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Last 10 years were no piece of cake



When I told my husband I was working on my 102nd issue, he replied he was surprised I had so many. He had only identified 57 issues he thought I should talk to a therapist about. (OK, so my husband never said that, but I know he was thinking it.)

Last month, I shared my "best-of" list from the last 10 years. This time I'm exposing some of the painful issues I've had, and the lesson each one taught me. And yes, I am lying on a couch as I write.

Writer's block

Early on there was the guy who told me if I printed a story about his company's failure to register in the state of Washington, he'd come to my office and stick his foot so far up...I think you get the picture. I certainly did. It actually turned out to be a non-story, so we didn't print it. I've always regretted that he believed his foot saved him from embarrassing news coverage.

Lesson: Don't take threats personally; see if someone else in the office can take your calls.


Our sister publication Foodservice News is actually responsible for this humiliation. I was doing double-duty as managing editor for both publications, and my boss asked me to interview an old-time restaurateur who was an acquaintance of his.

The celebrated restaurateur picked me up in his car so we could drive together to the private club where we were having our interview over lunch.

Halfway there he rolled down the window. "I guess you want to know why I did that?" he asked. I didn't see anything strange in the behavior - my dogs like to hang their heads out the window, too - but he seemed anxious to tell me. "You smell so bad that I have to get fresh air in here or I'll gag," he said. I looked at him in horror.

"Did you take a bath in perfume?" he asked, nastily.

The ironic thing was that I rarely wear any kind of scent, but I had received a perfume sample the day before and lightly - and I do mean lightly - sprayed some on that morning.

The man was relentless. He wouldn't stop talking about it. I had to endure hearing about it not only on the ride over, but for the entire lunch. Since he had to pay for the lunch - it was his private club - I ordered frugally.

He pontificated during lunch, and I took notes, knowing I'd never use them. I started to wonder if I would get fired if I punched him in his sensitive nose.

When the waiter rattled off the dessert choices, he ordered one. I chimed in, "That sounds good, I'll have that, too." He sighed loudly. "Bring one and we'll split it," he said, waving his hand in dismissal. Not only did I smell, I was apparently too fat to eat an entire piece of cake by myself.

He even called his wife from his cell phone while I was in the car to tell her about this "person" he had just spent two hours with. "We're both allergic to scents," he told me, to explain why I also was offensive to his wife.

When he delivered me to my car, I apologized for the hundredth time and told him I'd ask my coworkers if they thought I was wearing too much perfume. He looked at me in disgust and said, "Don't bother. They'll just lie to you, and then you'll think I'm a jerk."

Lesson: Don't get into cars with strange men.

A blemish on my record

At a business dinner one evening, attorney Lane Fisher mentioned the time he attended acting camp as a child. I misunderstood and thought he said, "acne camp." I was shocked parents would send their child to such a place, much less that someone would gather all the adolescents with bad skin into a dirty camp setting where it would be impossible to get their faces clean at night.

Rather than let it go, I asked Lane what acne camp was like.

And my ignorance didn't even get the biggest laugh of the evening. Lane went on to use his campy acting skills to demonstrate some of the daily activities at acne camp.

When I got back to the office the next week, I sent Lane a tube of Clearasil for his young son, so he would be prepared when he, too, went to acne camp. Lane had completely forgotten the conversation, and had no idea why he was receiving pimple cream in the mail. Once again, the last laugh wasn't mine.

Lesson: Don't be rash. Rethink practical jokes before you do them in a business context.

Actually this wasn't the only time I didn't listen carefully. My kids love to tell the story of the time we went through the McDonald's drive-thru and my impatience with the order taker.

"Would you like fries with that?" she asked sweetly.

"No, thank you," I replied.

Would you like to supersize your order?"

"No thank you," I replied a little less nicely.

"Blah, static, blah, blah."

"NO, THANK YOU," I snarled.

When I turned around to hand the kids their orders, they were red-faced from holding in their laughter.

"What?" I snapped.

"You just told her you didn't want to have a nice day," they howled.

Who wouldn't take this man...?


Nancy Weingartner

Nancy Weingartner, Executive Editor

Nancy can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com

I do not believe everyone should be married. I am completely OK with adults living together without the benefits of a state-issued piece of paper. And yet for years I've been trying to marry off American Association of Franchisees and Dealers' founder, Bob Purvin.

His significant other is a wonderful woman named Julie Golden who produces musicals for nonprofits in the San Diego area and AAFD. Twice when I referred to Julie's role at the AAFD annual banquet, I called her Bob's wife. After my second indiscretion, a friend of Bob's sent him an e-mail offering to represent Julie if she planned to sue Franchise Times for slander. I don't think I besmirched Julie's reputation. But, Julie, if he's ever mean to you, let me know and I'll print a retraction.

Lesson: Don't assume.

PR people hate me

Another lesson I need to learn is to curb my enthusiasm. So, PR people, I apologize in advance for getting excited about your story subjects and then running out of space and time. I don't mean to lead you on. I really do plan to do the story - in the near future, or not.


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