Instrumental People

I’m always so happy to find old pictures, especially of people who were instrumental in my life.  These were co-workers where I worked for nearly ten years before the company had financial difficulties, got sold, and everybody was gone.  Here we were moments before leaving to go to a Cubs game for the afternoon, a reward for a big project that was recently finished.

I’m at the far left – I didn’t fix myself up that day!  Two over from me is my boss, in the dark shirt and shorts.  He was ten years older than I was and so much wiser in the game of life.  His wife was a stay-at-home mother, I was not.  Even so, he was one of my biggest supporters when I had trouble balancing work and family, when I needed favors, and in helping me maintain equilibrium in my life.  I worked hard for him and he was fair in return.  I try to be the kind of boss he was – patient and kind, but providing feedback and correction when needed.  He mentored me daily and I do the same for my staff.

Three over from him is an older gentleman in a yellow shirt who also reported to my boss.  He was older than all of us, having actually passed retirement age a year or so earlier.  At one time he was a top dog in our field.  He had a problem with alcohol though, losing several jobs before going to work for a former employee of his.  His boss / former employee finally did an intervention and made him go to rehab.  This gentleman was vocal that it saved his life and he gave credit to his boss’s willingness to deliver a tough message (get help or get fired) and make it stick.

At the time I worked with him, he was twenty years older than my boss.  He was clear that he was not the boss.  He supported my boss anyway he could, he did any project asked of him, and he taught me that humility and respect were wonderful things no matter what your age or former position used to be.  He was a wonderful team player and example to those of us who were so much younger.

Two people in this picture taught me how I didn’t want to act in the workplace.  From one of these, I learned that no matter what I did, I was offensive merely by breathing the same air in the same room.  I finally had to toughen up and ignore it, being careful to not expose myself in a way that they could hurt me.  Another one taught me that no matter how much someone might smile and act nice, they would often backstab and could not be trusted.  I didn’t have to work with that one very often and generally documented each dealing we had to protect myself.

The rest of them were good friends.  We worked, laughed and cried together.  We pulled together at the end before the company went under and took care of each other as best we could.  They were a good crew and I am still in touch with some of them.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – PRECEDING.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.


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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Modeling & mentoring are rightly stressed as developing the future of young people but little is said of the power of ‘negative models’. I’m glad you mention them in your post. Just as you learned what not to be as a professional I gained confidence in myself & my potential from teachers who had major flaws. While 2 devoted young women who were good music teachers made a preteen wish she could grow up to be like them it was a couple of male teachers with major flaws (including alcohol problems which I was unaware of at the time) who made me believe that even if I could not match the talents of my female idols I could be better than some of the people in the field.

    • That’s a really good point that you make – I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. But yes, the negative models also taught me. I’m glad your teachers reminded you of that truth that while you might not match the talent of the very talented, you can still be much better than many in your field. That’s a good truth to hang onto in all areas of our life.


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