Dear Bank of Prairie Village Community~
Happy May! Fingers crossed the spotty April weather will become the permanent Warm Breezes of the Spring Season in May.
During the Covid hibernation, like everyone, I had a chance to do some reading. A consistent reading theme commanded continual focus on constant “life- time” learning. The more I thought about it, I kinda liked this “life-time” student idea. I quickly calculated through college and the various law degrees I’d managed to finagle a full third of my life as an actual student—why not just make the status permanent?
My daydream of continually striding across campus --books in hand- quickly dispensed with the reality this “lifetime student” concept was a commitment to the act of “learning” itself—and not the accompanying “college life” accoutrements~ of which I was so fond.
Suddenly my lifetime student vision of perpetually refreshing on Plato in the backyard chair, cocktail in hand was not as appealing.
Before giving up on my daydream altogether, I realized the act of “learning” did not necessarily mean just studying the classics.
The more I’ve thought about it, I decided I’ve been doing a whole lot of “learning” this Covid Season.
In in this topsy turvy Covid world, I’ve suddenly “Learned to Zoom” and sign documents electronically. I’ve even learned how to do my requisite banker’s disapproval scowl—from behind a mask. (Not an easy task when trying to convey just the right amount of disdain for a crazed loan proposal.)
Moreover, I’ve learned to how to download books and even navigate Netflix. All in all, I’ve become a wholesale “learning machine.”
Perhaps the most surprising Covid “lesson learned” occurred most recently. My 80 something Mom was scheduled for hip surgery.
Dad and Mom still live in the same home in which I grew up. My sister and I decided to take turns going out to Salina to keep an eye on Dad- and to help Mom recover from her hip surgery--- In that order.
My first learning experience occurred during the pre-surgery consult. Dad was not convinced Mom needed a new hip. He had lots of questions for the Doctor as to why it was not needed. (The unstated question was who was going to wait on him while she recuperated, but Dad was not sure how to diplomatically ask that particular question.)
Because of Covid, only one of us could go with Mom to see the Doctor for the pre-surgery consult. I won the flip to go. However, I knew when we returned home, Dad’s questions about the Doctor’s comments would last much longer than the consult itself.
As we waited for the Doctor to come in, I tried to think of all the questions Dad would ask when we returned home. Suddenly inspiration struck! I pulled my smartphone and punched on the voice recorder just as the Doctor walked in to talk to Mom.
As the Doctor meticulously explained the need for surgery, I recorded the whole conversation. I even, with the Doctor’s permission, snapped pictures of the pre operation X-Rays--- showing Mom definitely needed a new hip.
On returning home and being greeted with Dad’s question barrage, I whipped out my phone and showed him the X-Rays. To his follow up questions, I offered to play the recording of the doctor’s entire analysis making the case for surgery.
Seeing my technological evidence as overwhelming, Dad gave up and acquiesced to Mom’ Surgery. Without another word, he marched from the kitchen table -- and resumed watching ESPN. Clearly, my new smartphone technology “learning” proved invaluable.
During Mom’s three-day hospital stay, it was just Dad and me at the house. It was here I learned the brilliance of his management style.
According to the classroom books, management is the ability to direct other people to achieve a desired outcome or result. I had rarely thought of this definition outside the corporate setting.
However, as a new student of “learning” I was beginning to see the benefit of juxtaposing classroom and corporate concepts into one’s everyday life.
It was only on the drive home from Salina following my stay with Dad, his management genius fully come into sharp focus. Somewhere on the interstate around Manhattan, I decided to give Dad’s management style its own name. I call it the “I Wonder” Management Style.
Let me explain. On waking up in the morning, Dad’s first question is “I Wonder” if the paper is here.” If it has not arrived there is a constant stream –about every 4 minutes --of “I Wonder” why it is so late. “I Wonder” what is keeping the paper man. “I Wonder” if his car broke down. Etc etc. After the fourth “I Wonder” I jumped in my car, drove to the closest convince store, bought a paper and rushed back. His response—"Oh Good the paper is here.”
As I was sitting at the breakfast table trying to work on my laptop Dad wondered if there was any fresh coffee. I looked at the same unplugged coffee make he was looking at. When Dad wondered if the coffee brewer still worked, I jumped up and started brewing coffee.
Next, he was wondering if Mom had purchased any fresh orange juice before she went into surgery. He then wondered if Mom had forgotten he liked fresh orange juice in the morning. I swiftly produced a glass of fresh orange juice. “Oh good – there is orange juice this morning.”
Following coffee and orange juice Dad wondered if Mom had stocked up on the pumpkin bread she knows he likes in the morning. He then wondered if the local Starbucks carried fresh pumpkin bread slices.
