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When the plane touched down, the Professor awoke from a sound sleep. With all the traveling he did, he counted as one of his blessings that he could sleep anywhere. As the 727 taxied to the gate, the Professor pondered his visit the previous night with Michael.
Michael was considered by many--especially the analysts on Wall Street--to be one of the top managers and business leaders in the country. At one time, the Professor had been proud to consider Michael his best pupil as well as a very good friend. During the three and a half years he had mentored Michael, the Professor and his wife, Allison, had become close friends with Michael and his wife, Carla. Both families lived in the same community just outside of San Diego. They shared common interests, and because their kids were the same age, they often took family vacations together.
The Professor and Michael started to drift apart when Michael accepted a big opportunity in New York. After a few months of fairly regular con tact, Michael started to be slow to return calls from the Professor. When they did talk, if the Professor inquired about something Michael was doing or made any suggestions, there would be an awkward silence at the other end of the phone, or Michael would say he had to take another call.
Maybe it was Michaels attraction to fame and fortune or the pressure to succeed, but whatever it was, the Professors relationship with Michael had slowly faded over the last five years.
Then why last night?
Their reunion had been initiated by Carla. Although he and Michael had lost contact, Carla and Allison had kept in touch over the years. The Professor knew through Allison that Carla was worried aboutMichael, but he hadnt discovered how out of kilter things were until Carla had called him in tears several weeks earlier.
I dont even know Michael anymore," Carla wept, and neither do the kids. All he has time for is work and the next deal. Michael has always worked hard, but he managed to spend time with me and the children. He never does anymore," she said.
"He doesnt seem to be close to or care about anyone at the office, either," Carla continued. "All that counts with him is the bottom line and what the Wall Street analysts think. Im starting to think Im living with a stranger.
"Michael used to listen to you," Carla pleaded with the Professor. "Would you talk to him? Youre my last resort."As good luck would have it, Michael and Carls home north of New York City was less than an hours drive from where the Professor was due to conduct a leadership seminar in a few weeks. Sensing Carlas desperation and being concerned about Michael, the Professor rearranged his schedule to visit them while he was nearby.
"Michael usually gets home around nine oclock," Carla said, thrilled to hear the Professors plan. "I think it would be best if you just surprised him with a visit, saying you were in the area and thought youd stop by..."