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From The Desk Of Drumlin S Boulder

Percy's the kind of guy you cannot help but think about. Now you'd think it was because he had this odd name you don't hear much anymore, but no, it's because he's always smiling and singing to himself, and he's always in a good mood. And he's only ever had good things to say when he comes by the office, filling the coffee machine and making sure to say hello to everyone, and at least once a visit you'll hear him say "If I were any better, I'd be quints!"

Now I know this cannot be. The most famous quintuplets I know were Canada's own Dionnes, Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie and Yvonne, and there wasn't a Percy among them. Not only that, they were taken from their parents and made wards of the province. This was done apparently to protect the infants fragile health, but also from their own parents Elzire and Oliva, who were said to be looking to gain financially at their children's expense by making them a carnival side show. No way was the government going to allow the parents to exploit their own children.

So the newly famous quintuplets were taken to what quickly became known as Quintland as tourists came from all over and made it even more popular than Niagara Falls. It is estimated that several million people visited Quintland which earned the government and nearby businesses many millions of dollars. Yeah, there was no way was the government going to allow the parents to exploit their own children.

By all accounts, the Dionne sisters did not lead happy lives, so how could someone as happy as Percy seem to be think he might be happier as quints? "I don't get it!" I told him one day. "How do you do it?" It's easy, said Percy. "Each morning I wake up and look at myself in the mirror and I say to myself, Self, you can either have a lousy day today, or you can have a happy day, and then I decide to have a happy day. That way if something bad happens, or I meet someone who's in a bad mood, or someone complains about the coffee, I just tell myself I'm having a happy day, sing to myself, and I shut it out."

No way I can do that. Not only because it's my face I see in the mirror each and every morning, but I can't carry a tune in a bucket. Heck when I start to sing dogs begin to howl. "Yeah, right", I said, "no way it's that easy".

"Sure it is" said Percy. "Everything is a choice. You choose your words. You choose how you react to situations, how you let people affect you, what you do in life. Why is it hard to believe you cannot choose what mood to be in?" .

I can't agree with that. I've made choices that turned out badly, and that painted me into a corner that no amount of singing, smiling or waving could have gotten me out of. And I find when something bad happens, or when I meet someone who's in a bad mood and trying to share it, that a well chosen word delivered in a suitable tone and volume does wonders. And it gets my frustration off my chest.

"Well it may work for you, but I have to be me", I told Percy. "I do try to treat people well, and I'm not prone to anger, but venting in do re mis just doesn't cut it. And furthermore, a well placed word at an appropriate decibel level can do wonders to capture someone's attention and get what you want. Besides, I prefer to remain an enigma. I keeps people on their toes"

I suppose the only people I always make a point of being polite to, no matter how they treat me, are people like my executive assistant Gloria, receptionists and secretaries. And whenever I'm out anywhere, I look for a Helen Clappison. You know the type. Someone who has been with the company for years and knows absolutely everything that's going on. Highly capable, well organized, well liked, and a behind the scenes dynamo who gets things done and holds it all together, because she's done all the jobs and knows all the right methods and people to make things happen. We call ours Gloria.

These people are the ones that matter, the ones that make life easy. I learned early on that being nice and polite to a secretary meant you always had your "rush jobs" placed at or near the top of the list, and you did not get an "I'll try to get it done as it makes its way up from a dump spot." And being nice does not mean simply bringing flowers or candy or any kind of gift. It means asking in a nice way, being forgiving when mistakes are made, generally being helpful, and asking about, and being interested in, the kids in the photograph on their desk. Remembering the kid's names is an absolute gem.

On the other hand, I've been known to be quite ruthless with employees and suppliers who break promises or don't learn from their mistakes. Honest mistakes are made, and I never attribute to malice what can easily be explained by lack of ability, but repeated errors and broken agreements warrant a calculated response. I guess what keeps my blood pressure pretty even is that we take care to train employees well, and we hire well. As for suppliers, we always make sure our key suppliers are carefully screened before we sign on, and we always monitor important shipments. That's basic right?

"Now don't get the wrong idea", I said to Percy. " I agree that you can consciously make these choices, and being nice is important. It's just that being up beat all the time is not a universally desired state. Sometimes you have to use bad tempered vocalizations as a tactic. It puts the opposition on guard, and if used sparingly, off guard."

"I guess you're right" said Percy with a smile, as he finished loading up the various items in the coffee rack. Then, before turning to leave, he eyed me deep and said loud enough for everyone to hear. "Why in the blazes do you only buy the cheap stuff from me". And then louder, warming to the tactic, "don't you care what your people drink, I mean really, is there life before your head's gotta be leaking out of those portable holes if you think the low cost crap you're buying makes you look good!"

Hoist by my own petard, I meekly asked to look over his order sheet. No way I wanted my employees to think I wasn't looking after them. So I ordered a better mix of coffees and teas , and watched Percy leave, smiling and singing to himself.

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