Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go ahead. Make the call.

It's just a phone call. It can't hurt.

Time and again, some of life's most profound events have originated with such a simple act—that of hoisting the receiver.

I met her in 1987 while visiting a mutual friend. The three of us hung out for a weekend; laughing, drinking Schmidt beer, talking, watching videos of Culture Club, Whitney Houston and Tears for Fears. This is back when MTV played videos constantly, so it always provided an inviting backdrop for casual conversation. I recall parting ways on Sunday, thinking, "She's really cool. Maybe I'll call her sometime...Oh, yeah, that's right. I have a girlfriend."

Over the next two weeks, I thought about her a lot, finally deciding, "I'll just call her. It's just a phone call. No big whoop, right?" One phone call, one nasty breakup with the girlfriend and twenty-three years later, that call to my future bride looms in my past as a beacon to a profound decision.

Naturally, a call doesn't always result in an unexpected windfall, but it can result in a $12,000 window purchase or a new cat or a two-topping, family size.

I had recently finished art school, after spending five years as an accountant. Things weren't looking promising, since I had nothing but a school portfolio and a mullet to market my talents as a graphic designer. I called every ad agency, every design firm, every instant printing shop in the phone book, and still nothing was materializing. And then, the phone call.

We'd actually known each other since high school. Back then, he was one of those people who excelled in everything he attempted, yet was always approachable, friendly and extremely cool. We gravitated toward each other due to our interest in art, but I wouldn't say we were best friends. I ran into him a couple of times after high school, once at the unemployment office, another time at our ten-year reunion. He'd entered the graphic design profession right after college, and encouraged me to call him, anytime.

I'm not sure why I waited to the point of desperation; maybe I was embarrassed to admit to him that I wasn't cutting it in a world he was quickly mastering. But, hey, it's just a phone call. It can't hurt.

He was so gracious and so accommodating, and he helped me get an interview with his company. I got the job, and I've now been there nineteen years and counting.

His last day at work was Friday. He's now accepted a position as an associate creative director for a major fashion retailer in Manhattan, and he's got the world by the tail. I've grown to love him like a brother, as have a lot of those whose lives he has influenced over the past twenty years. His name is Cole Tsujikawa, and he's living proof that a phone call can change a life.

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