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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A loss is hard, particularly when you are hungry.

Today was a sad day, here at Life Explained.  We lost Bob, from Mergers and Acquisitions. It is a fairly new department, and we were all excited he had agreed to take the promotion. Having come up through the company as he had Bob seemed a natural fit.  But, maybe it was more than he could handle.

He started out in the mailroom, back when the mailroom was a closet, with mops and brooms, and a janitor's cart, Bob would put the mail on the janitor's cart and push it through the building delivering the mail. This was back when the "building" was a big room, with no windows, and two doors, one of which led to the janitor's closet, the other revealed a brick wall when opened.  Oddly enough, the Janitor's closet had three doors, one to the "building," one to the small lavatory, and one to the alley (the only real exit).  It could be a high traffic area, so we all got to know Bob well.

Since Bob was in charge of the mail room, which was also the janitor's closet he had to be the janitor as well. He never was too happy with that, so he chopped up some boxes, and taped them together and built a new "mail room" with cardboard walls, and a hand painted sign that read "MAIL ROOM." It was on the opposite wall of the janitor's closet. He thought that would get him off the hook, and for a while nobody noticed we had lost our custodian.

After a short time the trash started piling up, the dust was getting thick, and things were getting a little smelly. We made Bob start cleaning again. Bob had plenty of time, since most of us never got any mail, and nobody ever sent anything, anywhere.

Bob started hand writing letters to everyone in the company so he would be too busy to clean. Sometimes he would detail his weekend, including pictures. Often, he would write his commentary on the daily news, or a sports report customized to each person's favorite team. Occasionally, he would make things up, one year we had 4 different national champions in college basketball.  It really became a favorite with the whole staff. Who doesn't love to get mail?

It didn't take long before we were all writing to each other, and everybody we knew.  We had to hire a full time custodian, and expand the Mail Room to two employees.  It was not a particularly productive or profitable time for the organization, but we all grew a little closer and our Mothers were thrilled.

Eventually that kind of enterprise paid off and Bob was made a purchasing clerk.  Man, that guy could buy some stuff, he was an inspiration. His orders were art work, and we all loved to have Bob get our stuff. It always came with a little surprise. Something unique, and appropriate. For example, when accounting ordered new ribbons for the printing calculators right before Christmas, Bob, somehow made them print in Green and Red, and they were wound around candy canes. Bob could really surprise you.  People would wait a few extra weeks just so Bob could write the PO.

So, it was very sad news to find out we lost Bob. Someone said he went to the kitchen for coffee, and we haven't seen him since. How we will miss that old buy, he has been with us from the early, dusty, smelly days.  "A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone."*  Bob, wherever you are, you will be missed, if you are coming back, can you bring extra coffee, and some donuts? We are kind of hungry.

*Paul Valery