Recently, I thought I was having a day. Then I met an old friend at the entrance of a pharmacy. She was walking in, I was walking out. Her mask was on, mine hadn’t come off yet. Our eyes met, we both did that split second squint that happens when a brain tries to match a person to the eyes above the mask. It clicked. She asked me how I was doing.
Normally, I understand that question is meant to receive a short answer like “I’m great”, or “fine”, allowing the conversation to proceed, or not. But for some reason I let my mood do the talking and used the opportunity to actually gripe and complain about every offense of the day. I covered the rude waiter at lunch and the horridly careful left turner who stole seven whole seconds of my life at the parking entrance. I’m sure there were others, all of similarly inappreciable importance and depth. When I finished with whatever self-involved impulse it was, I caught myself, and remembered to at least ask her the same question. How are you doing?
She answered in very frank language exactly how she was doing. Her year had a story that topped anything I’d had to say. Not because it was spectacular and wonderful only, but because unlike my unsolicited gripes, her year had rough parts that actually justified any and all complaining. But that’s the thing, she wasn’t complaining at all. None. Instead, she was telling me how she was facing it, and her strategy for handling it. I thought of her strength and dignity. I thought of my own, and how I’d just tossed it aside to accommodate an embarrassingly meaningless rant about nothing important.
I’ve gone back to that moment many times since. I’m glad it happened. Fortunate even. It’s never a bad thing to have your subjectivity checked hard. It made me think of what I have, why I have it, and most importantly, who lit my way to it. I like the focused moment of gratitude it insists that I recognize. When I follow that moment it always leads back to one thing; our customers that make so many great things possible here. I wanted to make sure I express that as this year finishes.
I found the above photo last week. It’s Holger at our first sewing machine, which we still have, inside the 800 sq ft apartment that was our home, office, factory and warehouse for the first 3.5 years of Graf Lantz. We’ve kept our spirit but we’ve grown a bit since then. And that’s my point.
Along with all the years since that photograph was taken, you have given us yet another great year, and yet another possibility filled next year. You have allowed us the space to ask the question of how a company can grow and still maintain the core values that made it exist in the first place. You have given us more GL team members with amazing skills and experience to push those values forward. You have shown us we can build, as well as dream and in that , you have made Graf Lantz the little company that could.
These days when someone asks how I’m doing, I have an answer I plan on using for a long time, “I got nothing to complain about”. I understand the only reason I get to say any of it is because of those (you) who believe in us and what we do. Thank you for all of the possibilities.
Whatever your holiday looks like and wherever it finds you, Holger and I, and the whole gang at Graf Lantz, wish you the very best new year ever.
– Daniel and Holger