a starfighter refuels


I traveled southeast today to meet with my peeps at Midwest-CBK in Cannon Falls. Every starfighter needs to board the mothership on occasion to refuel and receive orders for the next mission, and we contractors are no different. I do love to see these treasured friends & coworkers, breathe common air and keep up on the news—and there is always plenty.

The Midwest folks mean a lot to me. I have worked with this gang since 2003, so this makes my tenth year with them. Used to be we got a luncheon and a gift for lasting a decade, but those days are only in our memories now. Things have changed so drastically. All of us who have ridden the rollercoaster of this economy have war stories, and the gift & decor industry is no different. Our stories just have more glitter.

Those of us who remain in or with the company are grateful for survival, but we occasionally mourn the loss of what used to be. This company has always had a lively heart and soul–much like a family, but after the last few years of this rough economic road, some of our members have taken other paths. It is understandable, of course. It can be rationalized, as it has been in board rooms across the country and in many other industries–but the tough part is being the folks affected by that rationality. This company has been a leader in our industry and a longtime talent-magnet. The calibur of the folks I have worked with has been top-notch–and still is. There are just fewer of us in the home office now.

christmas 009

It is really something to realize that your workmates have become some of your most special pals. Being a ‘Midwestee’ is like being an alumnus of a private school or a member of a secret club. Our common work experiences, both joyful and challenging, have bound us together…and boy, have we got stories to tell! It isn’t everyone in my life who can understand my conflicted relationship with Santa, angels, mermaids and witches like my Midwestee pals.

That is why the road trips are so precious to me. Because the people are. These folks have been through some turbulent times, yet they still put their best energies into the hard work they do every day. They take a product presentation seriously, though ironic holiday jokes still fly over the cube walls and facebook. They still gather around the table at noon to talk about the issues of the day and heckle the one with the silliest lunch. The water is boiling for tea and magazines are spread all over the planning area. Boards are on the wall with fresh new concepts for next season’s line and when someone is on deadline or a customer is coming in, it is all-hands-on-deck. We have just recently welcomed some new talent and some familiar faces back into the fold, and a new vibe is taking over the place. One that is warm, friendly and hopeful.

The mothership is still on course and this starfighter is grateful to serve.

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