This blog is not going to follow my normal style, but it is something I feel I want to do.
Only a few hours ago a friend, a person who I admired, and was a true mentor passed away from cancer. He is the 2nd person in less than 6 months, that I know was taken way to early in life.
How do I know Bill? Well, the story goes like this.
When I was 15 or 16, my best friend, Kris, who still is one of my best friends, was working for his Uncle, Bill. But Kris was moving onto a new job, and gave my information to Bill. Kris being a great friend told Bill I was awesome and Bill agreed to have me come work for him.
I was to meet Bill at the Athens fairground that Saturday at 7 am. I remember this day, just like it was yesterday.
I arrived a few minutes early to see a guy my dad’s age in a big yellow rain suite washing a transport. I walk over and ask if he is Bill. He says Yes and gave me instructions to put on the other rain suite and start working. My first day we worked 13 or 14 hours, and not easy hours. Who thought washing trucks would be hard, but trust me, it was!
Very quickly I learned Bill was a damn hard working guy, and rewarded people who also worked hard.
The agreement on the phone was $6.50 per hour, which at the time was just above minimum wage. However, at the end of my first day, Bill said to me. He really liked my work and decided to give me a raise to $7.
From that day on, Bill worked me damn hard. We averaged 10 hour days on weekends, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to work 14 hours a day. But he always rewarded me. Almost every day he bought us coffee and toast for my first break, and when we went for lunch, he always paid.
There was a few times I tried paying, and he would let me, but the next day he would fill my car up with gas. So, did I really ever pay?
That was Bill, a hard working, extremely generous, and kind man. Just being around him made me want to succeed in life. He was actually the first person to inspire me to travel.
I remember he went to Acapulco, Mexico for vacation and when he got back he showed me pictures of his trip over a Crown Royal, and Coke.
That reminds me of my favorite quote from Bill, “I like Crown Royal!” he would randomly say to me when it was near his birthday or Christmas. One Christmas I actually bought him a small bottle and left it in his truck to find.
Bill also got me my first job as a welder at Tackaberry’s, which lead to me going to school to be a software developer. If it wasn’t for Bill, I would not be the person I am today, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today either.
One thing I will never forget about Bill, is he loved to give people nicknames. One of the funniest ones was when a friend of mine from school came to work with us. His name is Ben! Ben is a big dude, and always missed washing under the truck boxes. Bill nicknamed him, Bend Over Ben. There is a second reason he named Ben that. One night Ben and I went drinking, the next day at work we were a little hungover and Ben bent over to puke. Bill saw him and made a comment to me, “he can bend over!”
His nickname for me, was Knob! Yep, that is where my company name came from!
So, this summer I had a chance to go see Bill. I even dreamed about showing up with flowers and a bottle of Crown Royal and telling him how much what he did for me, meant to me, but I didn’t. You know why I didn’t! Because I was thinking about myself and was more concerned about leaving, and traveling. I thought, I will do it when I get back.
I rarely, if ever, have regret, but this time I regret not going.
I learned a lot from Bill, and my memories of him will never fade.
Before I wrap this up, there is something I must say! Don’t let life pass you by. Do what makes you happy, and don’t forget the people around you. AND never procrastinate when it comes to telling someone how much they mean to you.
Thanks Bill for everything!