“Max has never married, no kids. No problems with the bottle or drugs. He just works hard and fishes or tinkers in his garage on his days off; and has never breathed a word of 1967 or Christmas Day in Quang-Tri to anyone. Imagine. The sole survivor. The trauma, the guilt.”
Wayne pushed his mostly full cup to the side and crumpled his napkin in his palm.
“Max was 19 years old when that happened. Nineteen. Nobody should have to endure something like that, but … just a kid.”
Wayne shook his head.
My pitiful, insignificant notes scribbled on the yellow legal pad stayed in my briefcase. In the time that followed the only reason I stopped by Max’s store was to drop off the latest company updates, usually just pages to be filed in training manuals, or simply to take Max or Wayne out for coffee.
Instead of pushing formal written direction for Max’s produce stand, I might have given him one or two verbal suggestions. Which he usually ignored. I never filed the damning, third report.
A while later my position was eliminated, along with other supervisors. Seems we were as expendable as anyone.
After so much focused time working for a company and building support relationships with the produce managers, no one under my direction called to even say good bye or good luck.
Nobody that is, except for Max.
But that was good enough for me.