I worked for at least two remarkable men and I don’t know if they picked me or I picked them.
I have the talent to pay attention to people who have original things to say that stay with me for life.
These two talents actually overlap.
For my first important job I was hired in a firm in the south of Ontario. The city was Guelph, and as the story went it was where the mafia bosses retired back in the day. Also, it had very good restaurants and the town was kept very peaceful.
I was hired by a Polish guy who came from the Tatra Mountains in the south of Poland.
The town he came from is called Zakopane, and it’s as beautiful as you can possibly imagine.
I also knew a woman from there, way older then me, she died a while ago in Toronto, I was there at the funeral mass, I liked her a lot so I went.
She liked to stop at my office years ago to talk. She told me that she had guns from her father from world war 2, and I asked her what she did with them. “I buried them with him. The casket was very heavy.”
So this man, my first boss, came to Canada way before me and I don’t know where he is now, sadly. I wish I knew. I don’t even know what his real first name is, like you don’t know what is mine.
You couldn’t pronounce his last name, so I spare you the trouble. The company was later sold to GE and he got a bundle of money in a big payout. He was one of the people who have the engine going inside them that never stops. Always on the hunt.
During the job interview he asked me one question and I answered it right, and he said “you got the job”.
The question was – “can you be creative?”
Not just talking, but doing.
By now I wrote a book and about 150 weekly essays on various topics, so I’d say he got a good feeling about me.
Back then the company in Ontario was really happening – we were the supplier of choice to Intel in the Tech Valley at the hight of the Internet bubble.
That, and IBM in upstate New York, and whoever was making microchips in Malaysia or Taiwan.
Israel was a big client too.
There was noting better in the business world back then and I was the guy handling these accounts. Like, getting 40 e-mails during the lunchtime when I was out but I was doing it.
I had a guy working for me and he came from Cairo, Egypt. His family had a business manufacturing car parts, about 100 people employed. Then his father had some love affairs, the money was lost and everyone emigrated somewhere. Things happen, and the man now runs a gas station in Milton, Ontario and I get a free car wash every time I show up.
The other boss thought me that in life you give and you get, meaning things need to balance.
I lived through the biggest expansion of pharma business in Toronto and then in the South-East US, where we built a plant. I will remember him from this statement - "I can't be more serious without a gun in my hand". I still like it.
I don’t scare easily, which is why the covid scandal hardly makes an impression on me. I miss the old times; when we actually could see expressions on people’s faces and don’t avoid each other in the stores, keeping distance.
That, plus I hate when the airport is full of dogs.
My region, which is called York, is closing businesses by Monday midnight. Like, all of them.
I have prepared and planned ahead, so I got a haircut, and then I got a second haircut to fix the first one.
Now I'm looking forward to the Christmas vacation, I will go down to the Caribbean and stay there for a couple of weeks.
The wife bought some nice bikinis.
I told her - if you’re trying to make an impression, now is the time.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler