Reminiscences - Part VII

by Michael Rogers
The following appeared in Michael Rogers' regular column in
The American Stamp Dealer & Collector Magazine - March 2011 Issue



Patrick Ramsdell

      Call my office and you’re apt to be greeted by Patrick Ramsdell; do it a second time and he’ll probably remember your voice. He inputs the public auctions and mail sales plus provides customer service. Patrick’s been front and center with my company for twenty years now. I couldn’t do it without him.
How Patrick came here is a convoluted tale.
      Back in the day when MRI was very small, just a few employees on Winter Park’s tony Park Avenue in a few hundred square feet of rented space, I had a problem. I’d just lost a couple of data entry employees (husband transferred, nervous breakdown) and was scraping around for another. I didn’t relish the idea of placing an ad in the paper because of the value and portability of my inventory. Luckily, a friend recommended someone who worked out swimmingly named Bob.
      I admired Bob because he was the single parent of a child, and I thought raising a child alone showed character and determination. He’d been laid off elsewhere. Good employee for us. After a while, as the fortunes of the company blossomed and he took the training for our new Acer computer system, I asked him what it would take to pay off all his bills and get caught up to date.
      To his great surprise, midweek I cut him a bonus check in the amount of $2,000, equal to that which he said would pay his back bills. I didn’t qualify it, didn’t couch it in the form of a job contract. In 1990, $2,000 out of the blue was a tremendous amount of money. He was doing a great job, and I wanted to take the worry off his mind.
      Well, Friday came, and Bob turned in his notice saying he’d always wanted to work in a newspaper, and now that his bills were caught up, what better opportunity than now? So the next Friday was going to be his last day! I sputtered that his leaving, especially since he was newly trained for a brand-spanking new computer, was leaving me in the lurch. He said, no kidding, business is business. I said, “You’ll never have an employer who’ll do for you what I did and one day you’ll need me.” Empty words
      I had a local retired business executive that I looked to for advice so I called him. Marshall placed an ad in the Orlando Sentinel to fill the data entry position. He interviewed a few, choosing a guy named John. I thought it strange Marshall could hire someone offsite without at least sitting down at our computer.
      We had a small office, four rooms was all, with the center room divided in half by a break-front. Entering the front door, folks came to a computer desk and waiting area, and beyond the break-front was the mail-room. On the left could be found the auction describers and retail, on the right was my 8  x 10-foot office.
In those days, we had the mailing list on four floppy disks, each backed up once.     
      On John’s  first day, I showed him around, then sat him down. He turned on the computer and I went into my office. A while later, John knocked on my door, announcing that there was a problem. Seemed that he’d erased the G-L mailing list disk, and “somehow” the back-up G-L disk had gotten erased as well!
      Well, I knew how to fix it, but I had to wrap my mind around the response, and in order to do that, I needed to calm down from this disaster.
Relief would come in the form of me going through thousands of invoices by hand, selecting viable candidates for the mailing list. Countless hours of tedious work!
      I’m not a shouter. It is really difficult for me to lose my temper, so I asked John to give me a minute by myself. I closed the door of my office, walked over to a laminate cabinet, grabbing a souvenir I had of a airline flight—a one ounce bottle of rum—and had just about settled myself into a high backed chair, my legs in the lotus position, mellowing out “Zummmmmm,” when John interrupted my serenity, saying “You’re mad, aren’t you?” Nope. Just give me a minute. Not more than 30 seconds passed before he returned interrupting my breathing exercises, knock-knock, get up, over and over, 3 times in a row, in a five minute span. I got progressively more agitated, him interrupting, me trying to zone out.

Finally he got it. Eventually I became upset. Then he said the very worst thing he possibly could have: he blamed the loss of the back-up disk data on the mail room clerk (who had not touched the computer at all). So I let him go. He even made a claim for unemployment, saying we should have told him what “delete” meant.
      Sometimes it pays to know who your friends are. I asked my good friends if they knew of anyone looking for a job. And that’s when I found Patrick.
      Patrick was a long time employee of Sun Bank. He’d reached a plateau in his career while, at my company, we were growing exponentially. When I hire, I make a point of saying that I can and do learn from all associates. I told Patrick that I will depend upon him. Patrick frees me to do what I enjoy most. As my executive assistant, I am relieved of much of the day to day details that would clog my time. I’m on the road often for consignments and buying. I write up most of the China/Asia in our auctions. Life is simpler and I get to play with stamps!


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