A Leg Up

Driven by a dream to become a recognized master of my craft, I moved to Portland in 1985. Five years in a business that was so well insulated from the recent recession, I didn't even know that one existed. I just worked hard, got the hours and managed to keep paying bills, buying gear and taking photo journeys with my camera in the passenger seat.

Until I arrived in Portland, I had no idea how tight things were even in the food biz. I gave up on my Albertsons connections and networked my way to this one-only, family run market in West Linn named Zupans. Leaving a union store to a higher cost of living, for a lower wage was the least of my concerns. I had a vision to pursue, and was given a chance to make it happen so I took it.

I'll never forget the day I met John Zupan, sitting in the manager's office with his store manager, giving me what felt like a military debriefing. The neighborhood I was about to enter, was not the rural, economically depressed backdrop where I'd learned a mass number of corporate acronyms and STRICT payment policies that required even my parents to still show me their two pieces of ID to put on a check.

"You're not at Albertsons anymore. If someone hands you a check for $200 over the amount of purchase, don't hassle them, just get a phone number at give them the money." Culture shock had just been bestowed upon my rigid training, but just looking into the eyes of Mr. Zupan, I could see the wisdom-of-awareness that he knew where I came from and that I'd adopt.

Though John was seeking property to open more stores, my mission was to get the top spot with a decent wage as soon as possible, so that I could free up my weekends for shooting weddings. Recognizing my ambitions, one of my weekend customers scouted me off-the-floor, and invited me to apply at Fred Meyer. I accepted the job, and gave 14 years in 14 different stores as I climbed my way to the position that allowed me to do what I came to do.

While it was the wage, 401k and management training of Freds that would eventually fund my Studio, it was only because of the leg-up that Zupan gave me, that I was able to bridge my way to this career of my dream.

John, you have touched more lives than you'll ever know by hiring Brian Geraths from Eastern Oregon. I have shared my gratitude for your bridge to this now, with many people, but never got to do it to you directly.

I dedicate this note of gratitude to you, John Zupan, who is now in that Field of all-Knowing Energy.

Thank you for the leg up!

Brian GerathsComment