Dressed in my shorts, blue casual short-sleeved shirt and sandals (that fit!) without socks, I entered the IPCPR convention on the last day. My plane was delayed (finally made it home about Midnight). So I had time and dashed over to the show. Dash, for me, is slow walking, but my dash is still faster than the average pedestrian on the strip.
So as I’m walking down one of the aisles looking for a particular vendor – I see a familiar face.
“Roy!” His infectious smile is often camouflaged beneath his well-kept but longer than usual mustache, plus the salt ‘n peppa beard offers a brilliant contrast so his smile glows right through the face foliage.
“Irv!” We shake hands. We are both genuinely happy to see one another and begin to talk about the show. As we chat, my mind recalls what I saw at the top of The Mirage.
“Yeah, I know I wasn’t supposed to be here today because I had an early flight. But I get a call from an 800 number close to oh, 7 am. Ah, American Airlines with a pre-recorded message that informs me that my flight has been delayed by about 10 minutes. No problem. I continue to get ready to check out.”
I explain then that the phone rings again – it’s the same 800 number. I find out that now the plane will be delayed by 45 minutes. Hmm. I have a shuttle already booked that will get me to the airport a couple hours ahead of the flight. My interval for thought is widening. I can change the shuttle schedule. I just might have time to go to the show. I always like to say bye to everyone, and see if I can generate any late orders. “I didn’t think I’d get a chance, but here I am.”
“Isn’t this amazing?” he tells me. If you would have told me X number of years ago that I’d be with so many good people in the cigar business, I would have said you were nuts. But it’s true. Having a cigar with someone can change a stranger into a lifelong friend.”
We continued to talk, but I had to keep walking. My time was short. I shook his hand and moved along. Suddenly I receive a call from a customer. ”You want to put in an order for Oscar?” I ask him where he’s at. “I’m by the booth right now.” I make a hard left and bounce off the few remaining obstacles and see him in the distance. We meet. And in minutes we write the order.
Now this retailer and I have had our ups and downs, and for while I wasn’t even seeing him. But that’s all over now. We’re doing business again, trust each other, and have become friends (pause) – did you catch that? – friends, not just business acquaintances.
And this type of thing has gone on for years with various customers, other brokers, and different manufacturers. It feels so good.
So for those of you who are too squeamish to admit – friendship can, after time – evolve into love, and isn’t that all there is?