When Mr. Patel asked me to write this post about him, the inner-child in me was filled with glee. Finally, I would have a chance to let the world know what I really thought about Tic Toc Tom’s founder!
However as I sat down to write, a disturbing feeling came over me. Am I really free to let my thoughts flow, unencumbered? How can a writer truly give an honest account of someone who is; in essence, his boss?*
Mr. Patel first asked me to work on Tic Toc Tom when we were in college. In fact, it took him less than a half hour after meeting for the first time to suggest that I “contribute” something to the book. I didn’t know it at the time but, he had already ensnared me with the promise of “exposure” for my work.**
I have to admit that in the early years I was hypnotized by his silky turns of phrase and his devilish man-child grin. I don’t think there is a man or women alive who can resist his charismatic charm. Am I right Ken and Pritika?
But since then I’ve come to view him and his machinations in a different light.
Mr. Patel is; in the great traditions of leaders such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan and Idi Amin, a visionary. Sure, perhaps he is a brutal and dictatorial visionary but as far as I know he’s killed far less people and I assume has better hygiene. Mostly due to access to a steady supply of running water.
He has been able to keep a great idea going for over two decades. And he did so by engaging and inspiring creators. His incessant and fiery nagging for stories and artwork has built a legacy that shall live for at least a year or so after his demise, when the tictoctom.com domain comes up for renewal.
And for that I say, thank you boss-man.
Chetan Patel. Don’t let the smile fool you.
* Although I use the word “boss”, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. Lord knows, Mr. Patel doesn’t pay anyone for their work on Tic Toc Tom and, I guarantee you he’s not given me time off next week when I have to vote in the federal election. And while I’m on it, how about at least a bonus? Is that too much to ask after over 20 years of service? Geez!
** Pro-tip for all of the young artists out there, “exposure” is a euphemism for “working for free”. See also, “intern” and “protégé”.