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Out there on the world wide web is an entire page of Vann’s work, but I couldn’t find it. His tiny self-portrait is somewhere below.

The timing was not good: about two weeks after we hired our newest employee, we sent him home and told him to stay there. This turns out to not be the best way to get to know someone.

Ben, our graphic designer for eight years, gave notice in January that he would be leaving us at the end of February. (Timing turned out to be not so good for him, either, and I’d feel a lot more sorry for him if not for his wife’s written assurance that he was getting out of a “dead-end job.” At least it was a job.)

In one of those moments of kismet that happens every so often at Pat’s, a week before Ben gave notice a man came in with his graphic design resume, looking for a position we didn’t think we had. So there we were, about two weeks after Kara told him we didn’t have an opening, calling to set up a meeting at the coffee-bike shop down the street.

Now, you should know that kismet was not so evidently on hand the last time we went looking for a graphic designer. Rachelle had given notice that she wanted to leave one December, and after going through an applicant pool featuring designers who only wanted to work part-time, untested yet arrogant college students and personal train wrecks, I begged Rachelle to stay until May, which she agreed to.

And then Ben, newly graduated from a university in California with a degree in printmaking and following his uncle’s advice to spend a season operating the ski lifts at Crested Butte, walked past our shop, saw the screens on the walls, and came through our door. And didn’t leave for eight years.

We actually were quite fortunate this time around, because another business here in town forwarded the name of an intern for whom they didn’t have a job, so without even looking we had two very viable candidates. (It’s probably moot now, but we did tell our second candidate that if we needed help this summer, the job would be hers.)

vann 0420 From the moment we met him, Vann has come across as warm, personable and welcoming. He’s been in the valley for nearly two decades, and it turned out we’d worked with him when he was on the staff of the Crested Butte Parks and Rec department.

I didn’t learn this until later, but he married into the same ranch family my late friend J.W. Campbell did (one generation younger), and he is the dad of an extremely charming five-year-old, scheduled to start kindergarten this fall.

Vann didn’t say a single wrong thing in either of the meetings (you can’t, in good conscience, call them “interviews”) we had with him at the coffee shop, and of everything he said right, this was my favorite: The last job he held was at a marijuana dispensary. But when he thinks of his father, identifies him, it’s as a preacher, and Vann didn’t want his daughter growing up thinking of him as a “drug dealer.” He wants her to see him as an artist and graphic designer.

Vann frames lots of things around his daughter, as the more stay-at-home parent for her first five years. One of the things both of them were excited about was that Mahthilda would get to come to work with him occasionally, since children are not allowed near dispensaries.

Sadly, though, Mahthilda has not been allowed to come to work. Vann has barely been allowed to come to work, since he can do the majority of his job remotely.

It is a sadness: he has been with us for two months now, and I don’t feel I know him much more than I did when we met for coffee. Kara has worked with him far more closely, and they’re both watching the same cooking challenge show, but I doubt she feels like she knows him much at all. Even his face is still somewhat of a mystery, because he was an early adapter of masks, due to a cold that materialized shortly after he started.

We have been extremely fortunate in that we hired someone competent and capable, who was able to go home two weeks after starting a new job and figure it out remotely, but I feel so cheated. He seems like such an interesting person, but I have not been able to make it past “seems like” to “turns out to be.”

The few times he puts in an appearance, he does so not by bike, usually not by car, but on a one-wheel skateboard that even in healthy times I wouldn’t ask to try because I can just tell by looking at it that I would barely make it on before falling off and damaging myself.

Instead of hoarding toilet paper like every other American, Vann and his wife installed a bidet. He and I have interacted through current events conversations, and yesterday he suggested he could take a look at my recalcitrant work computer.

I would really like to know him better, and I suppose we’ll get there eventually. It’s just going to be so much more gradual a process than it usually is.

One of the reasons we hired him was to boost our marketing, which for 20 (probably 40, knowing Pat as I did) years has consistently relied almost exclusively on word-of-mouth. Right now seems like a great time to be working on marketing, but: it’s a new job, and he’s back to being a full-time parent, with his daughter’s preschool closed and his wife now back at work full-time.

Everything’s a process these days, or so it seems, and our goal is to get through it intact. Somewhere, though, down there as a sub-goal, is my personal wish to get to know my new colleague better.

Vann combined parenting with marketing for this video, found on our Facebook page (and I believe I surprised myself by successfully managing to post it here). Go Team Mahthilda!

Okay, it turns out I’m not nearly as technologically proficient as I allowed myself to believe, and not only can I not post the video, whatever link I found for our page is a paragraph long. You’ll just have to find us on Facebook.

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