Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Memoriam. December 16. Last Year.

Solemnity and pause.  That's all there is. You can't overlook the 365th day of shock and numbness after a fatal workplace shooting, but there's no Martha Stewart index to reference, advising you on how you're supposed to take it in; how you're supposed to deal, respond or overcome.

We didn't officially observe the date; just noticed how we were all moving in slower motion and talking less.  Looking away rather than right at each other, and reminding ourselves out loud too many times what day it was.

There's been tension. There's been a marked thinness of spirit. There's been a first foray (mine) into imbibing in spirits. I never really connected that to this, but there you are. There's something to be said for drowning your sorrows.

This morning, I asked Mr. Man, my husband, if he'd think of five things to ponder about his lost friends, Henry and Scott. He stopped getting dressed, sat on the edge of the bed, and looked down for a long minute.

He knew Henry the most, so he recounted Henry's patience with people. He described a man who never complained, and if he was exasperated, would use humor to diffuse it. He described a man whom people respected so much they'd do whatever he asked. He collaborated so well with others as to produce great things for the company; created focus groups, friendships and committees that mattered.

And now he's gone.

You feel faint and wonder if it's OK that two good men fell, but I'm still here?

Survivor guilt.  It doesn't help that the company spent the better part of 2012 casting a looming threat of lay offs over the organization.  Now, more men and women have disappeared, but this time the death was to a paycheck and not to the body, though it may as well have been. Paychecks are a life blood. They breathe a steadiness to the soul and hope to the spirit in a way that maybe they shouldn't; but still... they do. ***

And when dear H was not laid off, there it was again. Survival Guilt.

I promised myself at the memorial service for Henry and Scott (and in an intangible way, André Turner) that I would tend to my words more in 2012. 

I didn't. 

But here's why it mattered so much that day, seated in a sunny courtyard in January, listening to Important People pontificate about nothing much that meant anything.  They didn't help a listener figure out The Lesson of the Day. They didn't offer words of any impact or significance. It's just a bureaucratic corporation, after all, sworn to such politically correct behaviour and thinking that, in the end, they can never mean anything because they're trying so hard to be everything.

Here's what I would've said on the occasion:

... If we can notice the little ways we harm others, the little ways we're careless with a thought or a look, a word or a deed, we'll realize that we're just as guilty as André Turner who picked up a weapon and used it for harm. 

When we decide that, in our work relationships, we're always right and a co-worker is our adversary, we're guilty of the same selfish spirit a shooter adopts. When a spirit of superiority rears its head, speaking ill of another person out of anger or pride, we're just as guilty as a shooter who sprays bullets to get even, 

even if our bullets are just words, inconsiderate rumors, or thoughtless, petty retaliations.

Watch your words. Watch your heart. Watch that you don't adopt the wrong idea that shooters are evil and we are not. We can be just as evil in our attitudes as a shooter can be in his actions.

Our words have the power to murder.  
And a simple evil look can kill...

*** To Edison's credit, their layoff terms are generous, including more than ample retrain/retool funds

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