Andrea's column: A good connectionLast month, I received a friend request from a man who once saved me from what could have been a dangerous situation. Of course, I accepted.
A big thank-you to Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who has helped me connect with friends both old and new. If you don’t know, Facebook is an Internet social network. Members can send a friend request to someone from their past (or present) and if it’s confirmed, they receive each other’s posts — photos, what they like or don’t, what they’re doing at the moment, what they’re thinking.
Last month, I received a friend request from a man who once saved me from what could have been a dangerous situation. Of course, I accepted.
George Watson had often been at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis when I had my writing group meetings. He frequently joined clients there. We never spoke but after seeing each other so many times, we would nod or smile at one another. George was sitting at a table in the coffee shop the afternoon I walked to the back of the building towards the parking lot and saw it had become a slushy, slippery mess.
I walked back to the coffee shop to figure out my best exit strategy. Even with my cane, I knew I could fall easily. George looked up and asked if he could retrieve my car. I declined, saying it was parked right outside in the handicapped accessible spot. He then offered his arm and said he would walk me to my vehicle. I accepted.
At the time, I was writing for a Minnesota senior publication — one for people who had reached “the good age” and George appeared to fall into that category. I wanted to learn the story of this kind man, one who always looked so dapper, and share it with readers. A few weeks after he helped me to the car, I asked if I could write about him.
As I already suspected, he had been a Boy Scout. He grew up in the Bronx, New York, and says his mother felt Scouting would keep him away from gangs. He could be out in nature and away from danger.
I learned that George, a graduate of Atlanta’s Morehouse College, received his MBA while working for 3M. After 25 years with the company, he retired but didn’t stop working. Instead, he started his own consulting business, one that focused on bringing together people who work side-by-side but don’t necessarily get along because they are from diverse backgrounds. Rather than highlighting their differences, George helped them see their similarities.
Now, four years after he first shared his story with me, George and I have reconnected thanks to Facebook. Two weeks ago, we talked on the phone and discussed the latest chapter of our lives. I told him I no longer drive or have meetings at the Loft but I’m still writing. He told me of his new position with a Saint Paul company, Keystone Technical Services.
As vice-president of organizational management and sales, George helps companies improve their human services. I asked him to help me understand what that means. Ah, of course! His job is to help a business develop an employee so the worker can move to the next level of their career. That is the George I learned about years ago: a man who cares about people and wants to assist them to get where they ought to be. Ever the Boy Scout.