Josef Schneider tells the sad and true story of a man in Utah who, after 20 years in the flag business, sold his company last Sept. 1. Talk about bad timing. "Can you imagine? It's like you had the winning $5 million lottery ticket and you lost it," Schneider said.
Last Sept. 11, Schneider, owner of Colorado Springsbased
www.flagline.com, found himself on the receiving end of a flood of orders for American flags. The phone was ringing six times a minute -- 15,000 orders in all -- until Schneider finally had to turn it off for a while to catch up.
The stress level was awesome, not just for the flag man and his five employees, but for back-ordered patriots who had to wait to express their rage and loyalty.
"I was called all kinds of names," said Schneider. "One guy named Smith said, 'If I would have known you were a foreigner, I wouldn't have bought a flag from you." Schneider, who is from Austria, reminded Smith that all of us were once foreigners. Smith snapped back that his family has been in the United States for five generations.
One of the next calls was from another man named Smith, and when Schneider recounted what had just happened, the second Smith cheered him up. "Well, you just tell him that my family has been here for eight generations and I could have kicked his sorry ass."