Thirty-Nine Thousand Ninety-Four,… and One

“Jesus Mike, it’s ninety-two degrees outside, maybe you should lose the jacket!”

“Nope, always where my jacket.”

Mike loved the Minnesota Twins and he was proud of his Minnesota Twins jacket. It didn’t concern him that it was designed for forty degrees, not ninety. As he said, he wore the jacket every day. Same thing for his blue blazer, dress shirt, bolo tie and dress slacks. Such heavy-duty service required that Mike’s wardrobe be replaced at regular intervals. To accomplish this, various members of the Pillsbury team volunteered to take him shopping. When it was Barb’s turn, she took him to Dayton’s, a fancy department store of the day. At Dayton’s, Barb picked out a pair of slacks that beautifully matched the sweater Mike was wearing. (I had forgotten, but he must have had a sweater also). As Barb tells the story, Mike looked at the pants, then looked at her and said, “no one wears cuffs on their pants anymore Barb”!

Another time, some folks at work took Mike out to lunch at one of the fanciest restaurants in town. Murray’s was known for their butter-knife steak, advertised as being so tender you could slice it with a butter knife. Murray’s had a 1950’s vibe, Lawrence Welk would have loved it! If you remember your grade-school “lunch lady”, you can imagine the servers. After lunch, Kevin asked Mike how he liked the food. Mike said he hated the green beans.

That story stuck!

Mike was developmentally challenged. Before joining Pillsbury, he worked at a “sheltered workshop” in a Minneapolis suburb. We hired Mike to sort and deliver mail to our floor as well as do some light filing. Mike was friendly, but could be a bit abrupt if the conversation strayed very far from The Minnesota Twins. Mike knew more than he let on though, as Steve found out the night he took him to the ball game.

The Minnesota Twins were playing The Toronto Blue Jays and per tradition, just before the first pitch, Mike and Steve stood for the two national anthems. Then, in a beautiful voice, Mike proudly sang every word of both the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada!

Every morning Mike made the rounds, checking in with everyone from senior vice presidents to administrative assistants. Mike worked at Pillsbury/General Mills for over twenty-five years, we all were very fond him.

Mike Passed away last Sunday from Covid-19. On Monday morning, The Wall Street Journal reported the US Coronavirus death toll reached thirty-nine thousand, ninety-five. In recent weeks I watched those numbers climb, concerned, but distanced from the reality until suddenly they included a friend. They are no longer simply numbers.

5 Replies to “Thirty-Nine Thousand Ninety-Four,… and One”

  1. Oh, I am so very, very sad. I have great memories of Mike, passing by my office and commenting on my lunch from the cafeteria or telling me there was mail in my inbox, as he breezed on to the next office. He never stopped to chat, and he never interrupted work. But he did remind me to get my mail or that it was lunchtime. Mike was an institution for all of us who had the privilege of sharing the floor with him. Rest In Peace, Mike. Those of us who had the honor of knowing you will miss you.

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  2. Mike was special and I’m proud to have known. Kind tribute here, Tim.

    This writing (style (good in you)) reminds me of John Cowan’s, even his book title “Small Decencies – Reflections and Meditations on Being Human and Work” sums it up. I thank you and the department for introducing him to me. I also have his book “The Common Table” and now plan to re-enjoy them.

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  3. I’ll never forget him. Mike was special and I’m proud to have known him. Kind tribute here, Tim.

    This writing (style (good in you)) reminds me of John Cowan’s, even his book title “Small Decencies – Reflections and Meditations on Being Human and Work” sums it up. I thank you and the department for introducing him to me. I also have his book “The Common Table” and now plan to re-enjoy them.

    Like

  4. Thanks for posting Tim….I loved seeing Mikey everyday and getting to joke around with him. He loved swisher sweets,ben gay and the mn twins. Don’t forget when he would always blurt out “Noooooooo!’ when you joked with him. God bless you for all you did for him. Mark

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