There are people who pass through our lives and we sometimes don’t know why until they’re a disappearing speck on the horizon, the kind you can barely see behind the atmospheric waves coming off the ground, but you keep watching until you’re sure they’re gone. That’s the point though. The impression of those people never leaves you, because they touched you with something enduring. A life’s lesson. Like mutual respect.
On Friday afternoon I received a quick email reminding me of a co-worker’s last day. I made a mental note to call him on the ride to the Cape. After getting his voicemail, I told Joyce how this man always opened any conversation with inquiries about Megan or Jessica or Maddy or Kyle. He knew their names. And while I know it was a core competency of his job to know those names and what motivated people, I’ve known few people with his ability to make those exchanges so real. I told her how that effort to know me and always ask about my family made me willing to “run through a wall” for him.
Oh, and I did. I spent a few weekends running through walls that began with a program request on a Friday afternoon and a rollout on Monday morning. My efforts were never taken for granted. They were always recognized. I’ve had the privilege of working for and with quite a few people like that at Kronos, including the guy in the corner office who often asks employees at every level, “Hey, how’s it going?” Then stays there to hear the answer and invest his time in conversation. Maybe that’s the secret to our success at Kronos. Mutual respect.
I got home tonight in the dark joke of dwindling daylight. I scraped useless flyers and political ads from my non-virtual mailbox. There was one small envelope worth opening. The blue, cursive note read:
You’re a good man, an excellent father and grandfather.
We have done a lot of quality work together.
I will miss you.
I’ll miss you too. You let me know if you ever have a wall that needs running through.
As one of the people running through the walls next to you, thank you for writing about this very special man. There were many projects, escalated customer visits, missed flights, internal nay-sayers and waldrobe malfunctions over the years. The extreme challenge of executing his ideas were overshadowed by how disarming it was to do work for someone who constantly cheered us on with pride. He loved hearing something was deemed impossible, just to prove everyone wrong. Most importantly, when he made a mistake or error in judgement, he owned it and asked for forgiveness. There were times I thought he was completely crazy. I was so fuming mad the day we were taking a “charter flight” from Wisconsin to some remote area in Missouri. In the rain at 6am, I was completely shocked that to get into the plane I had to walk (in 3 inch heels) on the wing to get to the door. As I clutched my Kate Spade laptop bag like a newborn child, he held out his hand to me from the plane and said, “Barbie, you know I would never let anything bad happen to you – trust me”. If you could have seen the look on his face and the roaring laughter that followed when I stretched my arm to hand him my bag and said, “I don’t care about me – take my bag”! What a character he is and what character he has.