My older brother Ross passed away ten years ago last month. The pain and despair of his loss has given way to a dull heartache and the occasional smile brought about by the many fond memories of his life.
This morning, it brings a smile to my face to think about his first adventure into business. I don’t think business was his forte per se, but he was a great relationship guy, more of a ‘promoter’ type of person.
I remember the time he got a job delivering flyers, he was just over 12 years old. He had a route that saw him deliver them to 200 houses in our surrounding neighborhood. I can’t say he was a big advocate of hard work; he was more of a persuader, good at getting others involved to help him share the workload. He would often reach out to me, his brother that was some 4 years younger, to help out. Heck, I was excited just be a part of his exciting foray into the world of business. So twice a week I would head out with him and help him deliver flyers…I am sure I did about 20-25% of the deliveries and required a certain amount of direction from him.
But as summer moved to fall, he started enlisting the help of his friends, his many friends, I would say a wide circle of friends he had. They all showed up at different times, attracted by promises of untold wealth driven by the 1 cent or 2 cents they would earn on every flyer they delivered. After working with him for the first month, almost every time I was a bit uncomfortable with all the new ‘help,’ showing up and horning in on my turf, cutting my grass, or at least cutting across someone’s grass.
So, while the Operations side of his business were humming along, flyers being delivered, it was inevitable that the administrative side would suffer as he was trying to keep track of how many flyers had been delivered by his 6 or 7 friends.
And one day, the proverbial ‘rubber met the road’ when his long awaited check arrived and he had to divvy up the funds amongst his ‘consortium.’ Well, the complexity of this situation required that our dear mother had to sit down and sort out what needed to be done. Of course, it’s always the mothers, or the wives, or the daughters, or doting aunts that sort these things out. In the trucking software business, it’s the same group who do this, you know the saying “behind every good man is an even better woman cleaning up his mess!”
After a hour or so of discussion, with ALL THAT MONEY sitting on our kitchen table and several sharp questions from my mother like:
“How many did Neal deliver?”
“What day did Alan help you?”
“Where did you record this?”
…and after I had made several ‘walk bys’ to see what spoils I could count on for the 10 to 12 times I helped him out, they finally got the money segmented for this friends with my brother having only a pittance of what he thought he was going to get.
See those big blue Canadian $5 dollar bills sitting on the table (that’s real money in the early 70’s, folks!)…I couldn’t wait any longer.
“What about me?” I asked.
“Yes we have something for you, Murray” my mom responded, my brother sitting there, elbows on the table and hands pressed against his forehead.
She then passed over to me a $1 bill. ONE DOLLAR!
I could have brought up the fact that my mother’s dad was the head one of the largest Canadian Railway Workers Union and went on to serve in the first Democratic Socialist (Tommy Douglas) government in the history of North America. I could have informed her that I was going to make a ‘grievance’ under our non-existent family collective disagreement.
But I was in shock…and besides that fact, I didn’t fully realize the career arc of my grandfather yet. Beyond all that, a chocolate bar cost 10 cents back then, and I did a quick calculation and quickly ran out the door to the corner store.
But the sting of how the Payables were handled in my first job still sticks with me today.
Sometimes, I wonder why I get up on Monday mornings to go into work to sell trucking software. Today, I realized it’s because any good trucking software should have a way to accurately track all the costs and fees associated with the delivery of a load. Ideally, good trucking software should be flexible enough to track the way a company wants to pay its drivers – flat fee, per mile, a percentage – and accurately record and pay them for their work.
I can just imagine that every Friday and through the weekend, drivers all over the North America are sitting down with their wives, mothers, sisters, sister-in-laws, aunts at their family kitchen tables, and figuring out all the money that is coming in…and all the money that is going out,and seeing if they have anything left over. I hope they do.
And I also hope that every driver in North America gets more than 10 Snickers bars after delivering a dozen loads.
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