Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Journey Continues (Pt. 9) - I'm Just the Installer

By 1992 things were brutally slow at work, and I was scrambling to find anything to keep going.

Although few projects were happening at the time it turns out there was a wealthy real estate magnate building a large custom home in Toronto, and the project required a number of custom cabinets and built ins. But the glitch was that all this work had already been bid on, and won, by a kitchen cabinet company that had sold itself to the client as a high end custom shop. (This is indicative of all recessions, as kitchen companies, millwork and store fixture shops all start encroaching into other markets in an effort to find work).

While this kitchen company was able to handle most of the straight forward cabinetry, they quickly found themselves in over their heads on some of the more complex pieces. At this point I was contacted by the interior designer to help find a discrete resolution to the problem.

I was offered the opportunity to make some of the more complicated cabinetry, under the condition that it was sold under the kitchen company's name. They were to get full credit for the work. My name was not to appear on any of the paperwork, and if I was ever asked by the client who I was my response was to be: "I'm just the installer".

Although the scenario didn't thrill me I was also well aware that ego doesn't pay the bills. Therefore, I agreed to the terms.

The pieces were made, delivered and installed roughly 2 days before the 1992 IIDEX show. Over several days the home owner saw me on multiple occasions working around his home, but at no point did he and I ever speak.

With the job now complete and the IIDEX show under way, I was soon busy with other things. For starters I had Monroe Sherman (owner of the Carriage House showroom in Miami) in town for the show. In addition, my old friend Bill Stolz from the Canadian Consulate in Atlanta was also attending IIDEX.

The three of us got together for dinner one night, before heading to a nightclub for drinks. We ended up at the hottest club in town, located in an upscale neighbourhood called Yorkville. Although the place was about 3/4 full, it was filling fast by the time we arrived.

No sooner were we enjoying our first beverage than Bill recognizes a couple people in the room. He motions them to come over, and soon we're standing as a group of 5 guys talking about whatever it is that guys talk about. About 10 minutes later more people enter the club, and amongst them is the (then) famous actor Peter Weller - of Robocop fame - with one of his friends. It turns out that Weller's friend happens to know one of Bill's friends, so before long there's 7 of us standing in a group conversation - and I'm standing beside Weller, even though neither Weller nor I know each other due to our four degrees of separation.

By this point the whole club is abuzz with the fact that Peter Weller is in the room. Bear in mind that the movie "RoboCop", and it's sequel "RoboCop 2", had both been huge hits in recent years. And since Weller was the star of both films, he was a widely recognized personality at the time.

But what happened next was hilarious.

With the club jammed full and our group of seven now the focus of attention, who else should walk in but the real estate magnate in whose home I had been installing furniture earlier in the week. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the startled look on his face as he looked over and saw my familiar face mingling with the rich and famous.

At first I could tell that he couldn't place where he knew me from. A short while later I saw the bulb of recognition go off over his head, as he clued in to who I was. Of course, now he was puzzled as to what his cabinet installer was doing hanging out with Peter Weller.

As we left the club I smiled and nodded to the client as we headed out the door.

There was no need to say anything.

After all, I was just the installer.

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