R.M. from the United Kingdom asks.........
"Klecko, I want to hear about your worst day you've ever had at a bakery."
Well R.M....God Save the Queen, and the rest of you, a person might think that a guy would have to shuffle through multiple boxes in their mental warehouse to answer a question like this, but not me, not really.
I had one day that hurt me so bad I'm not sure if the parts I remember are real or surreal.
In the back of my mind I figured I'd address this in a blog posting at some time or another, but to be honest, I think I've been trying to avoid it.
About 2 years ago I was at work and usually each day I start my shift by running through E-Mails and social media posts.
On one day that seemed like it was no different than any other, I popped onto facebook and I saw a public post from Mike Finley (who has been my writing mentor for years, but in addition to rooting Klecko on, he is also the father to a young woman who worked in our buisness office at the bakery for several years)and the post read......
"This morning a Buddhist police chaplain knocked on my door, when I answered it, they said my daughter had died."
My first reaction was anger, I seriously was pissed that Mike would joke about something like that, obviously she could not have passed, she was only 24.
But then I thought about it for a few seconds and it occured to me that Mike Finley isn't a nut, he wouldn't make something like this up, and all of a sudden I felt like I was going to be ill.
His daughter's name is Danielle, and she is a one of a kind kid.
She was that punk rock / cynical kid that Hollywood always trys so hard to capture in their movies, but for some reason never quite gets it.
On any given day her hair might be a different color, her jewelry collection could have been shared with her dog Zeppo, or a new tattoo might surface on a body part that was selected by some ritualistic lottery.
That's what I loved about this kid. She had spirit, and she was always honest, sometimes even when you didn't nessisarily want her to be - lol.
So I'm staring at my monitor, I don't think I moved. I called out to Bill our Office Manager, and he came in and read the post as well.
Bill is an ex Pentacostal Preacher, a guy who sat on the direct oppisite side of every single issue on this planet from Danielle, yet somehow....these 2 loved each other, I believe more than a great deal.
I looked up at Bill and asked, what do I do? What do we do?
It's funny, because Bill Cahlander can be such a weirdo (KLECKO SAYS IN A LOVING TONE)but when level 10 catastrophe hits, I've never seen anybody in my life act more level headed than him.
Bill placed his grief behind him and issued the following instructions to me.........
"OK, first off you don't ask anything, you simply go into their home, and get details as to who will be coming to their house over the course of the next seven days.
When you get a number, go to Restaurant Depo and get enough food for these people, but theres other things that they will need. Toilet Paper, Dish Soap,Tooth Paste, all that kind of stuff is going to be needed and the last thing a grieving person wants to do is rush off to Super America or Wal Mart to grab forgotten items."
So I did these things, but still you just feel as if your efforts are futile.
In a weird way though, I feel like it pulled me closer to their family, I mean how can it not? Basically we all just clicked into survive mode together.
Just about a month before Danielle's passing, I met up with her at the Happy Gnome for a burger and beers.
She was so-so excited to show me photo's of a recent trip that she had taken with some friends to Mexico.
Danielle's family somehow mustered up a dose of courage that may be equalled, but can never be surpassed.
At her funeral the mourners were made up of peeps with facial piercings, tennis ball sized ear lobe gauges, members of the transgender community, artists, poets, doctors, lawyers......and a baker as well.
I'll bet their were hundreds of people, all of us sat in complete silence.
Then her brother John came out, you could see he was obviously forelorn, but then he picked up his guitar and started to play.
That was the first time since the tragedy that I smiled.
Next her Mother came out and issued a speech where she thanked each of us for attending, and our involvment in their lives.
Sue McGleno marveled, she also slugged me in the arm, it actually hurt so as I turned to find out what her problem was, she interupted me before I uttered my first word......
"Isn't she wonderful? to have the strength to stare through the grief and pain and then use this oppurtunity to express graditude. I would be pissed! I would be mad at God, I'd probably be mad at you too, but she's...."
And then Sue McGleno couldn't finish, she didn't know what to say.
I kinda have always had a rule that when I enter into my house, I don't discuss work with my family, and I NEVER talk about employees.
But I broke that rule often with Danielle because even though I know I drove her crazy, I want to think deep down she knew that I loved her about 1/2 of what her father did.She was an interesting person, and a fun topic of discussion. She meant that much to me.
Now her Pops walks up to the microphone. I watched as he dug in, he gripped the podium as if to get his balance and then delivered a plea to all of us to make whatever efforts we could to become more accepting of ourselves, and the other people who get placed in our paths.
In written word that sounds so lame, but under the circumstances, mixed with the conviction in which it was presented....It was like some kind of angelic harmony.
I don't want to sound irreverent here, but his words were crushing peoples hearts.We were inspired and sad at the same time. He had that hole Billy Graham vibe going, but his delivery was more like Pa Ingall's, you know, how he's say something so majestic at the end of a Little House on the Prarie Christmas Special, and you just knew that everything was going be alright......how very-very unselfish of him.
If you ever get chance, or better yet,just make time to go online and Google the writings of Mike Finley.
In my opinion he's w/o a doubt the most influencial writer since Jack Kerouac.Dude's rants are more interesting than mine and that "Call Me Ishmael" guy combined.
He's also on Facebook under Mike Finley or Lucky Park Productions.
Either way.....check him out.
And just in case you are wondering R.M. from London town. Yeah, the 9-11 terrorist bombing would have probably been as equally disturbing, however I had that day off.
So when I look back over 30 years, I guess I can tell you that this the one day, the only time in my life where I had to leave my shift because I was able to perform my assigned task.
And Danielle........not a day - not a day - not a day goes by where I don't think of you kid.
The worst part of having you gone is I no longer have anybody to tell me how uncool my music is, and ironically that comes from somebody who's secret indulgence was to sing along with Jon Bon Jovi!
Polish Jesus......however stuff works up there, tell the kid she still makes us smile and we love her.