….you find out that a great coworker has died.
John worked as a temp in facilities about 10 years ago. He was this quiet little guy who, to the average person, was just another temp. To those that worked with him during company moves, you found a quick witted, kind hearted guy. He came across as quiet to people he didn’t know. But, was a chatterbox for those who knew him.
He was always in an unfortunate position while in facilities. They had a very tall tree for a reporting structure. He worked for the Facilities supervisor; the only one. His supervisor worked for a team lead who worked for the Facilities manager. He knew he was at the bottom of the pile and handled the shit that rolled down to him with great humor. He was also the hardest worker in that group
I recall fixing his supervisor’s computer one day which meant I got to sit in on their weekly staff meeting (all three of them – him, his supervisor, and his supervisor’s manager. The entire meeting was hilarious to listen to. His supervisor’s manager would say “someone needs to pick up the cigarette butts in the parking lot”. His supervisor looks at him and says “John, you need to do that.” This went on for 30 minutes. Each task that needed to be done, literally went from his bosses boss to his boss to him. When it was done, the other two left the office leaving John and me behind. As soon as the door shut, I burst out laughing. John chuckled and said, “I keep telling them to just skip the meeting and send me the list, but shit needs to formally run downhill to me, I guess.” He shrugged and said “And now i’m off to do the exciting job of picking up after the smokers! My day is complete.”
Soon after John became a regular employee, he got a call from someone close to his ex-wife. We soon discovered he had two kids – the boy and the girl, as he called them. He flew down to Southern California and took them away from their mom. She was having major issues with drugs and was neglecting them. Because of how how ex-wife was, he never was allowed to have much contact with them. They went from having a dad on paper to having a dad in the flesh. And, he went from living in a small apartment by himself to living in a small apartment with his kids – kids he barely knew.
While John would never openly brag about his kids, you always knew how proud he was of them. He was a runner, and after many incidents at school, he decided to instill some discipline into their lives by making them run with him. They loved it – and things improved. He would occasionally share stories about “The Boy and The Girl” – and would quietly ask some of us for advise. My coworker, knowing how financially strained he was, would grow extra veggies in her garden for him and his family. He was doing those kids so much good that we all wanted to cheer him on and help him.
Two years ago, he got extremely sick at work. His boss took him to the ER, and after doing some blood work, they transfered him immediately to the largest hospital in the area. He had leukemia. The prognosis was bad enough that they started treatment almost immediately. Within months after diagnosis, he was getting ready to have a bone marrow transplant. In about February of this year, word was he was getting ready to come back to work. The leukemia was not evident. He was excited to come back. We were all excited for him to come back.
Given the layoffs and such that were happening, we all started wondering if his position was affected. He wasn’t coming back and no one knew what was going on. What I now know is that leukemia came back. This time there were tumors. He was on a very aggressive radiation and chemo treatment plan. But, John, always the realist, acknowledged that his chances of beating it this time were almost nil – and chose to let nature take its course. That was a week ago. He passed on Tuesday.
As I’ve talked to current and former coworkers who knew him, we all agree. The world lost a kind hearted soul. His kids lost their dad; the guy they deserved more time with. I think that is what makes me saddest.