I was soon on my way to Starbucks bringing back pumpkin bread slices. When I hurriedly unsacked the Starbucks pumpkin bread, he exclaimed, “Oh good we have pumpkin bread this morning.” It was as if a miracle had happened and someone from above, had magically placed pumpkin bread on his plate.
As I was leaving for “The Office” Dad wondered if anyone had gone by the Post Office Box to check the mail. Needless to say, I ran by the Post Office to pick up the mail. (You will recall last summer, Dad decided to name me President of his little real estate company ~so he could enjoy more vacations.)
Now let me explain “The Office”. It has three big private offices and a very small lobby. As Dad’s newly, installed “President” I now have a “Child’s Desk” in the small lobby. Dad and his other two associates have the three big offices.
Frankly, I was happy in the lobby’s silence, insulated from Dad’s “I wonders”. I squeezed into my child’s chair at my child’s desk, fired up the laptop and planned on joining two Zoom board meetings being held that morning. I made sure to adjust my computer screen so the other Zoom participants would not see me sitting oversized at my child’s desk.
I was about to make a key point during one of the Zoom Board meetings when the office door swung open and Dad announced, “I have arrived.” I quickly hit the mute button.
Dad looked me over, commented about me watching TV during work hours and then announced, “Oh good the mail his here!”
Again, he sounded as if God himself had gone to the Post Office, and carefully stacked, opened and organized the mail on his desk complete with little “Sign Here” tabs affixed to those items requiring his signature.
As I anticipated Dad settling into whatever his office routine might be, I unmuted the Zoom button and again tried to respond to the Board.
Just as my turn to speak materialized, Dad loudly “Wondered if we had any extra stamps in the office.” Again, I muted the Zoom Board meeting and rushed to produce the stamp roll I purchased earlier that morning and placed on the corner of his desk. Dad commented” Oh Good we have stamps.”
Bending down and squeezing into my child desk again, I decided the Board did not need my further insights and left the Zoom button permanently on mute. After about 30 minutes, Dad “wondered if the old boys wouldn’t be expecting him at coffee.” Deciding they probably did-- off Dad went to coffee.”
Finally, I thought solace! About noon, Dad called “wondering if I was hungry for lunch.” More specifically Dad was “wondering if Mom had picked up any sandwiches from his favorite sandwich shop before she went to her surgery.” If so he “wondered where she would have hidden his lunch sandwiches.”
I signed out of the Zoom Board calls and in fifteen minutes picked up and served his sandwich at the kitchen table. “Oh Good” Dad said, “Lunch has arrived.” I looked to the ceiling from which Dad must have assumed it had been miraculously delivered.
Following lunch, Dad ensconced in his TV chair watching the early Master’s Golf Tournament rounds. I retreated to “The Office”.
Through the magic of remote networking, I completed the daily bank financial reports. Around 4:30 Dad called “wondering if we’d like to dinner that evening at his favorite restaurant.” Not wanting to argue, I of course agreed. Dad then “wondered if his favorite booth would be available when we arrived.”
I did a quick mental calculation of the tragedy befalling the restaurant owner if another patron were to be occupying Dad’s favorite booth upon arrival.
Leaving nothing to chance, I hurriedly finished up at “The Office” and went directly to the restaurant to speak with the owner. I wanted to ensure the availability of Dad’s booth upon arrival. The owner, knowing Dad and visualizing the potential calamity of a nefarious booth misappropriation, assured me even if the crowd was standing room only—Dad’s booth would be available.
Sixty minutes later, Dad and I arrived at the restaurant. Hitting the front door, moving through the standing crowd, walking cane leading the way, Dad marched directly to his destination without breaking stride announcing, “Oh good my booth is available!”
In bed that evening, I decided I couldn’t handle another day of “I Wonders”
The next morning when Dad arose, the paper was on the kitchen table neatly folded with Sports Page first, just as he desired. The coffee fresh, the orange juice poured and newly acquired pumpkin bread slices, lined his plate. On arriving, Dad proclaimed “Oh Good, breakfast has been served!” Again, I wondered if he was thanking the Almighty who must have miraculous served Dad’s breakfast directly from Heaven.
Before Dad could call at 11:30, his favorite sandwich was on his lunch plate awaiting him in the Kitchen. By 4:30 I’d made reservations at his second favorite restaurant, securing his favorite table, and pre- ordering his favorite dish, with instructions it was to be brought to the table 9 minutes upon arrival. “Oh Good” Dad announced to the harried waitress who rushed Dad’s plate to our table ~ “You happened to have my favorite tonight.”
Through the week I spent my night’s trying to anticipate and preempt any possible “I wonders” from Dad.
