If You Had Come to Me In Friendship (Issue 1090)

In which we are reminded to invest in relationships before we need them.

Our server wheeled a cart to our table. “Are you ready for the best guacamole in the world?”

“Yes,” I replied, rolling my eyes for the benefit of my dinner companion. “Yes, I’d like some of the best guacamole in the world.”  We were out for an early dinner on a Wednesday evening.

With quick spoon strokes, our server scooped three avocados into a heavy bowl.  Working with a wooden spoon and a metal spoon, he mashed and turned the avocado, squeezing in the juice from three limes, then adding, by turn, chopped tomato, white onion, salt and pepper, garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Grinning, I reached for a tortilla chip, scooped a prodigious portion of the guacamole thereon, opened wide, bit down, chewed, and swallowed. Magnificent.  A wonderful way to begin a meal.

After swallowing, as  I effused, “That was really  good,” I noticed a bit of a sharp poke on the side of my tongue.  After swallowing again, I said, “I think I broke a tooth!”

While I didn’t feel any pain, there was definitely a gap in the upper left molar line up.   Tooth 15, for those keeping score at home.  Distal lingual surface.

After a few minutes more dinner conversation, I thought, “I’d better call my dentist.”

So, I called him. His office was closing for the night.

“Are you in pain?”, his receptionist, Mary, asked.


“Hold on for a moment, Nick.”

When she came back, she said, “The best I can do for you is the day after tomorrow at 1:30 with Dr. Walden”, another dentist in the practice.

“Can’t Dr. Howard stay a few minutes late for me tonight to fix this?”

She put me on hold for a moment.  When she returned, she replied, “No, he can’t. Dr. Howard  is  leaving tomorrow for his vacation.

“Well,” I thought, “that stinks. I’ve been Dr. Howard’s patient  for 30 years. He owes me this. He should do this for me!”

I recalled one of Don Corleone’s lines in the opening scene of the movie, “The Godfather”: “Someday – and that day may never come – I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.”  Well, this was my time, and I was calling upon Dr. Howard to do a service.

But, that evening, as I watched that scene again on YouTube, I was reminded of Don Corleone’s point, a few moments earlier, when he first responded to a request from a local undertaker:

“We’ve known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship.”

I thought about that for a few minutes….  I couldn’t remember the last time I took my dentist out for a cup of coffee or for dinner to thank him for taking such good care of me and my family for 30 years. Or when I wished him a happy birthday.  Or sent him a gift at Christmas to express my gratitude for his skill and attention.

While we’ve known each other many years… he’s learned that I never wanted his friendship. So, why should I be surprised that he would not do me the favor of staying late, the night before starting his family vacation?

In addition to dentists, we also have clients.  We have centers of influence and community networks. We have suppliers. We have team members who deliver the products or services we sell.  Whether we’ve known them for a long time or not, have we developed the friendships that will support us when we need counsel or help?  Or are we just, “all business”?


Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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