Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Writer's Note: The above picture is NOT the person referred to in the posting.

As I was going into my local Home Depot, I recognized a former co-worker of mine when we were both executives at the headquarters of a national company. He was a step above me, with the usual step-above perks and pay as well. He wasn’t exactly a nice guy and he treated those beneath him rather poorly. And I didn’t like him.

I suffered the fate of so many others a few years ago and got downsized out of my job. He didn’t, and in fact continued to get more and more perks and pay.

He looked at me and then quickly looked away. As if he was hoping that I hadn’t seen him and wouldn’t want to engage in some catch-up conversation.

As curious as I was to find out what had happened during the ensuing years, I walked past him without acknowledgement.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what had brought a man from the halls of big executives to the carts of big box stores.

That’s right. He was now the humble employee of Home Depot whose duties, among others I presume, included corralling the shopping carts left in the parking lot.

I wanted to know how he went from making a $250,000 plus, a year to probably a tenth of that per year.

I wanted to know how it felt to go from wearing imported Italian leather shoes to wearing well-worn and dirty New Balance tennis shoes.

And I particularly wanted to know why I felt badly for him. I thought I would have gloated, at least a little. After all, he was a “bad” man. Yet here I was, feeling somewhat sorry for him. I didn’t want to, but I did.

I expected that I would have felt some sort of cosmic justice in what had happened to him. The gentleman (and I use the word with pejorative sarcasm) in question used to poop on those in the barrels below him. Now he was at the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

But there was no gloating. No sense of cosmic justice. No “attaboy” to the universe.

Simply genuine concern for him, and his family.

Usually when people say, “How the mighty have fallen,” they do so with a sardonic glee.

When I caught myself thinking the same thing, it was with understanding and compassion.

Maybe all that Bible study and prayer I’ve gone through lately has had a positive effect.

Maybe the need to feel somehow avenged isn’t as important as it was in my younger days.

Maybe somewhere along the way, I chose to reprieve rather than to reproach.

Maybe I’ve just grown a bit older and wiser.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

George Bernard Shaw

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