Note: In Marilyn's Daily Whine and Shine for Friday, January 30, she commented about the company I work for never laying anyone off in their 50+ year history. I added a comment mentioning a couple other things that I consider positives about the company. One of those is how, in the interview process, they look for how well they feel the potential employee works with others, and cares about other people. The story below is NOT fiction; it actually happened, not quite two years ago. But it shows how well things work for a company, or a family, when you have the right people, or should I say people with a heart and the right attitude toward others. Keep in mind that this was originally posted, on another site, on August 12, 2007.
I'm sure we've all seen and heard the news items, sometimes local, sometimes national, about people who have attacked or killed others, often family members, or themselves. And certainly about one of the most drastic versions of that, the murder-suicide. And one of our first thoughts is something along the line of, "I'm glad no one I know would do anything like any of those", or "I'm really glad nothing like that happens around here". What we never remember or think about at those times is another well known statement: there's a first time for everything.
I said in my other blog that last Monday, August 6th, I went to the Catholic funeral for the sister of a coworker of mine, a member of my programming group, Dave. That standing on my feet for the hour and a half service really kicked off my Fibromyalgia as I left the church, and that it basically lasted the entire day and into the evening.
What I didn't say was that the reason for that funeral fit one of those big news stories we've all heard.
His sister and her husband had four children. Two daughters in their 20s, and two younger children, a boy and a girl. The parents were in the process of getting a divorce and had just recently agreed to share custody of the two younger children. The father had recently moved out of the house.
On a particular morning a short time ago, one of the older daughters arrived at the parents' home. About 10 or 15 minutes later, the father arrived to pick up the two younger kids as had been prearranged. But in that 10 to 15 minutes, the older daughter had entered the house, only to find the two younger children shot, one with an X marked on the chest. Shortly thereafter, she found the mother, the gun nearby. She had killed her two youngest children, then herself.
The following morning at work, we (my programming group) received an email from our manager, titled "Very Sad News". Below that title and above a copy of the local newspaper article about the incident, he typed a short message. It began with "This is Dave's sister..." and ended, after telling us that funeral arrangements would be passed along when they were available, with the statement that "Dave will not be in until further notice".
A few days later, in the email that gave us the funeral details for Dave's sister, our boss said that Dave would appreciate our support at the funeral.
The funerals for the two children were held on Saturday, August 4th, separate from the mother's, at the family's request.
Monday, the day of the mother's funeral, about 9:12 AM, I realized I hadn't seen the usual emails that morning between group members arranging car pooling for the drive to the funeral. And it started in just over 45 minutes, at 10:00 A.M.. My guess was they had made their arrangements verbally this time. I made a quick walk around the two rows of cubes that housed our group, and found no one there. Then, on my way back to my cube, one last member of the group walked past me. I caught her, and asked her if she was going to the funeral. She said yes, and said I could ride with her. We walked in just as the service began.
Following the service, we made it a point to stick around long enough to express our condolences to Dave. It was obvious that he appreciated our being there. And as we walked back to my coworker's SUV, remembering all those empty cubes at the office, I was thinking, "He got his wish. Everyone was there - all 12 of us." Knowing that made dealing with the breaking tone in Dave's voice moments before a bit easier to bear.
It was a couple more days before Dave was back at work. And I sure didn't blame him.
We'd never met each other before coming to work at this company. Yet their watchful approach to the interviewing process brought together a team of caring people. People that look beyond the job and have a genuine desire to help others. True, they may not be the only company that endeavors to do that, but in my career experience, covering 41 years, companies that make this effort are in the minority. And I'm proud to be working for one of them.