I am heartbroken. I received the news an hour ago that a friend of mine committed suicide this evening. I am angry, sad, frustrated and exhausted all at once. Let me back up and tell this amazing man’s story.
He was one of the most physically beautiful men I have ever known. He worked out like a body builder, played sports semi-professionally and ate a healthy diet. We worked for the same company and I met him through my job. My first position with this Cannibalistic Company was a terror. This man would help me get things done that I couldn’t have gotten done without him. He would show up and help. I didn’t have to ask or explain; I turned around at the grill where I was doing a huge cookout at a local park, and literally ran into him cooking my burgers for me. He had stopped his job, drove 15 miles to stand in the blazing heat to help me. That was his heart: beautiful, giving, open and kind. His smile could stop traffic. I know for sure it stopped my breath. There was an ongoing joke that the only reason I came to meetings was to look at him. Guilty as charged! This man had the same position I had, basically. It was what I call a cardiac killer: 24/7 Crisis-oriented, underpaid, no support, no glory, just WORK. I transferred out, demoted myself 3 levels and managed to retain my salary (crappy as it is) because of the low-down dirty schemes I was able to document to HR.
About a month after I left, I got a call saying they had found him on the floor of his bedroom suffering from a stroke. He was in the ICU for months, but finally came home. He could barely walk and used a cane to get around. Eventually, he returned to work, but was thin and quiet and changed from Goliath on the outside to a man who looked sad and frail. But, wounded Goliath would smile, or say something funny and all I saw was the giant who stood before me. In fact, he was stronger because he had beaten the odds. A killer stroke had been survived and he was alive. However I saw him didn’t matter because he was shutting down inside. I found it hard to get him to interact and he seemed to want to be left alone.
I changed positions again and moved to another location. I found out about 3 months later that the management (READ: ASSHOLES) had HR send a lady to follow him around because he wasn’t able to travel due to his impairment with walking. I can’t imagine the humiliation that this man felt at being watched all day to prove he could not do his job. And lets be honest, that is what it was: a Modern Day Witch Hunt for a “Crippled” Man. Nevermind that this beastly company piled so much stress on him it caused a stroke. Disregard the fact that for years he was their “go-to” guy who always saved the day. I received a whispered phone call from a manager the day they finally ran him out. The manager said, “Well, it’s done. We had to force him to leave. We told him he could be fired or he could go. It sucked but the company needed someone who could do the job.” This is a big company, surely there was a paper-pushing position for him somewhere. (God knows I have a lot of paperwork.) I was angry and said so.
About a month later, I was at lunch with a friend who told me he had been found sitting in the Houston airport (Hours away by several connecting flights) with his cane. Unable to walk another step to board a plane or go back home at all. I asked if he would talk to anyone and she told me no, that he was avoiding all contact. I couldn’t help wondering if he had something to do, some job, would he have been okay?
Tonight I received the call that he had killed himself. I don’t know the details and I am not sure I can handle them right now. I am sick. This company sucks the life out of you, literally. How can a company turn a blind eye to the overworking of it’s employees? I nearly came to blows with people today over their attitudes. I have overheard upper management laughing at the fact that I passed out from a panic attack and my co-worker across the hall had a stroke on the same day. My boss’s boss was teasing her saying how she’s so tough she makes people have strokes and pass out. I am remembering that tonight. The school-bully cruelty that is prevalent in this company is disgusting. Now what if I told you that this company is in a field that repairs people’s lives. The very basis of the company involves “do no harm”. The irony is not lost on this girl. But this Girl has lost the point of it all. How does it benefit a company to fill it’s employees with disdain and burn them out? I don’t have the answers, but I do have some new questions.
Rest in peace, my beautiful friend. I know you are in Heaven, big and strong and flashing that Goliath smile.