Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Townie Perks

This is #2 in a series of posts with a practical tip buried inside.

I frequently joke about being from Boston and somehow ending up married to a surfer and living at the beach in Los Angeles. Today it really hit home that Surfer Guy is a TOWNIE and it is saving us money. Basically the simple premise of "who you know not what." One of Surfer Guy's buddies since kindergarten has a painting business. He is painting our living room (and doing a spectacular job, btw) for oh, UM, 1/3 of what our contractor's guy bid. We need some electrical stuff done beyond what we had expected. So I asked Surfer Guy last night if he had any buddies who are electricians. Well, sure enough, he does. Why did I have to ASK Surfer Guy about this as I bemoaned the cost for several minutes in front of him and saying stuff like, "what should we do?"

Well, I guess his critical thinking skills got waterlogged yesterday. "The waves are going OFF!" he shouted as he ran in, threw his briefcase and tossed his commuter mug in the sink. I followed him down the hall picking up a tie, dress pants, socks, a loafer, etc. When he returned to me crying over the electrician's bid and saw the amount...Why didn't he say, "Hey, my surf buddy Derek, who I just saw down at the beach, is an electrician!"???? Why did it take me asking? So sure enough, Derek was all over it, came by and offered us a discount that WAY undercuts the contractor's electrician. Yay! On the way out Derek says, "Surfer Guy is a buddy, I'm glad to do this at cost."

The whole six degrees of separation concept. Who you know and who they know. The basic fundamental of any networking situation. Coming home to roost in these tough economic times. Saving us cash.

It's funny, I think everyone has a little bit of townie in them. I mean, as long as you lived someplace, for a few years, I gotta believe you are a townie. When I go back to the suburb of Boston I grew up in, I run into people from my past. I am a townie. I was at my high school reunion last November and was debating who was least recognizable from high school with a buddy of mine I've known since 3rd grade. He's now a cop in town. He tells me, if you ever get pulled over, tell them you know me. And I was like, "Uh, yeah, Tom, thanks, but like 8 guys from high school are on the force." In fact, I was pulled over a few years ago (I guess I was going a little fast) and the cop was a friend of my brother's....Let me go with a "You grew up around here, be careful."

Some people may feel that with today's mobile society, we are rootless, unconnected, can't use a townie connection. Well, you are wrong, you are wrong right there! Get on the social networking scene, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Classmates, Friendster, jeez, the list goes on and on. Reconnect. You can be a townie long distance. Yes, yes, you can! In fact, here is a concrete example for you naysayers: I had a neighbor in a mortgage bind. I called a friend thousands of miles away who I grew up with. He is a mortgage broker. He was able to connect my neighbor with his friend and saved the deal. That helped solidify me as a townie in my new town with this neighbor I helped....And the townie beat goes on.

So here is my practical tip: "Townie Karma": In these tough economic times, embrace whatever townie connections you have to save a few bucks. In return, be a good townie yourself and help your fellow townies out in whatever way you can. We need to stick together.

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