The Case of the Graybeard’s Replacement

This is the Sam Sector III (get it, third sector) saga. If you check on a regular basis you can follow the escapades of Sam “the greatest and only nonprofit detective in the world” as he answers the questions facing today’s nonprofit leaders. Each installment will take only a couple of minutes to read, will provide you with some information, and will end in a bit of a cliff-hanger so that you will return in about 7-10 days to find out what happened. This of course is fun for me, and a different way to get information out to all of you who have an interest.


The Case of the Graybeard’s Replacement

A Sam Sector III Saga

As told by Emil W. Angelica

Sam trudged up the five flights of stairs to his dark-paneled, walk-up office on Hennepin Avenue near downtown Minneapolis. It had been a tough week, and all these stairs didn’t help; he was looking forward to a restful weekend. The door he opened had his name stenciled in gold letters on the frosted glass: Sam Sector III – Nonprofit Detective. It’s not easy when you are the greatest (and only) nonprofit detective in the world. There is always plenty of work, but not much money in it. Stella, his loyal secretary, was doing some research on the internet. Sam settled on the corner of her desk, glancing through Friday’s mail – no checks, only bills.

“You have a visitor, Sam. She’s in your office.” Stella was her usual efficient self, nodding toward his private office while tickling the keys on her 1985 Mac SE. “Sam, we gotta get a computer that was made in this century!! I’m incompatible with everything,” she admonished as she smoothed her blue and white striped taffeta skirt and crossed her legs in a way that let Sam know she was annoyed.

Sam smiled. Some lines were better left unsaid. “Who is she?”

“I dunno, Sam. But she looks real smart and worried — like she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.”

Sam rubbed the stubble on his chin. “Probably a nonprofit ED who’s been around the block a few times — they all look like that. But you would too – tough, thankless job. I know — been there, done that.”

An involuntary shudder passed through his body as he opened his office door. She sat on the overstuffed chair across from his desk. With a look of recognition on her face, the short redhead rose and walked toward him. “Hi, Sam. Long time, no see. You haven’t changed – still the same good lookin’ galoot.”

“You’re looking good too, Gracie,” Sam lied, changing the subject. “How have you been doin’ – how’s the job treatin’ ya?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. I got staff problems – I can’t figure out what the foundations are funding – got a United Way site visit Monday – Board turnover is causing me fits – and, of course, the usual financial challenges. But, that is not why I’m here. I need help answering a question that my Board Chair popped at the last meeting.”

“Sure, Gracie — anything for you.” Sam readied his steno pad and the Parker fountain pen his mom gave him when he opened the office.

“Well, he caught me off guard, Sam, when he queried, ‘What are we gonna do when you leave, Gracie?’ I don’t mind telling you I was flabbergasted. I haven’t thought about how to replace myself.”

“Hey, you’re not goin’ anywhere soon, you gave me a can of corn, Gracie,” Sam chuckled as he blew the dust off two shot glasses he removed from his top-right desk drawer. He could see that she was worried, but he did not have any ready answers. Sam squinted as, from the bottom drawer, he pulled a half-full pint bottle of amber liquid and an onion sandwich wrapped in wax paper. “Wanna share my lunch and have a pick-me-up?”

Gracie pulled back involuntarily at the smell of the sandwich. “I think I’ll pass, Sam, but you go ahead. Will you help me? I haven’t done anything to plan for the future when I’m gone. You know I can’t keep doing this forever, besides, the board and staff need to have a plan in place in case I’m hit by the proverbial bus. By the by, Sam, I don’t have any money to pay you…”

“Aww… Gracie, don’t let’s get into money talk — we go back too far for me to bill ya. Let’s call it an in-kind contribution.” Sam’s eyes watered, but Gracie couldn’t tell if it was from emotion or the limp onion sandwich he was chewing. He knocked back his two fingers of amber liquid, snapped his brown fedora at a jaunty angle on his head and, with a wag of his finger, left Gracie alone in his office. “I got ya covered, stop back in a coupla days and I’ll have something for ya. Stella, get Gert in here first thing Monday morning, and I’d like Teddy in around 1:00. I’ve got some research to do this weekend.”

Read the second installment →

If you have ideas that can help Sam as he works on his current case, or if you have "cases" that you would like to see Sam take on, please email me.