I looked up from the papers I was about to sign and saw Jim standing there, delicately reading over his own set of documents. I looked at him. He was young and surprisingly attractive. He was an over-achiever, just like me, and he was a very hard worker. He was only 27 and he already owned and managed his factory, but that was less a testament to his hard work than to the tragedy that left him as the sole heir to his grandfather’s business.
It was weird to think that our grandfathers had been sworn enemies. It all started way back when they were the owners of the only two brass factories in Minnesota. At first they’d been friends—which isn’t a surprise considering how much they had in common. The need for brass was still high, so they weren’t yet feeling the heat of competition burning in their hearts.
But as the demand for brass slowly began to dwindle, the two old men became distant and started to harbor bitter feelings towards one another—especially because of the tack business, which was where they saw the biggest profit. I don’t know much about his grandfather, but mine became borderline obsessed with beating out his competition. It was all he really talked about as he aged, and he spoke of Jim’s grandfather with a fiery hatred I’d never understood.
Neither of my parents were interested in taking over the family business, so grandfather taught me the ins and outs of the brass business. Jim’s parents were all set to take over, but they died in a fire and Jim, their only son, was left with all the responsibilities and none of the training he needed to run a factory. To my surprise, he reached out to me and asked for advice.
His brass factory wasn’t doing well, but it meant the world to him. Though I am very business minded, I have a heart and I felt for him when he told me this was all he had left of his family. I decided to help him out by merging our factories and splitting ownership. It seemed like the least I could do to help a grieving man do right by his family.
“Before we sign these documents, let’s get down to brass tacks,” he said, looking up at me with a broad smile and a small chuckle. He had straight teeth and a twinkle in his eye.
I smiled back, letting him know that I was in on the joke. I could already tell this was going to be a successful partnership. I reached for my pen to sign our agreement.
*Thanks to my friend David Sanchez for suggesting this idioms. Everyone should check out his blog