Perfect Day(s)

Somewhere in the middle of Kansas it occurred to me--I had forgotten to rent an apartment.

In my old life--the one of three days ago--this really wouldn’t have been a big deal, but a quick look in my rearview mirror confirmed that today was a new day. I was married to the cute girl driving the white Honda Civic which, like my pick-up, was loaded down with all of our possessions and headed to our new home in Colorado.

It was at this moment, somewhere in the vastness of the Great Plains that I first began to understand my new responsibility. It wasn’t quite like the proverbial light-switch being thrown, but it was close – and I became a bit emotional, swept up in the sun and the heat and the freedom of my new life and overcome by the shame of not taking care of a fairly big item on the “Starting a New Life” checklist.

A few moments later, we pulled off the road to grab a quick bite at Dairy Queen and I took the opportunity to come clean with my new bride.

Like she’s done many times since, she took the news in stride.

“No problem, we’ll figure it out.”

And, we did. Renting the last apartment in town (that’s another story), dropping everything we owned into said apartment and heading off for our honeymoon in Whitefish, Montana which is on the Canadian border. According to my math, we were only eight hours away from our honeymoon locale. My math was wrong. Two days later, we arrived--and less than a week later we left, chased out by a forest fire.

Despite the challenges, any of those days would qualify as a perfect day candidate in the video replay of my life.

Together, my wife and I travelled the western states fueled by innocence, faith and confidence in our abilities--viewing our life through the rose-colored glasses of love and happiness. It’s an attitude we’ve tried to sustain throughout our 16-year marriage.

Last year, was no different--though like most in business, we are looking forward to a New Year and the hope of an improved economy.

As I noted in our sister publication, Camp Business, that hope seems to be, in part, based on reality.

Case in point?

I’ve heard some version of this phrase every day for the last several weeks--“I can’t wait to kiss 2009 goodbye!”

It’s usually followed by some version of this phrase, “I think things are getting better--quotes/orders are running well ahead of this time last year.”

No doubt, that’s good news--and we’re seeing the same trend here at our little business.

But, I also sense there’s something else going on.

I hear it in the voices of the advertisers I talk to on the phone. I hear it in the voices of you, our reader. And, I hear it in the voices of friends, families and local shop owners.

All of these voices ring with the same message -- good, old-fashioned ingenuity, hard work and perseverance sprinkled with a heavy dose of faith.

I can’t even count the number of conversations I’ve had where a business owner relates the changes he/she made to their business model, the new marketing campaigns they’re running or the creative cost-cutting measures they’ve instituted (ones that don’t include letting people go).

The solutions have run the gamut from collective Christmas parties to managers agreeing to scrape snow off their employee’s cars all winter since they couldn’t afford the traditional Christmas bonus.

The economy may actually be strengthening (I think it is), but what strikes me is the sense of “I’m not going to let this thing beat me.”

For me, that is the real message of 2009.

Happy New Year!

Rodney J. Auth