Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Retirement of Our Friend, the Kiwi

A Flight Attendant friend of 30 years just announced his retirement from UNITED in another group. It's the same friend who suffered a heart attack in Rio de Janeiro over Thanksgiving, last year. His announcement has come suddenly with no forewarning and has affected me even more than I would have guessed. I don't think I'm alone in that regard...

In the few hours since he posted, his announcement has accumulated 450+ "likes" and hundreds of supportive comments. A loyal friend to many, an affable colleague, a wonderful exponent of "old school" customer service, Chris Valkoff will most certainly be missed, both by those who have been his intimates for so long and by those who never have had the pleasure of working with our resident Kiwi ISM. As so many salute Chris upon his departure, it strikes me:

When someone as special and demonstrative as Chris is in our midst, do we do everything in our power to let him know how we feel?

I suppose that my question is rhetorical. Do we ever adequately express the regard we have for those dear to us in "real time"? In some ways, it's like the airline industry in the aftermath of 9/11: only when we come so close to loss do we MAKE the time and effort to acknowledge value. I suppose that's just human nature. But the strength of our humanity is that we have self-discipline to overcome our basic nature and render ourselves into something greater.

If for no other reason, many of us feel pangs of loss as a result of our merger; it's inescapable. That which we loved and which helped us to value ourselves is no more. The present is in flux and the future unknown can be a frightening place. When a valued colleague leaves us by whatever means, our loss is exacerbated. Another part of our past is irretrievably gone. Seize the moment to appreciate that which you have and value now. If that is a colleague, a friend, make your appreciation known.

Godspeed to our friend and colleague Chris as he embarks on the next chapter of his life with his wife Connie. Friends may retire. Friendship doesn't. There's a place in our hearts and in the consciousness of our little community that will always belong to a flightless bird from the South Pacific named Chris.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your thoughtful comments, whether or not they support my message. If I didn't, how could I continue to grow?