This is about Richard… Richard Reese. I don’t know why I’m thinking of him so strongly at the moment, but I am. This is to honor his memory, hopefully in a worthy way…
Richard was one of those people one has the good fortune to meet in life. He was kind, had an infectious good nature, was even tempered, and nothing seemed to irritate him to the point of losing his calm. As long as I knew him (not nearly long enough) he was unflappable, kind & funny.
I met Rich at the place we were both employed at the time (1989) he was one of the first friends I made at my then new job. We worked second shift (5pm to 1am) and every Thursday night our department had to produce the “officer’s calendar”.
The officer’s calendar was just that, a calendar detailing the planned whereabouts of the company’s officers for the coming 2 weeks & there were something like 50 officers. This was before DOS, before Windows, before PCs.
We’d get the info submitted to us from various sources, had to make sense of it and build the document in WangWP+ .
When I say build, I mean it. It was printed on 11×17 paper using what was called a "2 page print" (two 8×11 pages of information were used to build one printed 11×17 page… there was a ‘stop code’ at the bottom of … oh geeze1…). We had no WYSIWYG. We had to visualize how the pages would look once they printed lined up side-by-side.
Rich was our proofreader and proofing the calendar was no small task. Every Thursday night Rich would work a double shift, from 5pm to 8 or 9am Friday. And every Thursday afternoon without fail, he would stop off at a bakery on his way in to work and get couple of boxes of cookies for the team. Not just any cookies, but really good bakery cookies, “calendar cookies”.
I have many fond memories of Rich including dancing with him at holiday parties. At least once each party, our tradition was to dance the twist. I did so in my CFMPs — article one of why my knees are so bad now, but it was worth every moment.
The holiday’s were again approaching, I think it was in 1990 or ’91 (it all blends together). Anyway, Rich took my friend Brian and me aside one evening at the office explaining that he’d gotten us gifts. Brian and I didn’t really know what to say, because neither of us expected any gifts. Rich presented us each with a box, and we proceed to open them. Inside each box — a watch, they were identical.
You know how it is when someone gets you a gift that is sort of personal but so very outside your taste? You keep silently reminding yourself ‘it’s the thought that counts’. Brian and I looked at each other searching for support, for the right words, words of tact. A way to say thanks without showing “what *were* you thinking” faces. We were also wondering if we had totally, off the chart, misread Richard.
The watches were emblazoned with paintings of Jesus. Oh they were artistic, serious, and religious. Neither Brian nor I were religious people in any sense & I was/am not of the Christian faith. If Richard was religious at all he had kept that from us until this moment. We were confused, dumbfounded & near total social melt-down.
And then, Richard, the brilliant, says — totally deadpan — “I got them for you so you could look at them and say, ‘Jesus! What time is it?!’ or ‘Jesus! Will you look at the fucking time!'”
It was one of the funniest moments I can ever recall, we laughed so much, and for a good long while. It became a long running joke for us and our friends. :-)
It is something I still laugh about to this day, and thinking of it as I type this out brings back the smile to my face. And the story is still getting extremely good mileage. I love to tell it, I may even have repeated it to some folks (sorry) but it keeps Richard alive. I think it’s good for people to know him. I like to remember that I had the honor to share a small space in time with him.
Though he has long departed, I can still see his smile, his laughing eyes, still feel the warmth of his kindness to me. I do still have the watch too. :-)
1 – The fact that I remember, and could probably still repeat the process given the proper outmoded tools gives me no great pleasure. I wish I could do a memory dump of the useless info that seems to get maintained and make accessing more important things (like dates things happened) easier.