Every so often something hits you that will pause you in your tracks, enough to shake you, and hurt you. Especially when something is out of your control.
Back in 2008, in my office sat a mid 50's gentleman named Stan. No experience, pot belly, a bit of a red-flag on his resume. Not much to go on. What was present, was his dogged determination to land the open position as our pool service technician. I'll never forget Stan looking at me point-blank, telling me he'd outwork every one of our twenty-something employees and would make me proud.
Stan was hired. Stan held up to his end of the bargain... and then some. He may not have been the most knowledgeable. His pools may not have been altogether perfect all the time. But, I can tell you this. Stan ran our twenty-something employees under the table. His truck started at 4:30 most summer mornings. He arrived at the office on Saturday's to clean his truck. He made extra visits to our client's pools on the weekends. He cared about each client. In turn, our clients loved him. Stan didn't need to be managed every minute of the day because he took pride in his job. He embodied great work ethic.
October 2015, after about a total of 8 years with Love Pool Care, Stan was offered a position to go back to his previous career (inside office equipment sales). It was time, as our brutal summer and monsoon weather can understandably take a toll after a few years.
My last communication with Stan was the second week of October 2015. His W-2 was just returned to our office, with a hand-scribbled note on the envelope stating "deceased".
This couldn't be true! Everything just kind of stood still when that unopened envelope was delivered to me.
I emailed Stan asking if everything was OK. No response. I called his last known cell number, only to go unanswered. I searched obituaries, and scoured the Internet for any information. Nothing of significance.
My last grasp was leaving a voicemail at a number that was listed several pages in on Google. Fortunately, I received a call back later that night. It was his ex-wife, and she did confirm... Stan had passed away in late October 2015 from unexplained causes. Our conversation was pleasant, but brief. I really didn't know what to say or ask.
I have to say that this has affected me a great deal. I do not know if he had a funeral? I don't know about his family? Or friends? The finality of this has left me sad and confused. I wanted the opportunity to stand up and tell his family and/or friends how important this man was to me. And our company. I wanted to share stories. I wanted that opportunity! This man gave me all he had for 8 years! I don't care if he had his "ups and downs"... we all do! The silence or lack of communication to me prevented this from happening.
Stan was no longer that pot-bellied fella. The physical activity of his job kept him in shape. He played golf with his friends. He was quick witted, sarcastic, and funny. He rarely took a day off, even for vacations. Stan had integrity. And that's how I'll always remember him.
Thank you, Stan! We all love you here. You'll be remembered.