Remembering Terry

Remembering Terry

There are few things in life more comforting than certainty. There is no event more requiring of comfort than death.

Losing a loved one is never easy. Whether their passing was sudden or at the end of a long and arduous battle with illness and declining health, we are never really ready to say goodbye. And it’s with heartfelt sadness that we say goodbye to Uncle Terry. More than just a patriarch for the family. More than just a farmer in the fields of Alabama. More than just a career lineman for the phone company. Coleman Terry Walker was, first and foremost, a man after God’s heart.

Terry was a father figure to me. I met him two years after my dad passed away in 2004, and I soon came to realize he was the stately male influence I needed in my adult life. Through his anecdotal charm and spiritually influenced example, Terry was the compass that helped direct me in my late thirties and through my forties towards a true North. The man I knew was the embodiment of compassion and kindness, ever listening to what you had to say, but forever steadfast in his principles and love of Scripture.

Strong but not overbearing, supportive but not one to coddle, Terry’s demeanor was an even keel in the turbulence of life. Even in the midst of the most unspeakable of tragedies, Terry anchored a family’s grief because he himself was anchored in the Word of God.

In this time of sadness, we all take comfort in the certainty that Terry is in the presence of our Lord and Savior. There is no doubt. We are all filled with the assurance he is face to face with the creator of the universe, Terry’s “aw-shucks” grin bigger than it’s ever been. This certainty is a comfort that ever so briefly expels our pain and our sorrow, and it’s a comfort to which we cling with every ounce of our being as we struggle to say goodbye to such an indelible man.

The cliché is true: God really did break the mold when He made Terry.

And as we struggle to hold back the tears, we smile at the idea of a grandfather, a man taken in the twilight of a life well-lived, reunited with his granddaughter who was called home in the early dawn of hers. May the joy of their reunion overcome the sadness in our own hearts.

A Memo to Be Human

A Memo to Be Human

I was not a fan of the Senior Manager to whom I reported while at Verizon, and it’s not simply because he chose to lay me off. Rather, it’s because I never felt he came across as a genuine person. From the moment he took over our group (January 2017), he was never genuinely interested in me or my team or what it is that we did. Instead, my readout of his style and approach is that of a glory-seeker looking to do what he can for the next advancement up the corporate ladder.

Unfortunately, when you work in I.T. you see this a lot, and this personality trait is not unique to members of management from this continent. That being said, what really irritates me is the new information I received regarding a conversation this Senior Manager and I had back in September.

I need to preface by saying I was notified (by my immediate Manager at the time) of my layoff in mid-November, and my last day on the Verizon payroll was the end of December. Still, it was back in September that I last spoke to my Senior Manager, and from what I just learned, the conversation was most likely not by choice.

His phone call came as I, and many of my peers in the Tampa Bay area, was preparing for Hurricane Irma. Amidst the chaos of buying water, boarding windows, and making contingency plans, my Senior Manager called to “see how I was doing.” From the get-go I could tell there was nothing sincere in his voice. He asked simple yet mundane questions about the preparations, and I remember thinking what a waste of time the conversation was given he and I didn’t have any kind of relationship outside of work. Not once in the short time I reported to him did he ever make the time to talk to me about me, or ask me about my family, or pick my brain about work stuff. Rather, he came in, threw his weight around, and called me only when he needed something done for him. For him to suddenly be concerned with my well-being felt like a farce.

Turns out it was.

It turns out managers within Verizon received a memo instructing them to reach out to their employees impacted by the impending storm. Basically, Verizon sent out a memo telling its managers to act like human beings.

This is just one of the reasons I am so happy I was impacted by last year’s reduction-in-force (RIF) at Verizon. The company at which I started twenty years ago has morphed into a myopic behemoth that cares almost exclusively about the bottom line and very little about its employees. The fact people need to be instructed to act with decency and genuine humanity means I got out at just the right time.

207/365 Just Rewards

So I got this email from my employer. It read something like this (I’m para-phrasing):

“Just wanted to let you know we did away this year with the employee reward program (because we’re money-grubbing *bleep*holes beholden only to Wall Street). But since you’re a trooper and have stuck around this long, we want to give you an old-fashioned pat on the back for a job well done. People like you – you know … gluttons for punishment – are hard to find, and in our own evil, sadistic way, we want to pretend like we care and have you hang around for five or even ten more years. After all, what do we care? We froze your pension in 2006. So here’s a catalog of worthless crap you can choose from. We really don’t care considering it’s all paid for by those merit increases you don’t get every year. So, have fun and keep doing whatever it is you do for us.”

Of course, I may have read the letter incorrectly. On the plus side; free blender.