Out on the Street


An afternoon with Sharon Fitzhenry.

My mind spends way too much time in the future. It plans, projects, predicts and then does it all again. It analyses things to death, well before they’ve ever happened. “What work needs doing, who will do it, what resources do they need? What happens if X?” I suspect it’s one of the things that make us different from the animal mind. Being able to reasonably forecast consequences of actions is a key human quality. Of course we need to plan and forecast, but to invest crazy emotions onto things that haven’t even happened or are even likely to happen is a little crazy.

I once worked for Sharon Fitzhenry at Fitzhenry and Whiteside Publishers as a trade rep. for much of southern Ontario. This was back in the early 1990s. One day, a new catalog came out and Sharon thought it important to come out with me on a call to a major account. I was driving and we got caught in traffic on the 401 as we made our way down to London, from Toronto. I began to get a little panicky. She asked me why I was acting so nervous and the conversation went something like this;

Me. “Well, I don’t want to be late for this account.”

SF. “Well what if we are?”

Me. “He’ll be pissed.”

SF. “So?”

Me. “Last thing I need is a pissed-off account with a new catalog in my briefcase.”

SF. “So what does that have to do with anything?”

Me. “He’ll be angry and want to wrap up the meeting ASAP and not bother to place an order or maybe just a small order as punishment for having made him wait.

SF. “So?”

Me. “Obviously my income is largely dependent on accounts like this.”

SF. “Uh huh.”

Me. “The business of Fitz and Wits is dependent on clients like this.”

SF. “Somewhat. So?”

Me. “You’ll end up angry with me and dump me as a rep.”

SF. “Possibly.”

Me. “Then I go home tell my wife. The mortgage payments start getting late, the house goes into foreclosure and next thing I know, we’re out on the street.

SF. Bit of a pause. “So you’re saying if we’re late for this meeting you’ll be out on the street?”

Me. “Well, not in so many words ....”

SF. Sighing, “You’re such an idiot.”

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