A Simple Measure of Respect  

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Earlier this week a man I worked with for about 13 years passed away. Gary was a machine operator and worked in Shipping/Receiving for many years. He was an old hippy and a true fan of music and the Raiders. He liked it all from 60's era music to opera. I surely didn't agree with his viewpoints on most things, but that didn't matter we enjoyed our arguments and never a bitter word was spoken from that man.

In 31 years he had perfect attendance for I believe 28 years. That's simply amazing to me...He didn't call in sick he didn't come to work late, he didn't leave early. He was there and did his job day in and day out for 31 years with no complaints and a ready comment for you when you passed by. To say that he was congenial is an understatement. Gary didn't have many close friends, but he had a ton of acquaintances. He was forever chatting with someone and you just felt comfortable talking to him.

I wasn't especially close to Gary, but as I said we used to chat, and argue and I enjoyed working with him. I haven't worked for that company for a little over a year now, but I found out about his tragic passing and made sure that I went to his memorial today. There were a couple dozen workers there to pay their last respects to this man. He had many friends and family there as well and it was a nice service that did justice to his memory. It was ended with a nice song that was written and sung by another former co-worker. I felt better as I left realizing that Gary did indeed get to do so many things that he enjoyed throughout his life.

The one really sour point of the day for me was when I realized that neither the Manager of the plant, nor the superintendant, nor even the Human Resources Manager showed up to pay their respects to this man who put his whole life into the company that they represent. I started thinking about that as I left. 31 years is a long time to do anything. They couldn't show this man the most simple measure of respect by being there to tell his father how sorry they were for the loss, and what a great person Gary was.

It impressed me that there were a number of us that don't work at the company any longer that did show up. I hope Gary realizes that not everybody is only concerned with the bottom line.



We will miss you Gary...God Bless you...You were a good man, a tireless worker, and it was my honor to have known you....

This entry was posted at Sunday, April 18, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

8 comments

Bendigo, this post makes me sad, so sad...because it is so true. My husband has said the exact same thing about fellow employees who have passed on after working for the company their entire lives. Not a single boss shows up..nada!

25 years ago or so when I was working as a secretary in a rather large office in St. Louis, my father passed away. At that time, my manager, my manager's manager, head of the department, head of the next department, over 15 some co-workers -- all showed up at the funeral home to pay their respects.

Heck, when I got married, the entire executive row showed up for the wedding. Now, executive row wouldn't even know the names of the secretaries! Again, this was a place which employed appr. 200 people.

I know that now it would be different. Yes, it's that bottom line and it's also the lack of human connection that employers have with their employees. We have, indeed, turned into simple numbers.

April 18, 2010 at 3:51 AM

It's sad to hear that the employers have such poor regard for the people who keep them in a job, but the fact that you and others who no-longer worked with him attended his memorial service is inspiring. It would probably mean much more to him that you were there because you wanted to be than the bosses turning up because they felt they had to.

At least you know that you can take comfort in the fact that he was a good person and so are you.

April 18, 2010 at 5:02 AM

You have written a wonderful tribute to Gary. It's a shame that no one from management bothered to show up at his memorial. The 'everyday Joe' too often gets overlooked. The company needs to realize that without the little guy in a company the wheels wouldn't turn and nothing would get done. They are lucky that Gary was such a dedicated worker. It will be hard to replace his work ethic.

April 18, 2010 at 6:38 AM

Great tribute and story.
In my humble opinion, one of the main things wrong in the workplace today is the "lack of value" being placed on individuals by management. I know it is now true in my company. Hasn't always been that way, but it is now!

I feel a blog post coming on...LOL

April 18, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Very well written and a nice tribute to Gary. I don't understand why The Man doesn't appreciate the people that make their company run. Very sad. But obviously they are missing out on someone as a person and their lives are that much more shallow.

April 18, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Wonderful post, Ben.
Know that the people who matter most know what you do and what is in your heart.

April 18, 2010 at 4:54 PM

I'm sorry Bendigo.... 31 years is a long time.... You'd think some of them would have come....

April 21, 2010 at 2:12 AM

A really moving tribute to what must have been a remarkable man. The real measure is not the "bosses" that show up, but the folks that worked with him, and thought enough to be there, offering support to his family.

April 25, 2010 at 4:55 PM

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