San Francisco, 1984: When I was married to Lori Ingram and Network Answering Service on Geary Boulevard, Lori’s friend Allison moved from Southern California to start a typing business in our office suite.
This was because I’d told her how very easy she would find running her own business. Wherever you are today, dear Allison, I deeply apologize.
Typing. She found the typing part easy. Business. She found the business part difficult. Particularly, she just couldn’t go up and down the street posting flyers, and she just couldn’t make calls to solicit business. The tiny yellow-page ad brought some business, but she just couldn’t stand the monthly cost.
After a while she packed it up. That just left us. And, of course, Bob.
Bob had once worked for me. From Tennessee, religious family, he’d worked in a broom factory and he’d worked fixing Volkswagens. Sounded just perfect for the job of helping me start up Network Answering Service from my studio apartment.
As our first operator (besides me), he did well. Next, he learned how to use my radical new and modern Cromemco computer, and soon he did our books and mailing list.
Then he took on managing the Thumbtack Bugle Postering Service for me. In June of 1983 he bought the Bugle (and a computer), and when we moved to Geary Boulevard, he rented one room of our new, spacious quarters.
Then Allison came and went, and that left the Network Answering Service, and Bob running the Thumbtack Bugle. One day Bob was working on his computer, when a guy showed up, looking for the typing service.
“They closed down,” Bob said.
The guy protested that he needed a letter typed.
“Sorry,” Bob said, “Can’t help you.”
The guy saw Bob typing on the computer, and asked Bob if he could type the letter.
“Nope,” Bob said, “Sorry.”
The guy said he’d pay $15.
Bob paused. “Can I see that letter?”
The man got his letter typed, paid Bob, and left. But this big money set Bob to thinking. At the Thumbtack Bugle, he had to do lots more work for $18.45, the fee to have posters put up around San Francisco. And here was $15 for just a few minutes work!
Soon after, he had an attractive signboard made, which he placed daily out on the sidewalk. And soon his office was busy all day with typing jobs. He got medical transcription from California Street, legal briefs from up and down Geary, and student papers from Lone Mountain College up the hill.
How did he get so much business so fast?
Posters! He was still running the Thumbtack Bugle, so Bob’s Typing! poster called out from bulletin boards all over town. Soon he had to hire help.
The typing service ran for many years, and Bob noticed that he did especially well at proofreading. Why not put up a website? I did a simple one for him; he wrote the copy.
These days, Bob has left the typing business. He bought some land up in the Trinity Mountains, where he has a cabin, a cell phone, a laptop, internet satellite dish, and that same website. He has all the business he can handle, and on nice days he works outside, overlooking the mountains and the lake.
Here is a life, and a success story. Here is a man who moved to the big city to make his fortune, and did so.
See how a life can twist and turn? Here is a man whose life took a turning because of a woman named Allison who gave up, and a pushy guy with $15.