“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.