The Small Importance Mediator

  The sign over the door read “Devil in the Details, Inc.”  It was intriguing, to say the least.  Normally, Grant would have read it and puzzled over it for a moment as he drove past but then it would be gone, blown aside by the next news story or song on the radio, erased by another text message, written over by some other new sight

But, today he was not driving.  He was walking and killing time.  It was, indeed, unsual.  But, his car had desperately needed an oil change and the mechanic talked him into changing some belts and transmission fluid while he was at it.  Grant knew he was right, and now was as good a time as any.  So, he assented and left the keys with the manager, shook hands with the mechanic, and nodded when told, “Two hours, tops.”

He walked out of the shop, turned the corner and walked down the boulevard to the strip mall.  Maybe some Orange Chicken at the Won Ton Cafe would be good.  Read a little news on his phone.  Relax with a boba tea.   And then there was that sign.  Weird.  He didn’t remember seeing it before.  With time to kill, he couldn’t resist peering through the windows.

The interior was clean but spartan.  It looked new but not shiny new but rather unfurnished new.  A couple desks and a potted plant on a small table next to a couple chairs.  A calendar on the wall.  A man at one desk looked up at him and nodded.

Grant nodded back.  The man went back to work.  His hair was gray but he was not old, or rather, at least, not elderly.  In his fities?  Sixties?  Late forties?  Hard to say.  His dress was conservative but neither shabby nor extravagant.  It was neat and trim.  He had no facial hair but wore small, rimless rectangular glasses.

And he was looking at Grant again.  This time, he looked a little puzzled.  Grant felt suddenly self-conscious.    This guy looked like an accountant crossed with a librarian.  And Grant now very much wanted to know what his business was.  So, he walked in.

The door jingled behind him cheerfully.  Once inside, he could hear vague light Jazz music.  The man smiled.  “Can I help you, sir?”

“I’m sorry, I was just reading your sign, and-“

“You wanted to know what it meant.  What kind of business this is?”

Grant nodded, “You get that a lot?”

The old man smiled again.  “Not really.  But, sometimes.  Most people that come in here know exactly why they’ve come.  They’ve come because they have a matter of small importance that they need help with.  I am a mediator of small importance.”

Grant laughed, but not unkindly.  “That explains why business is slow.  Who needs a small importance mediator?

“Everyone, at some point or another.  This is not divorce court, I admit.  And, I’m not brokering negotiations for a billion dollar corporate takeover.  But, just like there is small claims court, I provide mediation for small matters of little importance.”

“Fair enough.  So, you might negotiate for me when I buy a car?”

“That would be a matter of significant importance.  Maybe if it was a used car.  But, even that could be quite important.  No, I handle the disagreements that seem petty and may even escape your attention.  But, you see, the devil is in the details.  I can provide assistance when others will turn their nose up at you.  For example, what will you have for dinner tonight?”

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Grant said.

“Not important enough?”

“Not yet.”

“But you are married, I see.  So, you will discuss it with your wife.  Yes?  But, who decides?”

“Well,” Grant replied, “we both do.  We talk about it and figure it out.”

“Ever have trouble with that?”

“Actually, yes, now that you mention it.  Sometimes neither of us wants to decide, I guess.”

“Then you call me.  You can pay me per call or on retainer.   This way, you can reserve your brain power for much more important ideas and thoughts.  Need to know which movie to see?  What about if that shirt makes you look fat?  Paper or plastic?”

“You’re joking.”

“Not in the least.”

“Who pays for that?”

“People with matters of great importance on their minds, clearly.”

Grant thought about it for a moment.  “Do you have a card?”

The man smiled, handed Grant a business card.  The shook hands.  Grant turned to leave.

“Thanks for coming by.”  The man waved at him.  Grant waved back and headed out the door.


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