During the days Dad kept coming into the office where for 30 minutes he would sit behind his desk loudly “Wondering a) if a tenant should be called to check on the rent, b) if we should renegotiate a lease, c) whether the Income Tax Returns should be picked up from the accountant, d) whether the parking lot at the retail strip should be repaired e) if so who we should use for the repairs and f) how much the repairs would cost.” On and on he wondered out loud alone in his office—and then off he went to coffee.
Sitting at my kids’ desk in the lobby listening to his insistent I Wonders was driving me crazy. If I ignored them he would just continue wondering- in a continuous 3 minute loop intervals~ over and over and over again. As soon as Dad left for coffee, I jumped from my kids’ desk determined to sequentially kill each “I Wonder” from that insistent loop.
Accordingly, when Dad arrived the next day to the office, he found neatly and sequentially ordered according to his I Wonder loop, a) the tenant’s rent check, b) the renegotiated lease, c) his income tax returns from the accountant d) three bids to resurface the retail strip center lots, e) a recommendation as to which bid to select, and f) a “Sign Here” tab to finalized the bid. Surveying his desk Dad announced, “Oh Good everything is in order.” He signed the bid sheet and then left for coffee.
That evening, somewhat fried, I collapsed into the chair next to where Dad was watching the late-night analysis of the Master’s tourney from the previous afternoon. I suggested to Dad we might change the channel and give the Master’s tournament a rest.
Dad looked at me somewhat surprised and said, “You know Dan I was I was raised an Unspoiled Only Child.” The channel remained unchanged. A few minutes later Dad “Wondered aloud if I was sleepy and should go to bed?”
Off I went to bed in the same room I had since I was nine years old. In my old room’ confines I wondered if I’d made any real progress in life.
Specifically, as I stared at the wall I wondered if Mom had scraped off the Farah Fawcett poster I had glued on when I was 14—or if she just wall papered it over Farah and her red tank top.
Looking at my once crammed closet which Mom must have cleaned out~I wondered if Mom had thrown away the secret junior high era box I used to keep hidden in the bottom of the closet. With pangs of anxiety I wondered if Mom opened my secret box and saw what was in it before throwing it out. That night’s sleep was fitful.
The next morning, I picked Mom up from her hospital stay. During the ride home, Mom smiled and said “Hey Danny I was doing some wondering when I was in recovery….” My stomach tightened trying to guess the check list she had wondered up for me. “….Well Danny, I was just wondering how you and your father got along while I was gone.” I about drove the car off the road. Mom started laughing. “Relax Danny you sister will be here tonight. Your Father doesn’t Wonder as much around you sister.”
At the perception shop, where I went to get Mom’s recovery pills the Pharmacist had the pills waiting and started laughing. “Hey Dan, we were all just wondering how your Dad is doing without your Mom these past few days. The whole pharmacy then burst out laughing. My God, I thought, Dad has taken over the whole city of Salina with his I Wonders.
Back at my adult Bank desk in Prairie Village the following Monday, I chewed my cigar and contemplated Dad’s “I Wonder” management style. If I could implement Dad’s I Wonder approach here at the Bank we could really get things humming.
I closed my eyes visualizing me repeating I Wonder over and over on an insistent loop~ and then sitting back and watching every possible initiative and strategic plan I could conceive being ~ swiftly executed.
Hell, I thought I could even write a New York Times bestselling business management book articulating this revolutionary new way, of taking your business and life to new levels—simply by “Wondering.”
I decided I would tittle my new book Wondering Your Way to The Top~ How To Get Things Done by Simply Driving People Crazy ~ One I Wonder at a Time.
I was trying to remember the name of some hot shot Yale editor I once met with St. Martin’s Publishing House in New York to which I would make my pitch.
It was then the cold water suddenly struck me in the face. What if Dad’s “I Wonder” management style only worked for those like Dad raised as “Unspoiled only Children”.
Awaken by this realization, I took a long drag of coffee and went back to chewing the cigar.
Undeterred, I decided as a brand-new freshman in the “School of Life Time Learning, (I.e “Life Time Learning” U~or~ LTLU for short,) I must simply seek and develop my own I Wonder management style~ whatever that might be.
Surely, “Unspoiled Only Children” must not be the only one’s capable of mastering the “management of others department.” I decided to keep the St. Martin’s Editor’s card on my desk- just in case all my new learning paid off.
Together as we skip through this fine Spring Season lets Wonder Together as to the benefits of “lifetime learning”.
~Thank you for giving us this opportunity to be your bank and bankers~
“The Bank of Prairie Village ~ Home of Blue Lion Banking”~ cited March 2020 and~ again in April 2021 by the Kansas City Business Journal as one of the “Safest Banks in Kansas City for Your Money.”
Our Outside Deposit Drop Vault is located on the south rear side our building and underneath our jutting Blue Lion sign. ~ Now Located on newly named “Fox Lane”.
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