Today, I learned that one of my bartenders from my last operations job passed away. He was one of my closest friends at that job; my right-hand guy, my liaison between management and the staff. My inventory buddy. It’s very sad. He wasn’t even 40.
Sadder still was that I hadn’t seen him in a number of years, because, as so often happens, one moves on from one job to another and, even though you thought you’d never lose touch, you do.
Oh, you SAY you won’t, but it’s the very nature of our business that we get close to the trench mates who surround us now and we leave behind the ones we truly cared about when we worked together. Why do we do that? Are our relationships that superficial?
No, not superficial, but, apparently, conditional. Conditional on the fact that we work together and see each other every day. And when we don’t, out of sight, out of mind. We find a whole new set of people in the next job to immerse ourselves in. New people to watch the sunrise with after a slammin’ Friday night. To sweat in the trenches with when the AC goes out on a hot August night. To laugh and point at people with from the behind the bar. New people to head to the local after-work watering hole with.
Certainly, there are those whose friendship remains throughout the years and jobs. My best friend and a couple of ex-fiancés come to mind. But most of our co-workers will one day fall by the wayside and we won’t see or hear about them again until something like this happens. We get the call from yet another beloved ex- co-worker we haven’t seen in years with the sad news and the memories of lost friends come rushing back.
The very bad news is you have to go send your friend off way too early and far ahead of his time; the good news, if there is any, is that you get to see some of those people who wandered off and catch up on the last 5, 10, 20 years.
So, we gather, older and hopefully wiser, to say good-bye to someone we essentially said good-bye to years before, though we didn’t know it at the time and to say hello again to others, with the requisite promises of getting together ‘soon.’
But you know you never will. You want to. But you don’t.
This fact doesn’t make these friendships any less real...just real for a specific place in time. And, in this business, we are bound to have a lot of people come and go in our lives...again, the nature of the business.
But we should do whatever we can to let the people we care about know that we do, so we don’t end up telling their family on some sad day in a church filled with flowers how much we loved them and how they will be missed.
Kevin made my time in that bar more fun. Now he’ll be pulling brews and telling jokes to the angels at that Big Bar in the Sky. And I’ll tell his family that I’ll miss him. I should have told him.
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