Recovery Mode

It was just before Christmas of 2018. 

…the final week before we shut down for a long and well deserved holiday. 

A delayed project or a lower than usual volume in the workload allowed me to break away from the shop to wish some of my colleagues a safe and Merry Christmas. 

The campus is quite large and a brisk mid-morning walk on a beautiful December morning is just what I need.

To the far side of the campus I go…to visit the tool design group…some of the brightest and best in the industry.

Well-wishes delivered, its time to head back. 

On the way back I passed through the machine shop, continuing my mission to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, exiting the door at he opposite end of the shop to complete my mission.

Making my way along the road…I continue my brisk pace. 

Along the way, I noticed an employee struggling to replace a propane bottle on his forklift. I cross over the road to offer a helping hand…

I was startled… 

He should not be here…

I have ever seen anyone so close to death. 

I had been thrust into a scenario I could never have imagined.

Concentrating on the task at hand we finished the task.

 At odds about what I need to do…I wished him a Merry Christmas and continued my walk, now tasked with a new mission. 

My responsibility moving forward is becoming apparent. 

I’m brought to tears

I have to get involved

Upon returning to my workstation, I made the call.

“Medical”, answered the nurse. After a brief conversation, she promised to have the Nurse Practitioner call as soon as he was available. 

A short while later…

“Hello Mitchell, this is James, how can I help you”

I replied “James, thank you for getting back with me.”

“I’m sure this is probably the strangest request you may ever have, but…could you do a Wellness Check on an employee?”, I asked

A slew of questions followed…regarding my relationship with this employee. 

“No, I am not his supervisor. No I am not his lead man. I do not work with him. I merely encountered him and have to get him some help”

Later, through co-workers, who worked with this employee,

I learned of his health issues. 

He did get the help he needed…

His life was saved.

Surely, I was not the first person to see that he was in need.

His immediate supervisor allowed him to get on a forklift in his impaired condition putting, not just himself…but, others at risk.

Everyone in my chain of command received and e-mail from me asking, “How did this happen?”

Everyone in this employees chain of command should have been admonished for allowing this to happen. 

Update: May of 2020

I retired in March of this year, but stay in touch with my friends from work…

I received a text yesterday.

I am saddened to hear of his passing.

I can’t tell you how many times I have passed along one of my go to mantras…

”It’s best not to get involved” 

So many times, in my career as a toolmaker, someone would ask about a project or a quagmire they found themselves in…“Recovery Mode”, I like to call it.

It happens. 

It is the nature of the beast

…I would look at them and say, “What is my inner being screaming?” and they would recite the mantra,

“It’s best not to get involved.” 

I will always get involved…

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