In Renaissance's first excursion into the serial world, we meet Kurt Smith, consultant. The following is his story - the first in a five part series. Sit back and enjoy.
JON MICHAEL WARSHAWSKY is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. "Carpe Per Diem" and Kurt Smith are products of the author's imagination.
Carpe Per Diem
Having known Kurt Smith for only several years, I consider it a singular honor to have been asked to write this foreword to his autobiography. It is in many ways the ultimate tribute to our friendship.
From the outset, Carpe Per Diem was conceived as the often fictional memoir of a consultant, written by an often fictional consultant. It is intended neither as a recommendation of systems consulting as a career nor as an indictment of an ambiguous and exasperating profession whose ranks, while industrious and hard working, draw overwhelmingly from that common career category, the undecided.
As a consultant writing the story of a consultant, the author has made every effort to ensure that the words before you have been created in an authentic setting. Carpe Per Diem, in its earliest draft, owed its existence entirely to time found waiting at airports for delayed flights, time spent enroute from one unappealing industrial city to an even worse one, or uneventful nights at more overbooked hotels in more cities than we could ever hope to count. Under no circumstances was leisure time devoted to this endeavor.
Kurt and I share the opinion that it is best read while sitting in the middle seat in the rear of a completely sold-out flight between two heavy-set women with babies in their laps, perhaps on a flight that has been delayed for a few hours due to some miscellaneous bolt missing somewhere on the engine mount, possibly somewhere in the impenetrable grey gloom of the snowbound Midwest, perhaps sometime in January.
I was delighted and honored when my closest friend, Kurt Smith, asked me to write the preface to his account of his consulting experience. I know he has many acquaintances and I was both surprised and gratified when he told me that he had reserved the preface for me.
All I want to say is that Kurt spent a lot of years with Anders & Yount, and that what he writes is largely true, except possibly for some parts that seem kind of contrived and a few others that are completely fiction. But then it could be no other way. Consulting is a strange and demanding profession. The pages you have in front of you are a document of this unique career told from the perspective of a guy who was there, in the trenches where the consulting battle is waged: racing to catch the late flights, dozing on the red-eyes, sitting in the airport between ill-timed connections, studying the arrivals board, hanging out at the baggage claim, jogging to another gate in the nick of time, or killing a few late hours in the airport bar waiting for the next flight. Kurt was never great at figuring out the travel thing, actually. The rest of us were always in and out without any problems.
Kurt and I began working at A&Y within a few months of each other, and I have always regarded him as the epitome of a true consultant. Kurt overcame a lot of adversity and a worthless major in college to become what I consider to be a professional of average ability but good character. You might not want him on your project, but if you needed someone to watch your cat for a week you could count on Kurt.
His autobiography, a more eloquent statement of his life than any words I could set down on this page, speaks for itself.
When my co-worker and mentor Kurt Smith said he specifically wanted me to write the introduction to Carpe Per Diem, we were in a bar in Las Vegas and it was almost three in the morning. The piano player had touched the keys for the last time and the few of us in the piano bar had smoked our last cigarettes and dropped the butts in our empty glasses as the hour made itself felt.
Kurt handed me the manuscript, bought me another Jack Daniel's and asked me to tell him what I thought. Fighting exhaustion, I sat in the bar, worked on my drink and read. Four long hours later, I had finished the first draft and set it down on the table in front of me long enough to wipe the tears from my eyes.
It was awful.
The story dragged, there were typos everywhere and his memory for detail was unbelievably bad. The dialogue was not even remotely realistic, and a lot of the names were wrong. Even the plot was absurd, and the central character was an idiot. For an autobiography, this was weak, to say the least.
I apologized, for whatever reasons, told him that there was no way in hell that I would ever put my name on a slapdash pile of rubbish like his manuscript and wrote this disclaimer instead.
|Copyright ©1998 Jon Michael Warshawsky. Reprinted by permission of the author.|