Sal Stories: The Scene at JFK

I was asked to create a timeline, an interactive history landing spot on Sal’s webpage that would chronicle his beginnings through present day. But the problem was, he was the only one with access to all of the information needed for the job given the crazy turnover. Kind of like the company org chart.

Being resourceful, I scoured the drives until I found an antiquated version probably left by some intelligent woman who had quit 10 years before me. I took the contents from this history log and began piecing them like a puzzle into an excel file. One column would hold an image, the next a kitschy title, and the next a short description of Sal or the company at that point in time. I was quite proud of my ability to manifest something with zero bones thrown my way. I shot him an email with the excel so that we could move on to the web design portion. He said he’d review it on our joint flight back from Florida.

But when we found each other at the baggage claim in JFK airport, his face was aflurry with scorn. He took to a swift walk in my direction, and began angrily waving a piece of paper above his head. A few onlookers stopped to see what was about to go down.

“You are so stupid!” he yelled. Silence in the baggage claim.

“You don’t know anything about this company, you don’t know anything!” he continued.  I calmly tried to ask what he was referencing, when he pointed to the paper that was my rough draft excel for the company history.

“You have no f****** clue! I can’t believe you work for me!” he continued. By now, there were about 25 folks who were enjoying the parade.

“You say here that Sal got his footing from Kenneth Cole back in the 80’s…” he was breathless. I was still impressed with my copywriting (got his footing…hah). I had read that Sal worked at Kenneth Cole and that’s what had launched his own career in the footwear industry. Apparently, someone had unsuspectingly remembered the story wrong.

“Oh please!” he threw up his hands and the paper went with it. “IF ANYTHING, KENNY LEARNED EVERYTHING HE KNOWS FROM ME!!!”

Boy was that a twist in the plot. Kenny?

Biting my tongue, I tried to reassure him it was a very, very easy fix as it was a draft, and that I had pulled historical content, but my reasoning was in vain. Because what I really wanted to tell him was his theory was improbable. If Kenny had been your prodige, even though you worked with him, than why does everyone in America know Kenny’s name and not yours? And why is Kenny on 5th Avenue when you don’t have a storefront?

He essentially fled the airport with his baggage (physically and mentally), yelling back at me at how f****** stupid I was.  It was the first time I had ever been cussed out in an airport. And to my amazement, the New Yorkers faded into the background the same way they had congregated just moments before.

And that’s when I learned that Sal was better than any shoe designer in the world, obviously.

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