The next morning at 6:00 am I find myself pouring a black cup of coffee in the hotel breakfast area. I sit down. 6:30…7:00…7:30. My shadow is a no show. I throw my Fage yogurt container away and head back to my room. My cell phone rings at 8:00 am. It is my shadow.
“Where the hell are you?” he snorts.
I was forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time with my shadow and unfortunately the bulk of that time involved being held in captivity inside an automobile. After leaving Asheville without seeing the Biltmore Estate at Christmas, we were heading to Charlotte. Desperate to make some conversation, I ask my shadow what products he saw of interest while doing store checks in the two days he had been in the Carolinas. Turns out, he didn’t even visit one store. Ok, dead silence once again. I ask if we can go through a restaurant drive thru so that I can get a cup of coffee. He tells me no, because he doesn’t want one at the moment. What a jackass, seriously. Who behaves like this?
Unfortunately for me, the weekend passed by very quickly and it was time to pass through the Detroit airport on my way to the Carolinas. It was only a few weeks before Christmas but I wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit. My shadow had decided to go in two days prior to the appointments under the pretense of researching the market by doing store checks. I arrive in Asheville and take a cab from the airport to the hotel because he can’t be inconvenienced to pick me up in the rental car.
An uneventful flight found us in the Northwest Detroit terminal. We had missed our connections, damn it, so I was stuck with my shadow for a while longer. This was going to be the Detroit Metro Delay from hell. He wanted to eat continuously. I didn’t want to eat at all, never had an appetite when he was around for some reason. We had three freaking hours in Detroit. But as airport terminals go, this is a pretty nice one. My shadow wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This food option, PB&J, was at the opposite end of the terminal so at least we could kill some time getting there. If my shadow were not with me, I would be relaxing in the World Club lounge. I could have taken him in with me, but why?
As often is the case in the northeast in winter, it began to snow. Please, no I begged the sky. Stop, please stop! Do not let my flight home be delayed.
We made it to the Bradley International airport, checked in and boarded. Of all the ill-fated wretched luck, my shadow’s random seat assignment was beside mine. As I watched the snowflakes getting bigger and falling faster, I thought, just go. Go anyway. I am a good swimmer and I have a decent layer of fat to insulate myself, I will take my chances with a water landing. Please, just go.
Me and my Shadow, were scheduled to meet up with Eric, the company’s northeast regional sales manager; a truly kind, smart, hardworking guy from Boston for some planning and several retail grocery appointments. The day before our retail meetings, my shadow thought it would be a good use of time for us to sit in the lobby of the hotel to work on sales projections for the new pizza instead of the prudent practice of conducting store checks. Store checks are the practice of visiting as many stores in a retail chain as possible to familiarize yourself with the product mix, merchandising and other specifics of the retailer that you are going to call on the next day. In other words, be prepared to have an intelligent conversation with the retailer.
The reference to the song Me and My Shadow series requires a bit of an explanation. You see, shortly after I sold my soul, I mean my brand to a manufacturing company owned by a private equity group, I got stuck with one of the egomaniacal, obtuse, ill-informed, unintelligent, drone partners of the equity group. In full disclosure, I should tell you that I didn’t care for the guy, but I suspect you have already picked up on that. When I say stuck, I mean being buried waste deep in cement would have been preferable to having to travel each and every week with this cro-mangon. Perhaps even being up to my eyeballs in quicksand would have been preferable to the prolonged and miserable time that I spent with the imbecile, but I digress. I do that a lot, I know I do, and I am really ok with that.
This is the story of how I fell down the “rabbit hole” into the food business.
While finishing a year of scholarship study at the University of Trondheim, Norway, I decided to change my degree program from a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) to a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). At the time, I feared that getting a job with a MPA would be more difficult than with a MBA. I returned to Ohio University where I was fortunate to secure a stipend and scholarship as an accounting teaching assistant and completed my degree. Read more