Friday, March 06, 2015

Goodbye, Handsome Dave

     My former co-worker, the man who was in many ways the model for the character "Handsome Dave" in my I Work On A Starship stories, passed away unexpectedly two days ago.  He was 54.  He had quit his job last April; he'd been doing plenty of outside work, where his remarkably wide array of skills and knowledge, along with his careful attention to getting things right, had earned him well-deserved respect.  At our mutual employer's, I always thought he was taken too much for granted; he was assigned to a lousy swing shift instead of it being shared across four techs.  (After he left, that same shift was split between three of us; it's still lousy and is certainly an inducement to find other work.)

     Always low-key, he resigned without fanfare (not even a going-away party -- after thirty years on the job!) and was said to be doing well, much relieved to be his own boss.  I kept meaning to call him, just to say hi, but figured he was busy.

     Dave valued skill and he was an exceptionally good listener; he was able to draw people out. The entire world was his school and he was an avid pupil.  He shared his knowledge, too; everyone in my department benefited from what Dave learned and then showed us.  He was the primary technician for our RADAR site, a somewhat cobbled-together collection of technologies that was abandoned by the contractor who performed the more recent upgrade nearly a decade ago.  Dave was among the small group of us that rolled back the messy, undocumented, hide-your-work-under-a-sheet tradition that had dominated the Engineering department.

     More than that, he was a friend.  Several years ago, during a run out to a machine shop in a mostly-Hispanic neighborhood, I pointed out the many nice little Mexican bakeries along the way; there'd been one in the small town where I grew up and, at least there, the pastries were outstanding.  A few weeks later, he called me, "You'd better get out to the warehouse.  I was coming back from the machine shop, stopped at one of those bakeries and bought way more than I should have.  It's your fault and you're going to have to help me eat this."  That was Dave.  (And the baked goods were better than I remembered.)

     Over six feet tall, with an iron-gray flat-top haircut (his hair stood straight up anyway, and he'd long ago decided to just go with it), he was usually dressed in Carhartts and hard-toed boots.  He looked like an action-adventure hero.  He deserved the nickname I gave the character, though he would have blushed to hear that..

     With his passing, the world got a little dumber, a little less competent.  It was too soon and too sudden, and none of us ever had a chance to say goodbye.

13 comments:

Bob said...

My condolences on the loss of your friend.

Comrade Misfit said...

Condolences, Bobbi. That's a very nice eulogy. I suspect he would have been both pleased and a touch embarrassed.

(The Captcha was "nicto")

Robin said...

A great eulogy for your friend.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Seems to be happening a lot, lately.
I AM sorry for your loss...

gfa

Anonymous said...

RX: As trite as it sounds, I'm sorry for your loss. He obviously touched your life, and your eulogy tells that story beautifully. May we all earn a similar eulogy.

- Drifter

NAVIGATOR said...

DEAR ROBERTA

MY MOST SINCERE CONDOLENCES TO YOU

IT IS THE COMPETENT HARD WORKING "HANDSOME DAVES" WHO THE WORLD RELY S ON IN EVERY PROFESSION TO KEEP THINGS FUNCTIONING SADLY THEY RARELY EVER GET THE CREDIT THEY REALLY DESERVE

SINCE YOU WERE FRIENDS I SUSPECT THAT THERE IS NOT A GOOD TIME TO EVER SAY GOODBYE FRIENDS DONT REALLY NEED TO THEY SHOULD SAY "TILL WE MEET AGAIN"

MAY HIS MEMORY EVER BE A BLESSING

rickn8or said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend Roberta.

Your eulogy was most eloquently expressed.

Old NFO said...

Great eulogy, and condolences on your loss.

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss.
I hope you know those whom we care for are not gone,
as long as we remember them.

Phillip said...

Good words for a good man. I imagine he would be proud to know what you thought of him.

JC said...

So sorry to hear this. He was obviously a rara avis, , and I know that he will be missed.

Ken said...

I'm very sorry for your loss, ma'am. It sounds like a loss for us all, though we knew him not.