Back in 1999 Earl and I were only three years into our relationship. I was becoming rapidly disenchanted with the radio business and as luck would have it the city announced a new mini-mall opening in an old building that had once housed one of the original Woolworth’s. Those interested in opening a retail establishment in this mini-mall (which was owned by the city) would get a year’s free rent. Earl and I grabbed the opportunity to open “The City Pound”, a hot-dog based fast food restaurant that was basically an A & W without the brand name.

Owning a business with your partner of three years is sort of a make or break deal. There was a lot of hard work, some tears, a lot of screaming, a considerable amount of butting heads, different points of view and like-minded business savvy rolled up into this experience. The business cruised along for a year or so and on April Fool’s Day 2000 (after broken promises from the city and rapidly dwindling interest from the public in this retail venture) we closed up shop and chalked it up to a learning experience. (We had to tell our employees they were done AND convince them it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke at the same time). I went back into radio for a while and Earl continued doing what he’s doing today as he was wise enough to never have left his position.

It was then that we decided that our relationship could survive anything if we could survive that together. We agreed that we have different ways of approaching the same problem and while we both would get satisfactory results, we took different paths of getting there and since only one of us could be right, it was probably best that we don’t work together.

We broke that promise today.

Today I started a temp job at Earl’s office. They are behind on paperwork sorting and data entry and since I’m one of the fastest data entry clerks you’ll ever meet, and since I have Wednesdays off from school (they’ve been reserved for homework and studying for the most part), Earl thought it would be good for the family budget if I were to lend a hand in his office through the temp agency. Last week I took my drug test (I passed) and did the appropriate paperwork; this morning I reported for my 8 a.m. gig at 7:50 a.m.

Earl was proud of my promptness.

One of the rules of my working at Earl’s office is that I don’t report to him. This is a good thing. I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure unless you can do it in an office with the blinds drawn, so I’m reporting to one of his managers instead. He doesn’t have blinds on his window.

Earl talks about work all the time. I know the ins and outs of his business like it’s nobody’s business. I’ve gone with him on countless occasions to find out why the burglar alarm is going off in the middle of the night. I’ve burned the weekend oil with him doing data entry (for free) when the inventory was behind. I know how his business works and I know his style.

Today I was able to see him in action, first hand for the first time. I can only say this about the experience: My lover is an amazing man. He cares about his employees (they even have a 9:30 a.m. stretching exercise for all office personnel), safety in the entire workplace (office and factory) is paramount and I can’t help but burst with pride to know that my husbear is doing such a bang up job. He’s a hard worker and he has one of the most profitable (and successful) plants in the entire company.

I am proud of him.

I don’t say that a lot. The phrase “I’m proud of you” is very important to me. I just don’t throw it out there for the sake of making a person feel better because to me that would be hypocritical. I’ll tell a person that they’ve done a good job when they’ve done a good job. I’ll tell a person that they’ve done a great job when they’ve done a great job. But to tell a person that I’m proud of them, well, that’s one of the highest compliments I can give and it’s reserved for a select few in the proper situations.

I think we’ll make it through this work experience together. Yesterday I quipped that maybe I should do some grunt work this summer to get buff. Maybe I’ll work out on the factory floor during summer break.