Well Mikey, my dear friend, I made it to retirement. I don't think I could have done it without you even though you have been gone for six years. So much of the work we did together and the customers we made stayed with me. They stayed with me in spite of the fact they liked you so much more than they did me. All the ladies thought you were so cute and funny. The thing was, you put our customers at ease, while I ignored them and installed or fixed their broken phones.
I remember what you used to tell me when we responded to an emergency call. We would arrive on site and your instructions were always the same:
"You let me do the talking but don't just run off to the phone closet. We need to let them know it isn't that bad and we will get them back up. We don't need to lay a bunch of techno speak on them either. So smile and nod and shut up!"
It used to tick me off a bit, but your customer relations strategy worked.
We got along well for so many years. I know we didn't always agree about things, like how to handle problems with vendors and sometimes customers or where to hang the box. Someone said, after overhearing one of our loud discussions, that we seemed like an old married couple. We were friends for over twenty five years so the comparison has merit.
I vividly remember the first time we met. You didn't like me at all. I guess you had good reason not to. I was the brand new guy at AT&T and our somewhat of a jerk boss had told you that I, the new salesman, was going to come in there and kick all your butts. He said that I was some kind of hotshot and would outsell you, Laura, and Dianne.
The truth was, I was scared stiff. I had never worked for such a large outfit before and had no idea what I was doing. Your cube was just across the isle from mine and as I was setting up my new digs and making calls to set up my sales appointments, I would glance over and see Mike Forzano; The top salesman and multiple AT&T Achievers Club Award member sitting and staring at me. I never knew what you were thinking those first few days, but I had to believe it was how to kick my butt.
One bright sunny day I was sitting in my cube taking to Diane on the phone. Behind me was my big green corn plant that I brought with me from my previous office. It never did well there, but it was thriving in its new location.
Diane and I were chatting about something to do with our kids when out of the corner of my eye I saw you standing in front of my beautiful full plant in its big red pot. I couldn't believe my eyes.
"Diane! Forzano is pissing in my corn plant!" I yelled in shock over the phone.
"What did you say?" she asked.
"Forzano is taking a pee in my plant!"
You then went back across to your desk, sat back down, and waved this rubber male looking part at me.
"Ha! Take that!" you said with a big smile, as you opened your desk drawer and tossed your rude squirt gun into it with a flourish.
I sat there numbly and wondered, "My lord what have I gotten myself into."
I had no idea at the time that what I had gotten myself would would morph into a friendship that would last for two decades. You helped me get through AT&T training, you helped me present and close my first sales. You became a true friend, one that sticks closer than a brother.
I think about you every day. I miss the talks we had first thing in the morning. I miss the calls from you, when I would answer the phone and you would say:
"Hey what's going on?" or "What do you need?" or "It's Mike! Why am I calling you?"
My response was always "I don't know, you called me!"
We talked about our lives , not just business stuff, but about our families. We both were, are, fathers of two girls. We were at their weddings together. I convinced you to try Sushi, you introduced me to music by Shakira.
There were some tough times of course, but most of those I don't remember.
I do remember the day I heard you were not going to be around much longer. The details of that news are not important. What is important is that I am so grateful that you were my best friend. I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to tell you that I loved you, and would miss you.
You made me laugh buddy. The guy who christened my corn plant, helped make my time in the phone game a success, not just financially but emotionally as well.
You helped make my life so much better than it would have been without you.
I hope I did the same thing for you.