Friday, March 28, 2014

#374 Here's To You, Partner

We received shocking news at work – a co-worker passed away.  I didn’t know Steve that well (he worked in another group), but I did know him casually, and he was part of our “lunch tennis” group a few years back.  When the indoor tennis center was still around, we’d play tennis at lunch in the warmer months.  This went on for a few summers.  Steve played tennis in college and was very good.  At that time, I was not very good.  Ok, I was average, but nowhere near where I am now.  Not that I’m super awesome now, but I have, learned a lot about where I should be on the court when playing doubles.  And I’m way better at the net.  Back then?  I was somewhat clueless and tried to stay out of my partner’s way. 

Luckily for me, Steve was usually my partner.  He was a great one.  Even though he was way better than me, he always made me feel like we were equals and was very encouraging.  During matches he would tell me, in his slight Canadian accent, “Hang in there partner.  We’ll get ‘em next time, partner.  Nice job, partner.”  I liked being his partner. 

A few years ago the tennis center was torn down and the outside courts were gone.  Lunch tennis was over.  Then I started taking lessons and was actually pretty decent.  Too late!  When I saw Steve around the office we’d talk tennis.  Did you see that match?  Have you been playing lately?  I told him about my progress and that I wished he could’ve benefited from it.  I saw him maybe once a month, but we always had a friendly chat. 

I spotted him the other day while walking up the stairs.  He was walking the other way down the hall and didn’t see me, and I didn’t call out to him.  I wish I had.  I don’t know what happened to him.  I don’t know if he was ill or had an accident.  I do know that he will be missed.   

I know a lot of nice people.  Occasionally someone sticks out as being really nice and Steve is one of those people.  The first thing I tell people is that he is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.  Incredibly, genuinely nice.  The world needs more people like Steve.  I will miss you, partner. 

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