Updated: Apr 5
In July of 1989 I got a phone call from my closest friend at that time, John Hellings.
I would have had to walk to the kitchen of my one-bedroom apartment to answer the call: The Trimline corded phone which hung on my kitchen wall would have been the only phone I owned at the time.
Stretching the cord from the kitchen to the couch, I sat back and listened while John shared his plans for a two-week European vacation he had scheduled to begin the following week.
John actually didn’t have much in the way of plans. He had an airline ticket from New York to Rome on day-one, and a return flight from Geneva, Switzerland to New York 14-days later.
The details in the middle, he would figure out as he went.
But that sounded like a great plan to a 26-year-old who had never been to Europe. Eighteen-months before he was the best man at my wedding, I told John that he was going to have company.
Having just finished my first year behind the counter at Tremont Paint, I was ready for the break! At the time Tremont Paint’s hours were 6:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Saturday.
And the store’s owner (my father!), expected me to work each of those hours. I was ready for a vacation.
A year earlier, before I left my job as a stockbroker to join my family's (at the time) 81-year old paint business, I never thought it necessary to ask my father, “How many weeks of vacation do I get?”
Which I regretted by 6:15 the next morning!
“Lipton’s do not take warm-weather vacations!” my father calmly replied, while reminding me of the seasonal nature of paint-store living.
When I mentioned my plans to take two-weeks off, he lost the calm and refused me the time off.
None of which stopped John and I from having a great time!
Years later, when I owned Tremont Paint, I would come to better understand my father’s perspective. I never enjoyed the stress of being away from the stores for too long.
Especially when we were busy!
My friend Adam Janovic, the former-owner of the chain of New York City paint stores which still bear his grandfather’s name, used to say that owning a paint store was a little like wearing golden handcuffs.
Nice bling! But you still feel like a prisoner.
Next week my fiancee Gaetana and I are heading to Austin, Texas to visit THE Buck! My 23-year-old daughter and consistent punch-line. I'm going to spend this week as well as the week after our trip to Texas recharging the batteries of my spirit and drone! I’ll be sleeping late, and napping! Both rare despite my flexibility to do so.
And writing! I’ve got plans for the Texas leg of the vacation relay which I’m excited to share. But since Guy shows her love by reading every blog, which I think makes her a kiss-ass, I can’t tell you yet!
I will though, and I’ll keep writing. I hope you enjoy if I make it a little more personal than paint, while I’m enjoying some mental rest.
Three weeks off! Now that I don’t manage a paint store he owns, my father would approve!