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Clients First: The Two Word Miracle by JoAnn Callaway, Joseph Callaway

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Nobody Likes a Martyr

One of JoAnn’s favorite stories about us took place when we were in our early 30s. She worked in a fine furniture store and I worked in a steel fabrication plant in Decatur, Illinois. Only two years before, we had been at a low ebb, broke and starting over. Our girls were 13, 12, and 7. We lived in a small rented house and had worked our way up from the bottom. I started out on the night shift, pressure-testing giant steel vessels, and was now working days and doing job estimating in the company office. JoAnn had risen from selling sofas to assisting the owner of the company in everything from purchasing to managing day-to-day operations.

We were finally getting ahead. We had a little money in the bank and were thinking of buying a new home. But to make that commitment required us to stay where we were, and neither of us wanted that. The girls missed us and we missed each other. The discussion of what to do went on for weeks. We wanted to move to Arizona and start over. I got pneumonia every winter. The furniture store was a family business, and JoAnn was not family. We both felt this huge responsibility weighing us down. Neither of us wanted to make a decision that for us would be life changing. We vacillated between the security of staying and the risk of change. Then, on a Sunday night with Monday morning looming, we found ourselves shouting in the kitchen. I finally voted to go and waited for an answer. She said, “Why does it always have to be me?”

I said, ...

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