I ran into a guy a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t seen in 25 years. Rob and I worked for the same company for a short period of time. He was hired two years after I was and I couldn’t stand him from the start.
He had left his family’s business to come work for our company. It was, as he was quick to tell anyone that would listen, his dream job. Every day from Monday morning at 8 am to Friday at 5 pm Rob was just “happy to be here”. He was a perky, chatty, cheerful, merry, jolly, praise the Lord, God is good kind of man. He was neat as a pin, always in a suit, shirts freshly pressed, perfectly combed hair, and inflexible to a fault. He had a path and a direction and he would not, could not veer from it. His wife was gorgeous, the all-American girl, his high school sweetheart. He had one son and one daughter, good-looking, clean-cut kids. The one glaring chink in this God-fearing man’s armor, he was an absolute homophobe and happy to preach the gospel of why all “Faggots” were going to hell if you cared to listen. I didn’t.
I left the company a couple of years later and changed industries. My leaving was a good move for Rob. He picked up the majority of my accounts and moved up in seniority. I didn’t see him again for twenty-five years until we passed each other at a bend in the road one afternoon.
I recognized him right away. Still dapper, neatly dressed and even though he is a couple of years older than I am he had more and darker hair than I do. He still worked for the same company, having just celebrated his thirtieth anniversary but sadly that is the only thing that hadn’t changed for him. He and his gorgeous high school sweetheart had been divorced for about fifteen years. She and the kids moved back to the town she and Rob grew up in to be closer to her family. She was now remarried to a guy they both knew in high school. His kids were adults, one was married and he didn’t see much of them of anymore. Their step-father was very successful and had a lot of toys, toys that included a lake house that was more fun to hangout at than Rob’s apartment.
I wasn’t sure why he felt so compelled to share all this information with me from a simple “how are you doing?”. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about this guy in twenty-five years. But it was a very interesting encounter for me. Later I remembered why I didn’t like him a long, long time ago, he didn’t seem human or real to me. I remember thinking then that no one could be that happy all the time, no one’s life could be that perfect and certainly no one’s hair could always look that good.
When I knew Rob he worked hard to control everything around him, including that hair. Given all the changes that had occurred in his life my guess is that he has discovered that happiness does not come with control but in living and accepting what life throws at you. Then again, maybe he hasn’t. All roads bend, the question is will we bend with them.
“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking