More of the The Trees. Happy Monday. Happy August 1. I can’t believe we are in August already. Whoa.
It was John’s “puttering” that would be the start of the conversation that led to the formation of Evolve. He had been working on a database specific to their business, which was tele sales, that could track the stages of the conversations being had with clients in a more effective way.
“Kinda like excel on steroids,” Dan had asked.
“No,” had been John’s reply.
John methodically explained to Dan exactly how the software would work. He had learned that Dan sometimes needed to be led exactly to the water before he could take a drink, so he took his time spelling it out. Dan’s smile got bigger and bigger until John had told him he was planning on sharing it with his boss in the next week.
“Don’t do that!” Dan had exclaimed before explaining why they should start their own thing and use John’s database to fuel sales for their own clients.
“Worst case scenario, I can sell your software and make you a rich man.”
John smiled at Dan when he said this. It wasn’t because Dan said he could make him rich. It was because Dan believed in him. He would later explain that what he had made was not earthshattering or going to change the way business was done, but it would help the sales force focus their efforts a bit better and give them access to information more quickly than what they were using at the time.
“I’m going to need about six months or so to have it up and running. That gives us time to plan,” John had said.
With a handshake, the partnership had been born.
During that time, Dan began looking at potential clients to reach out to as well as locations for an office. His initial talk with Jan had gone well and she was supportive of the idea, especially after they had joined Hettie and John and their children for dinner at their home.
Jan hit it off with John and Hettie right away and Dan was relieved. John and Jan’s brains worked in similar ways. At the time, Jan was in her third year of teaching science at Central High School and her curiosity about the world of computers led to question after question which John handled like a pro.
As John and Jan talked shop, Dan got to know Hettie and two of the Rawls’ eventual four children, Alice (or Allie) and Peter. Allie was about to turn nine, which she said at least ten times in the first hour they were there, and Peter had just celebrated his sixth birthday. Allie and Peter thought Dan was the best and he immediately liked them.
Allie loved that Jan was a teacher and shifted over to the conversation John and Jan were having pretty quickly, but she came back and forth to check on her new friend, Dan, as well. Dan was being a good sport and having quite a time with Peter, who enjoyed crawling all over Dan while he and Hettie talked about whether the Lewises were planning on having children or not.
Dan assured her they were looking forward to building their family but not just yet. Jan was enjoying her teaching career and thinking about a master’s degree, and he was intent on building a business. He noticed, though, that Hettie was smiling at him as Peter, who was small for his age but nimble and quick, crawled over his shoulders and kind of laid across Dan’s head while they talked.
Hettie was a few years older than Dan and Jan, but Dan instantly developed a small, innocent crush on her. She looked a bit like Dr. Lilith Sternin (who was wonderfully played by the actress Bebe Neuwirth) on Cheers, but it was more the way she seemed to instantly love Jan and himself that drew him towards her. Dan also admired the grace Hettie showed with her family.
John and Hettie had met in college in 1977 during their junior year and married quickly. John got his degree in Computer Science from their alma mater, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Hettie got her degree in Nursing. After graduation, the couple moved to Phoenix when John got a job with IBM.
Hettie told Dan about all of this and how, when Allie came along in 1981, she had left her job at Good Samaritan Hospital to focus on Allie and had not regretted it one bit. She did work part-time now at Phoenix College in their school of nursing as adjunct faculty, which she liked, but she was happiest tending to her family.
By the end of their first meal together, the Lewis and Rawls family had bonded. When Jan and Dan finally headed home a little after midnight, Jan said, “I like them. Can we keep’em?”
He assured Jan they were most certainly going to keep them, and the two families made it a regular thing to have dinner together on the weekends. Most of the time, early on, they would gather at the Rawls’ house, but every so often they would get together at Dan and Jan’s small condominium. This was usually when Hettie would allow one of the neighborhood teens who could pass Allie’s interview questions to babysit.
Dan ended up finding office space in an area called mid-town in Phoenix just off Central Avenue. Jan didn’t bat an eye when he told her he would have cough up a pretty penny to secure the lease for two years and the two celebrated by christening what they thought would become his new office with some something that straddled the line between R- and X-rated fun.
When the room ended up being a conference room, Dan decided he would just keep what happened between him and Jan in there to himself, but the two of them laughed about it for a long time and it was often asked, in times of romance or just good ol’ marital fun, “Conference time?”
Jan spilled the beans to Hettie over margaritas when the families were vacationing together on Mission Beach in 1996. She had half expected Hettie to be shocked, but Hettie just laughed and said, “you guys only fucked in there once? Amateurs.” Jan knew Hettie was feeling good because she only said “Fuck” when she was buzzed. The rest of the time, it was always, “Fudge.”
That trip was to celebrate the fifth-year anniversary of Evolve opening its doors.
See you tomorrow.
Stolen from the interwebs.....This is what Hettie looks like.