A Hospitality Tech Employee Walks into Thanksgiving Dinner
Disclaimer: This story is somewhat fictional, partly fabricated, and hopefully, relatable
Hi. I'm Bobby. I was born and raised in Chicago and belong to a huge, overly communicative, Irish family. My family expected me to work with my parents at the family paper company – or at least become a firefighter or cop like my uncles and cousins – so when I announced that I was going to college to study marketing, my mom’s face turned so many colors it reminded me that I had to sign up for a graphic design class.
That was the last time I attended my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, until this year.
You see, a few months ago, I landed my dream job as a marketing generalist at a company called Sertifi. Sertifi is an all-in-one solution that allows hospitality and travel professionals to capture and process customer e-signatures, payments, and credit card pre-authorizations securely and seamlessly. I’m proud of my new role and how we help thousands of businesses around the world, so I decided to attend the family Thanksgiving festivities this year. My family is made up of know-it-all hotheads, so I was going to market their pants off and show them how great Sertifi is.
As forks clanked against my mom’s fine china and chewing sounds filled the room, I waited for a lull to make my announcement.
“So,” I stammered, “I have a new job!”
My dad looked up from his plate and said, “That’s great son! What’s the job?” before promptly shoving a forkful of turkey into his mouth.
“I’m a marketing generalist at a company called Sertifi.” I smiled.
“Hmmm, never heard of it,” Cousin Jamie scoffed as cranberry sauce flew out of his mouth. “Is it like a certificate company or something?”
“So, are you’re not too good for another paper company, you’re just too good for your own mother and father?!" my mom wailed.
“Actually mom, it’s Sertifi, not certificate. It is a tech company, and it has nothing to do with my level of respect for those in the office supply industry.” I calmly replied.
“Ha! He just wanted to break away. Too good for fighting crime.” Cousin Mike smirked.
“Actually, our platform can be used to prevent fraud and add an extra layer of secur-”
“Everyone is too good for the cop show, Mike!” Jamie shouted.
“When you say fraud, do you mean imposter scams and money laundering?” Cousin Jennica asked.
“Um, kind of but not really,” I started. “The platform processes credit card payments but first validates the payment information. It catches fraudulent patterns and provides a fraud score, which helps our customers make good decisions while overseeing customer payments.
“Which platform?” Aunt Helen asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Which train platform do you work on?” she questioned. I stared at her sweet, simple face trying to figure out how to answer. My product team did not prepare me for this question.
“Sertifi is not located on a train platform, mother. It’s a digital platform! Technology!” snorted Cousin Theresa.
“I bet I learned about it in my technology class I’m taking at the Y,” said Uncle Pat.
My mom clapped her hands in excitement. “I heard about that! Priscilla from next door learned how to use the fax machine in that class,” she said proudly.
“Actually, the fax machine is not considered to be best practice,” I winced. “When companies want to capture customer signatures or payments, Sertifi users can save time by taking care of everything online instead of using the fax machine to send documents back and forth to each other. Using paper to house personal details isn’t secure either because someone could easily steal that information even if the paper has been shredded.”
My mom stewed. She did not like to be corrected.
“Best practices Bobby?” she questioned in such a chilling tone I was ready to send myself to my room. “First of all, you should not be collecting people’s information. I raised you better than that. Second, how is reading somebody’s payment information on a computer any different than reading it off a piece of paper when the screen is right there for all the world to see? ” She turned to the rest of the family for some obligatory support, but no one moved.
You could hear a pin drop as my family waited to see what I would do next. No one challenged Mother Mary, but I was about to.
“It’s encrypted,” I whispered, barely letting the words fall out of my mouth. Mom scrunched up her face.
“It’s what?” Uncle Don asked looking confused.
“The payment information. The numbers are encrypted so no one can steal them. Sure, once the user plugs in their password information, they can see the actual numbers, but only with two-factor authentication. Plus, paper does not have a password. It’s how we stay PCI compliant,” I said as I stared at the ceiling waiting to be punished. Silence filled the air once again.
Aunt Helen perked up.
“What is P-C-I compli-”
SMASH! Before Aunt Helen could finish her sentence, a piping hot ball of mashed potatoes hit the side of my head. I opened my eyes to find my sister Kayleigh with her spoon pointed toward me, her hand over her mouth, and her eyes wide.
“I just th-, I just, I wanted to break the tension!” she stammered. But it was too late. My cousins were armed and ready for battle.
“FOOD FIGHT!” they screamed in unison, pelting each other with food. Before long, everyone joined in. Even great-aunt Edie. Boy, does she have an arm. As food flew through the air, no one was safe. We laughed and coated each other in meat and carbs. Once the floor and walls were covered with gravy, the tension had been broken, and I felt like I was a member of the family again.
After washing up, we all sat in front of the TV to watch football and my dad plopped down on the couch next to me.
“I’m really proud of you Bobby,” he smiled, “Sertifi seems like an excellent product. You’re providing a great service and following your dreams. It can’t get much better than that for a dad.”
I smiled to myself.
“Thanks, dad, that means a lot,” I said. “I hope I didn’t hurt you or mom’s feelings.”
“You get your passion from your mother and your smarts from me. We just want you to be happy. Paper was our dream, now you go follow yours.” He took a sip of his drink. “By the way, during your spiel earlier, you forgot to mention Sertifi’s ability to integrate with other solutions and the platform’s forever growing travel network made available to travel professionals to offer a quick and secure way to push payment information to its final destination.”
I leaned back in disbelief squinting my eyes at him.
“How do you know that?” I wondered aloud.
“I may be older and I may be a paper salesman, but I keep tabs on my competition. I have the LinkedIn!” We laughed, and I gave him a nudge.
“Fair enough,” I said as I took in the moment. “Do you have any business advice?”
He looked at me and gave me the best advice I have ever been given.
“Enjoy the journey.”
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