My friend and client Ed Beard told me about a new couple in the Napa Valley. They had bought a small parcel and built a small winery and home. Ed suggested to me that they might be a future client of mine. At that time I was vineyard consulting for ten or so vineyard owners and winery/vineyard owners in the Napa Valley. Thinking I could take on an additional client. (50 years old or so at that time), I followed Ed’s direction and drove to the property just north of St. Helena.
I found a beautiful new home, single story with a southern style covered porch circling around the entire house. I trudged forward at around 5pm and gently knocked on what I thought was the back door. I soon introduced myself to a thirtyish looking, athletic man no bigger than myself. For those who know me, I am less than average size. He introduced himself as Chuck Shaw. He welcomed me in after my self-introduction and mentioning the name of Ed Beard. What I came into was a large family room well adorned with period style furniture. Chuck was having a martini and asked if I would care for one. I politely declined but could not refuse a glass of Charles F. Shaw Chardonnay. No sooner than I had taken a sip of a delightful wine, (I refuse to use all of the buzzwords that aficionados use) than the phone rang. Chuck answered with usual “hello.”
The conversation soon turned emphatic. The caller was one of the Shaw children. She was standing outside of the school in St. Helena waiting to be picked up by her mother. This was long before cell phones were even thought of. And would DAD please come and get her. It was getting dark and she was getting scared. Chuck turned to me and explained that the reason he was in the house so early was that they had a new 3 day old baby in the adjoining bedroom. Well, being an experienced father of three girls, I did what every other father would do. I volunteered to watch the 3 day old while Chuck raced into town to pick up his school aged daughter. I told Shaw not to worry, I had good credentials. He truly didn’t know who I was from a load of coal. He jumps into his BMW530I and drives away at full steam. No sooner than he is gone that the phone rings. “Hello, Shaw residence” I politely answer. “Who is this?’ came from the receiver. I tried to explain in vain who I was but the conversation quickly went south. There was nothing I could say to calm down the woman on the other end of the phone, who I suspected was Mrs. Shaw. I was now on the receiving end of a call from a completely hysterical person.
I continued to oversee the house and its precious occupant for what now seems like hours, but probably was for only fifteen minutes. Soon two sets of headlights were in the driveway. The back door opened and Chuck came in with two school aged children in tow. Mrs. Shaw then appeared in the doorway with a newspaper completely covering her face in embarrassment for the way she spoke to me. Chuck could not thank me enough for what I had done.
Evidently the Shaw son had a medical problem at school and called his mom. Chuck was summoned to come to the house to watch the new 3 day old. When Mrs. Shaw picked up the son mid-day she determined that a trip to the doctor was in order. Since it was mid-day she thought she could get to the doctor’s office in Napa and back to the school in time to pick up the daughter. Well, that did not happen. The doctor’s visit was longer, followed by a trip to the drug store, and now a daughter was standing in front of the school at 5 pm with darkness approaching. Thus the frantic call to dad, probably from a pay phone, which now are non-existent.
I told Chuck that we could continue the conversation about my services at a later date.
(To be continued…)