Monday, July 17, 2017

And now for something completely different

Last night (at the time I started writing this entry), as I was about to go to bed, I got a text message from a former coworker from a long time ago. In fact, we only met once in the roughly 20 years since he was mustered out of the bank where we both worked. But for the most part, this person has been out of contact, and relatively unresponsive to suggestions that we meet for a drink or otherwise get together.

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As you get to know someone over a period of years, you learn a lot about who a person really is. With this man, who I'll call BAB, I can say that he knew his craft very well and was upset at politics going on levels above him at the bank where we worked. He was a co-conspirator in "crime" with me, as we both worked on projects which upset the status quo, setting up the beginning for the electronification of the bank's exchange of check data with other banks. When I was told by my management NOT to solicit test data for a project I was assigned to, BAB made sure I got that data and made sure we were ready to work on a system that the CEO of the bank wanted implemented - but was not wanted by middle management.

BAB and I went to several business conferences relating to what became known as Electronic Check Presentment. The most notable of these conferences was held in Dallas, where I gave a presentation which was viewed by only one bank's representatives. However, that was not the highlight of this conference. Instead, it was our after hours hi-jinks, where BAB (and a couple of other people) stole another conference's props (some paper mache saguaro cacti, rope, and wagon wheels) and moved them to our conference's area. As you might guess, BAB enjoyed his drink, and he was always fun to be with.

We always seemed to be fighting the status quo in one way or another. And there were some managers that BAB railed against, simply because of perceived corruption in how these people acted. Eventually, BAB pissed off the wrong people, and was probably told to retire. (I'm not sure of the full story here.) And with one exception, we weren't in contact with each other.  So, I had to assume that his drinking got the better of him.

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The exception to BAB's communication blackout was his occasional email of humorous pictures or of jokes he found funny. And I knew that he held senior management of the bank we had worked for in total contempt. (I can't blame him, given that the CEO in charge when he left was a jerk, and didn't provide value to the company.) So I wasn't surprised when he messaged me to note another complaint about senior management. Yet, I knew this was different, as he never used Facebook Messenger to contact me.

So, a little after midnight, I responded to BAB, and we got into a chat. Although he had the chance to go back to work after 9/11/2001, he had been idle for 20 years. (How he paid his bills is a mystery to me, unless he was older than he looked and saved more than I thought.) But he mentioned that he wasn't drinking anymore - and I said it was a good thing, not making any social comment. Then the conversation shifted to why he wasn't drinking.

It seems like BAB's health took a sudden turn for the worse last year. A bacterium had ravaged his body, causing toes on one foot to be amputated, followed by toes on the other foot. (I wonder what his hands look like.) They had put him on a series of antibiotics, going from one drug to the next. Eventually, the cocktail of drugs worked, and they stopped the progression of the infection. During the past year, he was in and out of nursing homes because of the ravages caused by the infection. But BAB is now at home, and has problems with his balance and energy levels. So his family got him to move to a place which does not put him at risk from falls as he enters and leaves his house.

- - - - - -

In our chat, I mentioned to BAB that a coworker of ours had died 2 years ago. He was unaware of this. So I told him about the key details I had of this former coworker's last months on earth:
  1. Coworker F was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2012-2013, and was being treated for it while still on the payroll of the bank.
  2. He was laid off on the same day that I was, and our last official day in the employ of the bank was 5/31/2014.
  3. The bank supplied health insurance for 1 year after termination as a supplemental unemployment benefit.
  4. His supplemental benefits would run out on 5/31/2015, allowing him to collect a pension on 6/1/2015.
  5. We met during the year, and he told me that he planned to collect his pension as a lump sum payment.
  6. Coworker F died on 6/1/2015.  (I hope the ACH payment was made, so that his widow collected the pension's full value. There are issues with an ESOP account, where if the pension hadn't been filed for, that his widow would have collected a fraction of the funds owed him/his estate.)
I think BAB was a little stunned, as he was out of the loop with everyone. But I think he is finally coming out to the world, and I hope that things go well for him in the future.


  1. There are bacteria and viruses that can have devastating effects. Two years ago I had a bad case of shingles which still bothers me but a neighbor of mine just contracted a flesh eating bacteria. It was so virulent that within a week he had 4 surgeries and was put into a medical coma. When you age your systems are prone to break down. I wish success and health to BAB.

    1. Pat -

      Trust me, BAB is in very bad shape. I haven't seen him online in a long while since our most recent contact, and I feel he has gone back to his cocoon. When I last saw him in person (over 10 years ago), he was still enjoying his liquor, while I was abstaining because of a therapy group I was in. Now, I can drink, and he can not do so. I can walk far, but he has trouble going up steps. There is a part of me that doesn't want to see him, only because I want my memories to be of the man he was, and not what has happened to him. And yet, I will see him if he is available. He is a good guy, and I miss him as a fellow square peg in a round hole.