Michael and I do everything together.  We own and operate a mostly successful business with two locations and a third in the works.  We have our fingers in a lot of “pots” and we are constantly evaluating our position in the marketplace and looking for the next place to get our creative “groove flag” flying.  Michael is the creative part of the operation and I fall into more of a R&D category.  Partly because he tends to lose interest when a projects gets to a “moving forward” phase and runs into a kink or two, and I like to get all the facts and work out the boring details.  He is in charge of collecting inventory and getting it showroom ready and I have the marketing responsibilities.  We both occasionally dabble in the others duties and give and take feedback on the others performance with surprisingly limited antagonistic repercussions.  Sometimes the fur will fly but we have a great deal of respect for the others willingness to do the duties of the other since we both agree that neither of us can do everything.  We consider ourselves a “team” and our convergence of abilities “teamwork”.


The teamwork follows us home where things pretty much follow the same pattern.  He is responsible for the garage, everything that goes in it – with the exception of the washer and dryer – and pretty much anything in or out of the house with moving parts.  I am responsible for making all the parts aesthetically pleasing at a reasonable cost.  We don’t always agree on reasonable cost.  An example of the duty “cross dabbling” at home would be when I tried to replace both the toilet “innards” on my own and we ended up with soaked bath rugs, or when he – thoughtfully I admit – did the laundry and all of my bras were stripped of at least one underwire.


The cars – being one of the things that go in the garage – are under his care.  I simply refuse to do anything more than put gas in a vehicle and will grudgingly get an oil change but only after I have threatened to do so 10 or 12 times and been ignored.  Somehow it always costs me more and I get tricked into getting stupid “add ons” and then we are back to the reasonableness of the cost when I get home to discover that the air filter I just paid $22 to have installed was a $5 item I could have picked up on my way home.  The last time I got this service done, the little squirt at the Quick and Fast Ladies Only Oil Change Lounge gave me a free oil change because I really needed to have that $119 transmission flush.  It sounds stupid now but at the time I thought I was really getting a deal.


Michael feels that a vehicle should be taken care of much like a child and takes a great deal of pride in how much “bead “ he gets when it rains and likes big thick shiny tires with bright white lettering.  Should the vehicle have chrome or black trim, he has special potions and dressings that will make it glow and sparkle and all water – in potholes, gutters or that which falls from the sky seems to avoid touching it at all costs.  Either that or he secretly wipes the car down after every use – something I suspect but he denies.  I find his ingenuity for all this home and car repair a little extraordinary since we don’t own the correct tool for literally any job.  He is a regular McGuyver with home and car repair.  After he installed the chrome step sides that he bought on craigslist for $50 with tweezers and a rubber mallet, he used so much of his magic glass potion and imported tire dressing to create a slick barrier on the driveway that it now kills weeds and keeps the stray cats off our lawn.  His father once accused him of trying to wash the paint off the car.


I have grudgingly converged my idea that “if it cost more it must be better” with his “make it work” philosophy to the extent that it doesn’t endanger our lives and he has conceded that there are things that you just have to pay more for.  His concessions have been relatively limited to golf related items but we don’t buy dollar store brand toilet paper either.


We call what we have teamwork, and I suppose that is what it is in a weird marriage related way.  And I ask myself… isn’t that what marriage is?  Two people who work together – much like a team – to get to a predetermined goal.  It’s not always easy and there are complications along the way.  There are disagreements and negotiation.  When obstacles arise, the team has to meet and agree on a solution and then there is acceptance and forgiveness when things don’t go right.  There is joy and celebration when a win is achieved and there is planning and preparation for the next goal that is set. 


The point is that we keep looking forward and we try to forecast the next shift in outside influence and keep progressing upwards.  Doing it alone – which we have both done before – is much harder – but when the team puts its mind and heart and soul into it – the wind doesn’t blow so hard, the climb doesn’t seem so steep and, because we support each other, the peak is achieved – and enjoyed so much more because of the team effort it took to achieve it.


We made up a word to describe our relationship…Teamshipness.


Teamshipness is a lot more complicated than it sounds.  It represents the unification of individual ideals and motivations without diminishing the importance of the individual.  It also requires that the team identify and utilize the other members strengths and weaknesses and fully support them when required.


An example would be that I cannot lift a king size mattress by myself.  And Michael doesn’t know when each and every bill is due.  I rely on him for the heavy physical work and we open our doors every month with lights and phone lines shining brightly.  He also knows every fact about nearly every mattress ever built and retains this technical information in his mental safe and is able to convey this information to me and our other employees – a little bit at a time – so that we are able to recite facts and figures verbatim.  He teaches with patience and gives the information slowly and explains why each mattress manufacturer uses a certain technique that makes their mattress unique.  I get frustrated when the “aha light” doesn’t turn on after a single demonstration. 


He has unique ways of hiring.  After the initial usual qualification and introduction questions are answered, he asks the prospective employee (who probably hasn’t eaten in the last 24 hours due to the economy) to lift a king size mattress over his head in our central Florida mid-day heat. 


I have unique ways of firing.  I take the low performance deadbeat out to breakfast and convince him that he is a low performing deadbeat until he quits.  The running joke is that you don’t want to have breakfast with Jesse.  It will not be “just” a performance review and you better bring your keys.


There’s no end to our madness.  On the way in to the Orlando showroom the other day, we were discussing the showroom we were trying to decide whether to open in Lakeland and – almost at the same time – we both expressed concern for it’s profitability considering the economy in the area.  One of the areas biggest employers had just closed its doors the day before with no notice whatsoever.  The conversation eventually led – with many segways – to our marriage.  I told him that I had asked my father to include the story of Ruth from the bible into our wedding vows.  Ruth’s mother had two daughters and she promised one of them to a man she had never met.  Trusting her mothers’ wisdom, Ruth knelt down before this stranger and told him that – as his wife, she would go where he went and lay where he laid.  She believed in him at all costs much in the way I believe in Michael and the way he believes in me. 


Teamshipness.  It’s a lifestyle.

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