Thursday, August 02, 2007


Her name was Linda; she was about 5’2” and she spoke with a lisp. She worked in our accounting department, doing one of those mystical, unknown things with numbers and data—nothing straightforward like AP or AR or Payroll. Oh yeah, and she collected designer Barbie Dolls.

Our offices were within a stone’s throw of each other, but around a corner. The kind of corner that exists for no other reason than to exist. You know that type of corporate building. Walls where they don’t make sense. They exist to segregate us by department.

But we are humans, so we try to tear down the walls, metaphorically, at any rate. We crave interaction. We would talk to each other interdepartmentally, pretending the walls didn’t exist, and in truth only having to raise our voices the smallest bit above normal. Not just Linda and I, but all the people in accounting talking through the ridiculous walls to all the people in Legal, Stock Administration, Investor Relations, and Corporate Development.

Until one day it all changed, with a moan and a scream that reached right inside and ripped at something primal.

As everyone on our side prairie-dogged around the wall, two of the women from the accounting side rushed over to shush us and move us back.

Linda’s mother had died. She learned of it through a phone call. Her response was immediate, loud, and visceral, and we all felt it.

From that day forward, no one ever spoke through the walls.


The point of this isn’t to be depressing or morose. It spawned from me thinking about how people come in and our of our lives, and even the presence of someone in your world during a critically important event, such as a life or a death, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to continue to be a part of your world.

We all worked together for a long, long time. When we were split apart by an acquisition, it was hard to say goodbye. I know a number of people continue to stay in touch, but I can’t even remember Linda’s last name. I doubt I’ll ever see her again. But there’s a part of me that wants to reach out and tell her that I remember her mom. And as long as someone remembers, she’s still alive in this world.