It shot up at a 90 degree angle. After 3 or 4 inches, it banked hard and raced back—paying little mind to the bald crater it could no longer mask. This Brylcreem-dependent pompadour was a curious thing; it served as my introduction to an equally curious man.
Gene and I never really “clicked.” I was young, somewhat abrasive, and my humor favored the absurd. This left Gene ill at ease. For the next five years, he’d find amusement in teasing me about how he loved steak (I didn’t eat meat, then). I, on the other hand, took enormous pleasure in offering him a hug. This left him flustered and sometimes angry.
One day, Matt (our IT guy) called me into his office. He wanted to show some VNC software he had been testing—something rather novel, at the time. It would allow him to log in to company machines remotely, when issues arose. At some point in our talk, we found ourselves connecting to Gene’s computer.
(This seemed like a delightful opportunity.)
We first opened a folder and closed it. No reaction. We then pushed things further, randomly resizing images he was scanning, and forcing them to open/close without him prompting such actions. After a while, Gene piped up, “Uhh… Matt… I think my machine has gremlins or something. Can you take a look?”
As the newspaper’s tech, it was Matt’s job to make these things run smoothly, so, he made his way to Gene’s machine. Upon his arrival, it (surprisingly) resumed normal behavior. I tried—not so successfully—to mask my laughter, as Matt stood patiently beside Gene, waiting for the computer to show another sign of this strange bug.
Finally, my fellow prankster made his way back to his office. We sat quietly for a while, in an effort to maintain the jig, and then resumed our shenanigans.
For the next hour, the game continued, with Gene little the wiser. To his credit, computers were somewhat foreign to him, which likely made the notion of a remote session almost inconceivable. Still, I thought we were throwing him a bone, when we opened a plain text document and started to type (and repeat) the words, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Alas, no.
Finally, we fessed up to our prank. Gene was confused by the whole matter and returned to his station. Most everyone else found it quite funny.
My role with this company was so tedious that I rarely gave times like this much thought. I wanted to move on, do more exciting things, and take on a position that challenged me more. This left me treating my time there like a layover, instead of seeing it as a significant part of my life.
Last week, Matt was caught in a freak accident. His car collided with a semi, killing him, his wife, sister, and his two teenaged children.
Your life is not a dress rehearsal. The moments you have are exactly what they are. You cannot script, edit, or revisit them. The only chance you have of living a full life is to appreciate experiences for what they are.
Sometimes, this means enjoying a good joke with a friend.