It has become a joke between us. Or, more specifically, my husband’s amusement.
He will hear me on the phone — usually a land line — as I talk to a television executive. Sometimes, the president of the network.
When I hang up the phone — normally I am standing in the midst of the kitchen, with a black cast iron skillet nearby — I will proceed with cooking or sweeping or moping, unimpressed with the level of power with which I have just been speaking.
My husband, Tink, who grew up in the midst of a Hollywood television family where the housekeeper was much beloved for her Southern fried chicken, will chuckle.
“That little girl from Rural Route One is taking on the Hollywood television powers.” Normally, I’ll shrug and start to fry okra — or okrie as my people call it — but he will continue.
“Who would have ever thought that the little red-headed girl sitting on the front steps with her little collie dog, would be talking to the president of a network, discussing business?”
He said this so often and for so long that, finally, I began to take note: It’s a mighty distance from the Appalachian foothills to Hollywood’s high reaches. Finally, I got that part. I even joined the joke. Tink was away, shooting a television series, when I ordered a pair of large, square-shaped costume glasses. They look like the ones that Lew Wasserman, once the mightiest man in Hollywood, always wore.
I called him on a video chat, having texted beforehand to say that I had business to discuss. Visually, the first image he saw was of me in the Lew Wasserman glasses. He keeled over in laughter.
It was so unlike me to have spent ten dollars on costume glasses. From then on, my business name became “LouAnne.” He would sent business documents to review, asking, “LouAnne, would you reply as soon as possible? Should I sign?”
From then on, whenever we discussed business, I pulled out the square, black glasses which always added levity to the situation.
I began to think about it, realizing it was all in the way I was raised. “There are no big ‘I’s’ and little ‘you’s’ in God’s eyes,” Daddy said often. “We are all equal in the eyes of God.”
He practiced those words. The color of a man’s skin or his religion — or lack of — mattered not one iota to Daddy. He cared only about his character and how he honored his word.
That’s a tremendous gift to a child — the equality of all people, regardless of their station in life.
And now it works for me. Without warning or planned action. I treat people the way that Mrs. Rudeseal, my gentle second grade teacher always taught: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
This may surprise you: But I find Hollywood dealmakers to often be among the most honorable people with whom I have ever dealt.
It surprises me even if it doesn’t surprise you. I thought, back in the crevices of my mind, that it would be a cutthroat, back-stabbing business. Sometimes it is. But, more often than not, it is people with scruples doing business together.
One night, Tink and I were video chatting when a text message popped up from a high-ranking television executive, asking for an immediate call.
It was after 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.
“Oops, I gotta go,” I said. “I need to make this call.”
Tink chuckled and shook his head in tremendous amusement. “That little girl from Rural Route One. Who would have ever thought?”
It was later — much, much later — when I realized that our worlds — Tink and mine — were first joined on Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. when a television show produced by his father and starring his stepmother was always watched.
By a little girl from Rural Route One.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “Let Me Tell You Something.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.]