I got the call from Mark Haines when Squawk Box was in its first year. I was a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and he invited me on air.
I said something like, “I’m not sure I look TV.” He responded, “You obviously have never seen me.”
That was my introduction to Mark Haines. And when I saw him in one of his rare visits to CNBC HQ in Englewood Cliffs – shortly after I arrived back a year ago – I thanked him for being the first one to get me on air here.
In his gruff voice, he responded matter-of-factly while sitting in a makeup chair, “You know how many people tell me that?”
To Mark, on air, I was ‘Erb (he dropped the “H”) and since my return he always introduced me saying something like, “Now let’s pay a visit to ‘Erb’s Garden.” I loved it! (Any nickname from Mark was coveted.)
Usually I would just do my hit and he wouldn’t interact, but two weeks ago he did. I forget the subject, but he emphatically disagreed with what I was saying, so I shot back on air, “We’ll agree to disagree” and enjoyed what I thought was a respectful on air tangle.
After the show a producer said he was really angry at what I said – and angry at me.
I was stunned because I meant no disrespect.
I called him immediately. (Actually, I called and called until he answered.) I told him I meant no disrespect and that he’s the last guy I would want to upset. He responded doing what he did with so many – teaching me a lesson I won’t soon forget: “If you want to disagree with me you can say, ‘That’s a great point, but I’ve got another point of view — but don’t tell me I’m wrong.”
And then he said, “I really appreciate you calling.”
The next day it was business as usual. His intro: “‘Erb’s Garden.”
That meant he had put it behind him. You have no idea how happy I was.
Herb Greenberg is senior stocks commentator for the network appearing on CNBC’s Business Day programming and on CNBC.com.