I try, reasonably, to write humor – mostly about the kids, sometimes about food and travel and music and life. Sometimes I have a nice time lambasting politicians, mostly because it’s just so much fun, and it’s easy. But every once in a while, I decide that I’m not forcing you to read this (with a few exceptions), and there are things I feel like I need to put down on paper, even if more than 500 people happen to be reading over my electronic shoulder. So, every once in a while, yes, welcome to the crazy in my head.
I buried a friend and co-worker last week, and while I am not, as a rule, much given to introspection, I realized that I was actually pretty distressed about this and it occurred to me to wonder why. People die, every day, good or bad, old or young – it’s part of the natural order of things, and I know that. I mean I *really* know it, not just intellectually, and the fact that a good, young person lost a fight with cancer does not really go against my sense of fairness – I haven’t any – nor against my understanding of how the universe works. I knew him only for 6 months. Why am I as distressed as I seem to be?
I don’t spend a lot of time in my own head (it’s dark in there, for starters) but as I thought about it, I realized that I’m not distressed about my friend. He’s in a better place, and I don’t much believe in better places, but I know that *he* did, and for my money that’s what counts. I’ll miss him, yes. I liked him. But I’m distressed about his family.
Not about what they must be feeling; I get that. Suffering happens all over the world, and they had a chance to be with him through it and at the end; they had some time to prepare. This was very fast, but it was far from overnight.
He worked for me. I interviewed him, some 6 months ago now, and I hired him, and he worked for me. I believe there’s magic in that, an old alchemy. There’s a binding, when one person enters into a contract with another to do what that other person asks them to in exchange for something the first person needs. Maybe I spent too much time daydreaming when my best history teacher (Tom Richards, and if you’re reading this, go back to bed, you beautiful old man) taught us about the laws of Primogenitor and feudal society and noblesse oblige. As the eldest child, and male, of my generation in my family, this is probably no surprise.
As I grew older, I read a little less about castles and serfs and a little more about the Wild West – and guess what? If you read about the Code of the West and tilt your head to the side a little and squint, it reads at least a bit like some of the feudal concepts of noblesse oblige – the obligations of the nobility. The Code of the West made it inclusive, though – you were not born to nobility, you simply were nobility, by virtue of your gun and the Code. (I’m sure 99% of the Occupy people would have a field day with all this. You say asshole, I say 300 hundred years too late. No matter.)
With great power comes great responsibility, and thank you Stan Lee.
If a man worked for you, and died while in your employ, you should be responsible for looking after the welfare of his wife and children.
Some people have commented that I’ve done a good job of handling the proceedings and working with the family, who are having to deal with a large and sometimes bureaucratic corporation. I feel disingenuous accepting their compliments, because I feel I’m not doing anywhere near enough.
He worked for me and he died while in my employ. I should be making sure his wife and kids are OK financially. Never mind that our society has grown out of that kind of thing. Never mind that the family doesn’t expect it, wouldn’t expect it, would not understand if I offered and might even be offended. Never mind that my company doesn’t expect it. (Never mind that I couldn’t, even if it was expected.)
No one thinks like that anymore.
Except me. And so it bothers me.
Welcome to the crazy. And thanks for reading here with me.