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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Birth of a Business, Part 2: The Friendly Natives

The women working at the town hall are unabashedly nice. They're friendlier than the women I work with, who are often business-tough or introverted, and the gaggle of them in the town clerk's office chatter like magpies. Marty was efficient as well as chatty and made my DBA official with a signature and a stamp, lickety-split.

I also met Sheryl, of the health department, and Cheryl, of the building department. Health Sheryl was my first stop, and not at all the jogging-suit clad, celery-stick-chomping woman I pictured when I'd called before. She wasn't quite awake, and unlike the town clerk ladies was alone at her post. She was pale and overweight, with that sort of overweight-bulldog look I've come to dread from experience. She was nice, though, and efficient, which is more important than being perky.

Building Cheryl was my favorite. Marty directed me to her for approval of my DBA application before she stamped it up. I wound my way through the labyrinthan town hall to the building department, which to my consternation was dark, door closed. A cheery, harried voice called from behind me: I'm here! I'm just running late! Cheryl flurried her way around me, opened the door, and perched on her chair in the blink of an eye. I'm sorry, I was running late. How can I help you? I recognized a kindred spirit in the bustle of a harried morning, saw her apologetic stress and knew that, like me, try as she might, she just cannot get to work punctually, but always more than makes up the tardy 10 minutes, staying well past closing time. I'm late for work every day, I reassured her, The traffic around here, it's--. The worry left her brow and she grinned with broad relief. It's awful, she agreed. We smiled the smile of mutual understanding in a world of persecution. She was excited about the idea of my business and lent her inititials to the project.

Later in the day, I called the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office to check on the status of my incorporation. I'd received no email, I explained, nor an official form with a wax seal, as I'd pictured. The pleasant woman on the phone chuckled and explained that there's never any notification. Did you check to see if your business is listed on the Web site? I had. It was. Then you're all set. But you can call and we'll give you something with a wax seal if you need it.


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