Kimberly sighed.  “Well, that sucks.  And of all the things I thought you might say, dissolving the company was just about the opposite of what I expected.”  She hesitated.  “Would a 30% increase in efficiency have saved you?”

Joey let out a cluck of humorless laughter.  “I know.  We talked about that.  Sure, it helps to be more efficient, but it wouldn’t have saved us.  This time the problem wasn’t inefficient media storage or lost files, it was a lack of clients.  I know we wasted a lot of time with our cobbled-together system, but I had nothing but time to waste and had to send people home.”  He smiled sadly.  “You don’t have to carry this one.  You couldn’t have fixed it.”

“Says you,” Kimberly answered.  “I’m not so sure.”

“What would a new shared storage system have done that could have given us more clients?” Joey asked, not as much in anger as an attempt to communicate the futility.  “SkyTech can work miracles, but those weren’t the kind of miracles we needed.”

“Right.  I see that,” Kimberly said.  “I meant me.  I could have helped you.  Still can, but if it’s too late, it’s too late.

“It is too late,” Joey repeated.  “What do you mean you?  You, not SkyTech?”

“Dude, I’m your friend,” Kimberly said.  “I met you through SkyTech, and SkyTech still wants to help, but I’m also allowed to do things on my own time.  I help my friends when I can.”

“You guys were awesome, but you were building us a system that we now don’t need,” Joey said.  “There’s nothing more to say.”

There was a long pause before she spoke.  “I wasn’t building a system, I was creating something to help a friend.  I’m still doing that.”  Kimberly sighed.  “You’ve had bad experiences in the past.  But I’m not them.  SkyTech is not them.  We said we work with our friends and we mean it.”

He hadn’t thought about it.  Kimberly had been extremely friendly, no question, but he had always assumed that was just how she did business.  It was clear he’d been wrong.  “You really mean it, don’t you?  You really are trying to be my friend.”  He chuckled, this time with a real smile.  “Ok.  Yes, I can be your friend.  That is, if you can hang out with unemployed losers, because I just lost my job.”

Kimberly grumbled.  “I’m in marketing, and you didn’t even let me know there was a problem.  You needed more clients—you only lost your job because you didn’t have marketing.”

“I couldn’t afford marketing,” Joey said.  “If I couldn’t afford to buy the tools to do our job, I certainly couldn’t afford some marketing package.”

“Joey, I’m not going to argue with you.  I’ll just say this.  1) Marketing is the last thing you cut from the budget because that’s where the rest of the money is generated, and 2) I never said anything about money.”  Kimberly chuckled.  “I started life in theatre and then moved into education before working with SkyTech.  I can turn muslin into marble for $5 and give a 35 kid classroom an amazing cultural experience for free if I plan it right.  You didn’t ask.”