I was desperately trying to rub two brain cells together to produce a spark of inspiration for a theme for my next post. I read KayJai’s blog about a death and a near-death of people she knew and how they had influenced her life. Then I checked my emails, and found I had received a couple from Tony, and I knew I had my blog subject.
Tony and I worked together for almost twenty years at the auto-parts plant. He was already employed there when I arrived. Almost twenty years older than him, I was 45 when I started, so he was in his late twenties. Like my own kids, who are near his age, I watched and helped him when I could, through some life stages. I watched his daughters go to school and grow up. I sympathised when he went through a divorce.
He put up a facade of hard-shell smart-ass, but inside, he was a nice guy. When I was a newbie at the plant, he and his other friend took me under their wings. Perhaps it was that I was intelligent, able to think, good with the English language, and full of opinions, just like them, and unlike many other co-workers. Maybe it was just that they were both friendly people, willing to offer a little support.
In a plant where storage lockers were at a premium, they approached me, to offer to share space in a locker they were already splitting. They provided conversation, support and advice on the line and invited me to sit with them at their table in the lunch room. Soon, we were playing Euchre together. The fourth person needed, changed over the years, but it was the three of us, till the second friend had increasing union business intrude on his time. Tony learned to play Solo, and moved to a different table. It’s crazy, I comprehend the principals of string theory, black holes, and quantum entanglement, but I just never got, Solo.
It’s not that Tony abandoned me. We still spoke often. We had beers after work. We traded books back and forth. Tony suffered from the same thing that Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter had, cluster headaches. Not migraines, but debilitating pain, sometimes for weeks on end. He went through two years of medical experimentation. Three, four, five different drugs at once, change the dosage, add a new one, take one away. Finally got it under control, and hurt his back. He had to take a medical leave just as the shit was hitting the lay-off fan, and I was let go.
When Tony got divorced, between job retraining and more alone time, he became very proficient with a computer and the internet. I haven’t seen him or spoken to him now, for almost five years. I sent him an email about a year ago. My memory fades, but he still remembers me. When I finish this draft, I really need to send him a catch-up email. There’s not a week goes by that he doesn’t send me something interesting, educational or amusing. I never know what it will be.
He forwarded a study that says margarine is not good for you because it’s only one molecule away from plastic. I don’t eat much marg, and plan to have myself cremated, so the flames will burn hot. He showed me how to put myself on the do-not-call telemarketing list long before it became common knowledge. Suggestions like always having the remote key-fob for your car out, and your finger on the alarm button, especially for females, if you have to get to your car in a parking area at night. If you are attacked, you should have a split second to make the car raise a ruckus, and cause the attacker to leave.
He has sent me pictures of strange vehicles, strange buildings and strange weddings. I’ve received pictures of sunsets and cuddly animals. Despite the cynical shell, he’s a real softy underneath. He supports the troops, if not our military involvements. He sends me *I like you. If you like me, send this back, but forward it to five other people*, emails. I get notices to hug my kids and remember to send my mother a birthday card. I’ve seen an open letter to immigrants who refuse to assimilate and insist the country should change to suit them. I’ve read the story of an Arizona sheriff who took the inmates of his small prison out to live in tents, wear pink jumpsuits and do roadwork. No TV, no A/C, no library, don’t like it, do your time and don’t come back. He says that BrainRants, and the rest of the boys in Afghanistan have it worse, kwicherbichin!
KayJai said that the occurrences near her have reminded her to keep breathing and enjoy each day and the people who are in it. This is what Tony has done for me for years, and continues to do. No matter how silly or educational the next email, it reminds me that there is someone out there who cares for me, and to whom I still have at least a tenuous connection. Tony has been, and still is, a formative part of my life. He reminds me to keep enjoying it. I should get off my lazy, forgetful ass and tell him how much I have appreciated it.
Gotta go now. I have a big, long, breezy, remember-when email to compose. Do you have someone you should send one to?