On this drizzly winter morning in Spokane a taxi was waiting to take me to the airport.
As I approached, the tall, slender cabbie opened the front passenger door. The last thing I wanted to do was be social. I wanted to sit in the back and feel sorry for myself with the issues preventing the launch our product. But bowing to my early training, I took the front seat.
Back and forth went the windshield wipers as I learned how Dana came about driving a cab. In his previous job he had some serious bad luck. While helping offload a port-o-potty from a truck, he lost his balance. The result according to Dana was “that port-o-potty tipped off the truck, landed on top of my head and drove me into the ground like a pile driver”.
Amazingly, Dana was initially able to get up and walk off the pain and humiliation of being taken out by a toilet. But, the next day Dana could not feel his entire left side. He had fractured some vertebrae leading to operations and chronic pain. At this point I’m starting to think my life is not so bad.
Dana mentioned he was never able to apply his degree in metallurgy – no market for it. I said “don’t be so sure my friend” because my week had been spent with engineers discussing the various metallurgic properties of springs for our auto-injector. We finished the conversation with Dana saying, “Hmm, you’ve given me something to think about”.
Months later on a beautiful spring morning there was Dana. He bound across the parking lot with a big smile, grabbed my luggage, hustled me to the front passenger seat and said “I’ve been looking for you for weeks – get in we got lots to talk about”. Something exciting was afoot. Dana said:
“After my shift that day, I went home and started scrounging around on the internet and saw that people were selling all sorts of things.” “I got into the mix, bought a bunch of springs and sold them to some Japanese manufacturers”. His voice escalating, “I’ve made nine thousand dollars and bought me a little plot of land outside of Spokane that I’ve had my eye on for years”. He paused for the final effect..”and…best of all…my wife thinks I’m a genius!”
I squealed with delight. We even did a couple of high fives. It was the best story I had heard in a long time. He gave me a hug and I never saw Dana again. But I remember and tell this story often because of this…
Today’s technologies help us be better connected. The irony is that often, this excludes the people physically present with us; in lines, on planes, in meetings, at restaurants. What a shame to have missed that experience by sitting in the back of the cab. So, maybe sometimes, we should turn off the gizmos, sit back and believe in the power of present company.