This is a special edition addressing the loss of a colleague at the day job. It’s been a surreal last couple of days, and not much else of note happened this week, so this is my 7QT.
At about 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, I was riding my bicycle along the Fox River Trail. I made it home safely at around 8 to watch the Blackhawks pull off the big win in Game 7. At about 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, my colleague Bobby Cann was on his bicycle as well. But he was hit by a car, and a little after 7 p.m., he was dead.
I came into work Thursday full of sunshine, happy about the Blackhawks win (though it cost me some sleep) and wearing a Blackhawks shirt. Not long after I got in, we got a cryptic email, which said we had a meeting at 10 a.m. And that was it. Whenever you get that sort of thing, it’s never good. I instant-messaged a colleague, smart-mouthing that it was probably some sort of bad news about the business. She sent me a link to the news story about my colleague. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. I didn’t know Bobby well. Occasionally traded instant messages and emails with him, and that was about it. But you read a story like that, and your blood goes cold. This was just short of 9 a.m., and the meeting was at 10. One hour to wait to confirm that this was our colleague who was dead.
Everyone trooped into the meeting room. I don’t know how many of us suspected something, but an audible gasp went up when the boss of our entire department announced what happened. The air was sucked out of the room. No one said anything as they left the room. All other meetings were canceled. Everyone was told that if they had trouble working today, it was OK. And a lot of people had trouble working, understandably. Everyone took extra time to talk to others. Everyone was nice to each other. I mean, we usually are anyway. But we were more so this day.
I got a beer for the train home. (You can do that in Chicago on the Metra.) And I flashed back, as I had all day, to when I had been injured falling off my bicycle. I was a very lucky man then, though I didn’t think that at the time. Bobby was 26. I’m 28. I was 24 when I had my bike accident. I would prefer not to die at this age, to be honest with you. But you still have to think about it. It’s a lot to think about. It’s hard to put it into words.
Friday was more of a normal day, at least for most of us. I did my usual morning prayers on the train, this time dedicated to the repose of Bobby’s soul. The initial shock was gone, and the feeling of numbness was starting to subside. People were talking and laughing in the office again, though admittedly not as much as before. I wandered over to the Merchandise Mart to have lunch with a friend. Her work had laid off a bunch of people on Thursday, so she and I commiserated about our experience.
The afternoon Friday brought news that the accident appeared to have been caused by a drunk driver, who was now charged with reckless homicide. My colleagues were furious. On Facebook, expletives and emotional angry words were flying. I was more sad. It meant a chain of failures, from the people who overserved the driver to (perhaps) the driver’s friends to (definitely) the driver himself had all failed, with ghastly awful consequences. And the other thing is that, quite frankly, drunk driving is pathetically easy. Step 1: Drink a little (or a lot) too much. Step 2: Drive. It’s a problem without easy solutions. But it was an entirely preventable death.
— 7 —
Please pray for Bobby, his friends, his family, and his coworkers. I give credit to work for handling this sad episode very well, and to my colleagues for pulling together.
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