This past weekend, I reunited with a group of coworkers to celebrate the retirement of one of the most humble men I’ve ever met. The job had a small salary, but a huge benefit: Fly all over the world for little or nothing. The schedules were demanding, and the rules were strict, but the people — I could cry every time I think about them. Varying ages, ethnicities, first languages, and cuisines, these folks took loyalty and friendship to a whole new meaning. I can’t count the number of times money was collected to send flowers to a grieving coworker. It was never a big deal to spend half of the money they earned that day to buy BS fundraising items from a colleague’s child. It’s a type of PDA that I didn’t know existed in a workplace.
The reality is that my small circle of ‘friends’ nearly disappeared when I got injured. Some didn’t visit because they “couldn’t see [me] like that” while others just didn’t make it a priority. What a blessing that turned out to be — because I knew exactly where I stood.
I wasn’t surprised that some of my childhood friends came from near and far. It didn’t shock me that my BFAM brought the family for a vist when I got home. And my airline family did more for me than my biological at times. But there was one person that did shock me — a young lady that I’d known for less than six months.
We used to eat lunch or go to a happy hour together every so often. Occasionally, we had direct, detailed conversations about all things politically incorrect like differences in hair, racial epithets, or cultural views on dating. We didn’t talk on the phone or hang out every weekend, but our love of travel, theater, and dance proved to be similarities that kept the friendship afloat. So, when I get injured, she was not at the top of my list of loyal friends. But, she never forgot me. Over the course of eight years, she never forgot me. Not when she vacationed in Thailand nor when she scored her grandfather’s season tickets to the Redskins. She was there when my family of two became three and invited me to witness the beginning of her family under the Chuppah. Never judge a book by its cover!
These people helped me get through one of the most difficult times in my life. In the beginning, it hurt like hell that so many people tossed me aside, but it fortified my resolve and made me truly appreciate the true friends that much more! Can you look in the mirror, and with integrity, grade yourself on your value as a friend?