Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How I Met John Chambers

This letter was a reply to Jim Morris, Dean of Carnegie Mellon West’s campus.

John Chambers is a good guy.

I've known him for a long while. We painted Costaño School in East Palo Alto long before it's modern renovation. Back in 1994, that's how I met him. We were painting the school - Betsy, John and myself.

Over a Tom Sawyeresque litany of brushstrokes, I said something to Betsy about my ongoing work with the Federal government and the special processes they require. She had taken over Canada from me, and I was informing her about DPAS-rated orders, DD250s and GSA schedules.

That's when John started to giggle. I wasn't sure why he was giggling. So I emphasized again how the Feds have a lot of extra paperwork other people are spared from filling out. Not quite sure why he was smiling so broadly, I asked, "Ever done business with the Federal government?"

And with that kid-like grin, in his unmistakable West Virginian accent -- almost-but-not-quite like the Pittsburgh accent -- he said, "Why yes I have."

We shared a smile, and there was an understanding between the two of us. That's when I remembered my manners, begged an apology we hadn't introduced ourselves yet, took time to exhange names and shook his hand.

He's sneaky like that. Doing good deeds. Giggling about things he overhears. Only then introducing himself.


-Peter Corless.

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