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One Tiny Drop

By James Bridges

I was at a breaking point on a couple of projects that were nearly finished. My director, at the time, had been going through a ton of personal issues. His loved one had recently passed. This had been someone that he loved dearly. Someone that passed entirely too soon.

Many around him could tell that this had affected him greatly. I would often have talks alone with him and became quite comfortable talking freely about our personal life. I knew that he was not in the right frame of mind. I could feel a sense of non-enthusiasm coming from him. I started noticing him working up a 12 hour day sweat like the old days in areas of the building that he may had once even managed. He was searching for something, as if he were searching for a purpose.

One day I overheard someone talk poorly of my director’s performance over the past couple of weeks. I was very curious as to why my colleagues would stoop so low as to start rumors. I shrugged it off. I respected the man they chose to speak poorly of. I knew of his long career and dedication to his people and his family. I could not show respect to anything that would shed a dark light on him.

A few days passed by and we received a visit from the “big wigs” in the company. Otherwise known as cost cutters. Corporate ninjas coming in to cut the fat. I noticed many of my colleagues collecting around the group of ninjas. They were offering them lunch. They were throwing out fun “after-hours” ideas for the group. You know….buddy, buddy…

Meanwhile my director sat in his office going over numbers. He was no longer considered a leader by some. I witnessed as some used him like a ladder to gain approval from the cost-cutters.

The “ninjas” wanted to have a round table discussion with the group. For some reason they felt it would be just fine to leave my director, the head honcho, out. I felt uneasy as I watched people that had worked in the industry, a fraction of the time that my director had, talk badly about his work ethic. My jaw simply would not shut. They acted as if the flow of the office was more important than humanity. It was like watching an angry mob throw rotten vegetables at the heroic knight after he fell.

I thought of all the time he had put into his career. In the past he told me stories of projects that he spearheaded. He spoke of tasks that I would have killed to be involved in. I respected this person as a human and a master of his craft.

As I witnessed the rumblings of a coo, I worried that what had been said would never be forgotten. I worried that the group could never really trust one another again. I worried so much about everyone else. I wondered if my director would ever catch wind of what was said in that room. I felt a deep sense of shame for the group and sadness for the man.

A few days later my director announced his retirement. Another chapter in the books for him. I can’t say whether or not that discussion had anything to do with the announcement. However, I do know that he could have never made a better decision.

I wonder sometimes how 5 minutes of rumors could make 35 years of dedication and experience turn into a tainted bucket of water.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

I realize now that that bucket was only tainted in the eye of the beholder. I look at this person’s path as somewhat of a discovered journey. One that makes no difference as to who is liked or disliked. One that has broken chains of being attached to opinions of a group of people that know nothing of his very own craft.

Now I see him from afar. I still admire his ability to remain authentic and pure to his craft. I read his words when there’s the chance. I still love (almost) every piece. I love to imagine myself to one day attain the position that he has. His position in life. His sense of self shows with his actions and hardly ever his words, unless they are written.

It’s kind of funny how something that seems so dirty can actually be some of the purest liquid of life, if it’s simply allowed to settle.

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