Lon, Louie, Mara and Guy at Louie’s apartment c. 1988
I met Louie in 1986 at his high school reunion. My daughter Mara was five and fell in love with him immediately. That sparked my interest. She knew something about the old man who had eluded me for over forty years.
While I mostly hung around the edges of the reunion, we did go to the big dinner on Saturday evening. Judy and I watched a man laughing and talking with his buddies, a man I’d never seen engaging with others in a rational and happy way. They were talking about things they had done in high school, mostly football stories. That was my Jamestown High School. I’d been to Blue Jay football games in that very stadium. Why didn’t I know about all that stuff? Why hadn’t I seen him as a person? He was a person with a life. A person with history. A young person with friends.
If you’ve worked at a corporation, you’ve been to them. Meetings. Endless meetings. For almost all of my working life I was at IBM. Now that’s a big company. And we had meetings. It seems that I was always in a meeting. In 1986 I was a line manager in the computer design department. We were working on the next generation of midrange computers, to be called the AS/400. There was a lot to get done, and that took a lot of meetings. Meetings like the endless status meeting.
This Tuesday was no different than any other. One of my peer managers had a regularly scheduled status meeting right before lunch. There were only three or four of us managers in the meeting, and it was crushingly boring. “Tell me, Guy, how is your team doing on the floating point accumulator design.” “Terry, what’s the status on the problem with the ALU chip?” This would go on for almost an hour, with Harlan putting together a summary for the boss.
In 1986 there was no internet, barely any email, and nobody had a radio in their offices. If there was something important happening in the world, it could wait for the Nightly News at 5:30 that evening. When you’re working, you’re working. This Tuesday was different. Continue reading