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death sneaks up on you: wait, what? - The Literary Exhibitionist
death sneaks up on you: wait, what?

-- चार हजार और अस्सी-एक --

Well, I haven't been this stunned since finding out former CEO Tracy W died when I went to lunch with Elin in December 2015. And I got similar news today. All of us in the Merchandising department did, all at once.

I've rarely written much about Gary, the former VP of IT. I never had much occasion to, until now. But he was a great guy. He can be seen it mid-distance, dead center in the selfie above, which I took during our first mandated fire drill at our new office location, last September. It's the only photo I really have of him, I just figured out, scouring through tons of PCC Thanksgiving Feast photos showing lots of people eating -- somehow he escaped being featured in any of them. But there he is, in that shot from last September. A pretty recent picture. He looks happy.

He left PCC a couple of months ago, apparently to take care of his dad. But I guess he had a heart attack himself, and he passed away four days ago.

I was over talking to Chris J about some technical issues regarding certain changes needed to be made in our system on a line of items, and suddenly Darrell, our VP of Merchandising, gathered everyone up in our department and asked us all to gather in "The Library" -- the informal, initial name of what is now called "King" (a variation of asparagus, as these two meeting rooms are right next to the wall with the huge asparagus mural photo). Having no idea what was about to happen, we all gathered in there, all but two or three of us able to grab one of the 10 chairs around the long table, and Darrell broke the news.

Leon, the Deli Prepared Foods Merchandiser, arrived at work in the middle of this meeting. Terry motioned through the window for him to come in, and he opened the door, saying, "What's going on?" And Darrell had to repeat the news.

We also learned of two other people currently out with huge medical issues, although Kevin is working his way toward returning after some huge surgery having to do with diabetes (and, apparently, the crutches he was on for a few weeks before he took leave). Scott brought up what great benefits we have: he gave some huge figure as to the value of the medical care Kevin has had -- I want to say it was over $160,000; maybe it was $60,000, but either way, apparently all he's paid out of pocket is $11.

Justine, the Center Store Director (occupying recently-added middle management that exists between Darrell and Scott, who is my boss), talked about how we should all take the time to process however we need. Jeff, the Beer and Wine Merchandiser, even said, "It reminds you to take care of yourself, and also live each day like it's your last." Kevin B (a different Kevin), Associate Produce Merchandiser, quipped, "Which should it be? You can't do both!" In any case, it was a pretty somber couple of minutes with a few moments of levity. I guess another person, I think one of our maintenance guys, is out with bone marrow cancer and is waiting to find a donor.

When we all broke and went back to our desks, I immediately texted Shauna the "sad, sad news" as I started it. I told her I was certain she would want to know. She replied, Oh my god. So very sad. thank you for telling me. sobbing so sad

The last thing I had said in my text was, Literally the last time he spoke to me was when I told him you said hi. I could even find the text I sent back to her about it, from last November 23: Gary says hi back! His face totally lit up when I told him you said hi. Shauna had been really happy to hear it.

I then IMed Kibby about how that was a little surreal and a bit of a shock. She mentioned that Jennifer would probably like to know the news, if I had any contact info for her, and I do -- she long ago asked me to put her personal gmail address on the recipient list of the photo digest emails I send out after trips and photogenic events. So, I sent her the news, including a copy of the above photo from last September. I love how happy he looks in that picture. And then I added:

And I will always remember him as the guy who went across the street to buy the sledgehammer so I could smash the Zebra Printer, in 2006:



It’s too bad he’s not in any of the photos I took that day. But, that sledgehammer came from him. He was going to bring his own from home and forgot, so he just went over to Hardwick’s and bought a new one.

That was December 13, 2006, by the way, and thus one of the few occasions that I did write about Gary. I still have a cutout of myself threatening the Zebra printer on my desk; it's against the little wall to my left as I write this, above the front door flap that I have since kept as a trophy after destroying that god forsaken machine.

-- चार हजार और अस्सी-एक --

So, I've been left with some unusually direct things about death to process today -- namely, that it often happens when least expected. It's a little jarring.

After I sent that email to Jennifer, I also forwarded it to Elin, figuring she would like to know as well. I have not heard back from either of them yet, but I likely will.

I keep thinking of the story earlier this week of the Oregon man who "died peacefully" after being told the lie that President Fuckwit had been impeached. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, why was that news, so widely reported? On the other hand, I kind of envy that man. And I have often thought of that, when contemplating ways of dying that seem to have their chances increased with this fucking president at the helm (like, say, nuclear war with North Korea): there's also the chance that I could die for some other completely unrelated reason before things even get to that. Which is the likelier, anyway? My guess is probabilities are still higher that I will die in a car accident -- or even getting hit by a bus -- than by getting nuked.

I do like the idea of not knowing about it beforehand, though. I don't want to spend my last days fearing death, which is what I would do if I knew death were coming. As the deaths of both Tracy and Gary prove, it often comes to people we know without us having any idea it was coming to them.

Tracy is in the photo below, by the way. I had no other photos directly related to Gary, so when I was looking through old PCC Thanksgiving Feast photos, I decided to use that one for this entry. He's in mid-distance, mid-center right, in the shirt that looks like a starry night sky. That photo was taken in 2005. Ten years later he was dead.

No one else in the photo is yet dead, I don't believe, but a whole bunch of them are no longer with PCC: Stephanie, my boss before Scott, in the purple shirt; Russ, her former boss, in the middle of seating himself at her same table to Stephanie's right; Rita, sitting next to Tracy (who I saw for the first time in something like five years at Mimi's 70th birthday party last October); all three of the women at the table behind them, who used to be in IT; the woman with her back to the camera in the foreground whose name I forget. Rachel, sitting across from the aforementioned woman, still works here right now but is quitting at the end of the month. In fact I see only one or two people in that photo who are still here.

-- चार हजार और अस्सी-एक --

So was there something else I could tell you about the last 24 hours? Not really. Same shit, different day. I mean, until this morning. I walked home from work and Shobhit had made all six (or maybe eight?) packets of an Asian noodle frozen dish we got the last time we were at Costco, and he added stuff: vegetables and fried tofu. It was very tasty and vast in volume. I packed four lunches and only have a need for two of them. Work is providing us lunch on Friday for our next Town Hall, much sooner than usual after the last, perhaps due to the Burien store being announced.

I watched the Garfunkel & Oates special on Netflix -- which, as it happens, was taped at Seattle's Neptune Theatre. We did the day's crossword puzzle. We talked on FaceTime with Danielle and made plans for dinner on Friday, thereby making that the official first day of my Birth Week. I already have drinks planned with Mimi on Thursday which I was sort of thinking of as a Birth Week prologue, which will stretch this year's Birth Week potentially to eleven days.

Okay I guess a few things were not the same shit.

-- चार हजार और अस्सी-एक --


1 transmission complete or positive energy please
jwg From: jwg Date: April 19th, 2017 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's why office supplies should always contain a sledge hammer.
1 transmission complete or positive energy please