D ovi Gelber was humming as he walked down the hall. It was time for the monthly meeting with his father-in-law, never an unpleasant experience, but even more exciting when the numbers were good.

The new associate, Kellner, was no Chaim Reimer, but he was slowly turning a corner. Reimer had 30 years’ worth of accounts and the benefit of experience. When he’d left, some of the older clients had complained that they’d relied on Reimer’s “magic touch.” Dovi had bristled, telling his wife each evening that there was nothing Chaim Reimer had that couldn’t be taught in a few weeks. Kellner had some rough edges too, but Dovi had proclaimed it his personal mission to transmit not just the fundamentals of finance, but also of customer relations.

(When he’d announced this at a meeting, Braunfeld had whispered, “That’s good, because customer relations might actually be something you know about.” Dovi had glared at him and Braunfeld shrugged. “Sorry, I was just missing Chaim.” Gelber, feeling empowered, had said, “That’s great, maybe go visit him and ask him how the whole chasing-skunks-and-dealing-with-homesick-kids thing is going.” Braunfeld, feeling bold, said, “Actually, I just texted him this week. He says he’s loving it.” Dovi had shuffled his papers pointedly and returned to business.)

He came into his father-in-law’s office and grinned. “Hey, look who came in from the golf course?”

Mendy Coleman grinned, but Dovi saw tension under the smile. His father-in-law didn’t mind gentle teasing about his light workload. In fact, he spent most of his time away from the office learning or playing golf and was usually happy to discuss either of those pursuits.

“Is something wrong?”

Mendy Coleman sighed. “Nah, nothing much. I just hung up with Chaim, that’s all.”

Dovi felt a stab of annoyance. This was a sore point. His father-in-law had backed him wholeheartedly when it came to Chaim’s leaving. He’d agreed that Chaim’s constant sarcasm was bad for morale and that if Dovi was to succeed, then he’d need to feel comfortable and in control.

That was then. Mendy had been eager to retire and see Dovi succeed. Now, Mendy was finding himself with more time on his hands than he’d realized and he missed having Chaim around the office. There was no question that Chaim had been good at what he did, and made everyone else better, too. Dovi sensed the unexpressed resentment and felt compelled to justify his move every single day.

“Yes, Tatty, I know he’s your good friend, it can’t be easy. But look at the numbers. Kellner is showing so much promise — and he costs us so much less. The meetings run smoother without Chaim. You have to understand that we…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I just worry for him. I was sure he’d find himself a new business, similar to what he did here, but the camp is for real. I don’t get it. He used to talk about that camp like it was a punishment. He would complain all week if they had to spend Shabbos there. He never understood his father-in-law, how a grown man can be happy making a living from organizing punchball games, as he would say. It’s too weird.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 661)