The next morning, Chris got up early, got ready quickly and left for work early. After Walt and Pat had left for their hotel the night before, Chris had emailed Mercer to ask if he could schedule a quick meeting early in the morning, before his appointment with the two dairymen. At 7 am, Mercer finally responded to the email by text.
“Can you be here by 7:30?” Mercer texted.
“Sure. Actually, I’m already here.” Chris responded.
“Ok. I’m not… make it 7:30.” Chris smiled at the return text.
“7:30 it is.”
At 7:30, Chris was seated outside Mercer’s door as Mercer breezed through with his briefcase, newspaper, and umbrella. He motioned Chris into his office and they both sat down opposite each other with Mercer’s massive desk between them. Almost as soon as they were seated, Chris began to tell Mercer of the night before and the appointment he had with Walt and Pat. He asked if they could meet with Mercer after he had given them a tour of the building.
“Um… What time is your appointment?” Mercer asked, looking at his digital calendar.
“10:30…” Chris said.
“Hmmm… I meet with the creative team at 11, to go over the tentative plan for the Harley account, and look at some sketches…. Hmmm… Ya’ know? It might be a good idea for them to sit in on part of that meeting. Kinda give them a look at what we do.” Mercer said.
“That’s a great idea, Mercer! They are from a small town, and it might kinda… turn their heads, and show them how ‘da big city works’. Then I can take them to lunch afterwards.” Chris concluded.
“That’s a good plan, Chris.” Mercer said and then turned his attention to his computer to check his email. Looking up as Chris neared the office door, Mercer said, “Chris…good eye on this one. Keep your eye on the ball now, and follow through. This could be a nice piece, buddy!”
“Thanks Mercer,” Chris said, and then, “I won’t let you down, Boss!”
“You better not…” Mercer said quietly to himself after Chris was out of the office.
Chris spent the rest of the morning preparing a marketing packet for Walt, and doing research on dairy production and the industry in general. He obviously knew a lot about how a dairy operated, but suddenly realized that he had no idea about the business his father had spent his life in. As he did a Google search, one of the sites which came up was “Dresden Farms”. Chris clicked on it and just as he was about to check the site out further, his desk phone rang. Chris picked up the phone.
“Good morning Mr. Dresden. You have two gentlemen to see you.” The receptionist said.
“Thanks, Jillian. I’ll be there in a moment.” Chris replied. He placed a bookmark on Dresden Farms, closed out of the browser, and gathered his material. As he began to walk to the reception desk, he felt a surprising pang of homesickness. Turning the corner and seeing Walt and Pat, he couldn’t help but catch his breath as it suddenly occurred to him that these two men were about the ages of
his father and himself. Another pang…
Everything about the DuBois’ visit was just perfect. They were very impressed with the company
and really enjoyed watching the creative team process in action. Mercer made an especially strong sales pitch related to the company’s capability to expose interested, potential clients to the benefits of their invention across the widest possible territory. So when it finally came time for lunch, Chris was certain that he would be able to close the deal. And he was right. Chris chose a steak house
for lunch and Walt signed a tentative agreement contract to allow The Phillips Company to be their world-wide marketing agent. The only restriction Walt placed on the deal was that Chris would be their primary contact to the company, and that he would be intricately involved with development of the marketing plan and with each advertising campaign. Chris was elated at this restriction, because he knew that the opportunity would not only be very profitable for him, personally, but would also give him needed experience in the process from beginning to end. It was, in all respects, an invaluable opportunity. They also made another appointment two days later to explain their invention to the creative director, at which time they would formally sign the final contract.
“Chris,” Walt said as they stood outside the restaurant waiting for the DuBois’ cab to take them back to their hotel, “When you start work on this project, I want you to remember all those years you woke up early each morning to milk the cows. Remember your dad, and how he has worked so hard for many years, and of how this product can make all the work he does even more profitable. I want you to do this work for him. Remember the investment he made in you to give you the opportunity you have here. This is an opportunity for you to say ‘Thanks’ to your ol’ man.”
Chris gulped hard to try and clear the knot which was quickly becoming an obstruction to his
ability to speak, and said, “Walt, I will do my best not to let either one of you down.”
The three then shook hands, and the two men got into the cab which had just pulled up, and then sped away into the New York traffic. After waving, Chris made his way back to the office with a large amount of melancholy in his heart and mind. When he arrived at his desk, Chris noticed a large manila envelope with a post-in note attached. Taking the post-it off the envelope, Chris read, “I just thought you should know… D”
Taking up the envelope, he opened it to find another note and a plastic strip, pregnancy-test with a plus sign in the little window.
I wanted to tell you this in person, but you won’t answer my calls. I haven’t told Glen yet. As soon as I found out, I hoped to tell you first and talk about what we would do. But now you are avoiding me. I’m not sure what I will do, but I know I don’t want to raise a child in the life I’m living now. Call me, would you? I love you…
“Shit!” Chris softly said. “Just when everything was starting to go so well…” Sitting down in his chair, he stared at the test in a fog of shock. His frozen state was broken by the ringing of his desk phone. Looking quickly around the room of cubicles in which he worked, he quickly placed the test back into the envelope, drew a deep breath, and then answered the phone.
“This is Chris…” He said.
“Hey Chris, its Mercer… How did lunch go?”
“Uh… great!” Chris tried to sound excited. “They signed with us.”
“That’s fantastic.” Mercer said, although his voice didn’t seem enthusiastic.
“They did have a requirement to the deal, though, that I would like to talk to you about.
Do you have some time this afternoon?” He asked.
“Well… I have a couple minutes right now if you aren’t busy. Oh, and let’s go out after
work to celebrate your new future!” Mercer said.
“Oh…uh…sure! And I will be right there. I am free right now.” Chris said.
Chris got up from his chair and began to walk with heavy steps to Mercer’s office. Upon
reaching Mercer’s office suite, he took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
“C’mon…” Mercer replied.
Chris opened the door and tentatively stepped into the room.
Mercer looked up from the paperwork he had been working on, and smiled initially, but
his expression changed to a perplexed half-smile, half-scowl.
“Damn, Chris, you don’t look like a man who has just signed his first client. Are you
ok?” He asked.
“Well…Mercer….uh….. do you know a girl who works in the mailroom, named Delores?”