What were the chances? Slim-to-none would have been my thought. I was in Waco for a work related venue yesterday and emailed a friend that I was in town. Twenty years ago I had the privilege of reporting to him as my supervisor. It was a work related relationship that lasted for a little over five years. In addition to having worked for the guy, he and I go back a long way. We knew each other when we both worked for the State of Texas. In addition we have been good friends across the past twenty plus years.
He is the kind of guy that is easy to like. He is personable, mostly easy-going, extremely competent and amazingly thoughtful and kind. I’ve never known anyone who worked under his supervision that didn’t value his friendship. Actually, that isn’t totally accurate. It is true for employees that were professional and competent. He led by example and he gave the task everything he had to offer. I suspect that he still does. He had those same expectations for folks that worked with him. Employees that couldn’t approach the standard he set didn’t fare well.
At any rate, I was hopeful he could stop by the venue where my meeting was taking place. Instead of expressing a willingness to do that, he emailed back asking if I was open to lunch?
In the course of the morning, I ran across another couple of friends with whom the two of us had previously worked. They were folks who made the job fun. I communicated back that I had made contact with them. The plan for lunch broadened or perhaps you could say doubled. Throw in one more for good measure, and you add a fifth to the group. He, too, previously worked with the four of us and had just taken an administrative position with an agency in Waco.
My friend in Waco recommended the Baylor Club for lunch. Honestly, Ninfa’s was just across the parking lot from my meeting, but I opted to yield to his recommendation without kicking and screaming. Maybe I’m actually beginning to grow up and realize that the culinary decisions made for a group are not exclusively mine to determine.
When he recommended the restaurant, I had no idea that the Baylor Club is located in McLane Stadium, home of the Baylor Bears. I’ve driven past the stadium many times over the past couple of years as I’ve made my way up and down IH-35. Each time I pass the stadium, I always take a second glance as I drive by because of its spectacular presence. Impressive! McLane Stadium and the Fixer Upper have done much to highlight that Waco is a happening place.
Yesterday the happening in Waco provided an opportunity for five men who previously worked together to once again cohesively regroup. It went by quickly, but for the space of an hour and a half we celebrated and recalled the teamwork we shared. I have been gone from the organization fifteen and a half years. My friend in Waco left before I did. The friend who just settled into a new job in Waco has been away for three or four years. Of the five of us, only two remain.
The setting was perfect. We were in a spectacular stadium. Somehow that seemed appropriately symbolic of the fact that we had each worked side-by-side as a team in attempting to make a difference for children and families from hard places.
We opted for outdoor dining with a full view of the interior of McLane Stadium. The weather couldn’t have been more comfortable and the setting provided a quiet ambience where distractions and outside noise was non-existent.
As we shared snippets’ or tidbits about our families and life circumstances, the friend who has just started to work in Waco shared a picture of one of his sons. He looked stunningly distinguished and professional. He didn’t resemble the skinny little kid that I remembered at all. I was amazed. Both of the guy’s sons are now attorneys. His daughter, who I really didn’t think could be over fourteen years of age has been teaching school for the past two years.
As we talked and laughed and reconnected, we shared lots of “do you remember when” stories. It was a feel good time for all of us. Of course, some of the information we shared wasn’t good news. Some shared stories of the death of their dads and other loved ones. We reminisced former colleagues in the agency. We talked about where they are, what their doing and for some, the special difficulties or challenges they now face due to health issues or circumstance.
The happening in Waco at noon yesterday was time well spent. I am grateful for the privilege of benefitting from the skillset, influence and sense of purpose and calling that those four friends have contributed to my life. The five years I shared with them in a work setting was full and enriching. The continued sense of friendship and camaraderie is a gift and I am grateful.
All My Best!