I attended a memorial service at work a couple weeks ago. The director of one of our departments passed away unexpectedly.
To honor his memory and help employees deal with all of it, a service was planned, and I decided to go.
I didn’t know him personally. I just knew him as the happy guy I’d wave to every time I saw him in our cafeteria.
I don’t think I ever saw him in a pissed-off mood.
At the memorial service, there wasn’t enough room in our auditorium to fit all the people who showed up.
Our auditorium is HUGE, so that goes to show you just how many people loved him.
In the hour that I spent there, I cried a lot.
Super-much like a baby.
Mostly because I was listening to his direct reports, who are all grown men, sob, as they shared stories about their boss.
Again, I didn’t know him personally, but from everything I heard about him that day, I wish I would have gotten to know him better.
They talked a lot about what a genuinely happy guy he was. How he didn’t let the little things get to him. He had a wife and kids, played sports often, and spent a lot of time with his friends. He had a passion for old rock music, and he was very much remembered for being a people person.
They also talked a lot about his management style. He was a director, so he certainly had the power to be a jerk and make everyone’s life miserable.
But he didn’t.
During the service, his employees shared stories about what a chill guy he was. Not pretentious at all. Totally laid-back.
He’d start off one-on-one meetings with his employees asking them about their families. He’d ask them about their lives.
And more than that…he asked because he genuinely cared.
I would have loved to have worked for him.
At the service, they handed out two rubber bands for employees to wear on their wrists. They said it’s something he used to do all the time. And when people asked why he did this, his employees told us…
They told us that he used to wear them in case someone needed one. He always liked to anticipate what others might need on any given day, and he tried his hardest to make those things available for them.
Pretty cool dude in my book.
So I left the memorial with a totally stuffy nose and eyeliner down my entire face, but I was also completely wrapped up in thoughts.
It struck me that this person was remembered in such a positive way because of his interactions with other people.
He was remembered as the nice guy who loved life.
I mean, he must have been smart. He wouldn’t have been running a whole department if he wasn’t. But that’s not what people talked about.
They didn’t talk about his education. No one mentioned how many degrees he had. No one cared what school he went to. They didn’t talk about his salary or what car he drove. No one mentioned his ability to save the company money by cutting costs. They didn’t mention the fancy suits he wore (not that I think he wore fancy suits) but still, no talk about his fashion sense.
Nope, none of that was mentioned.
People who knew him and loved him stood up at a podium and talked about how this really amazing guy that they just lost made them FEEL.
How he made them laugh.
How he made them feel loved.
How he made them feel appreciated.
And it hit me that that’s what people really remember us for.
And when we realize that…when we REALLY realize that, it changes how we interact with others entirely.
So be a nice human.
Be nice to other people.
Know that how you treat other people matters.
Or be ready to face the reality that when you die, there’s gunna be a really empty auditorium…no one’s coming to your funeral.
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