We never know for how long we'll know people, or in what ways we'll know them.
I contacted my old boss Charlie when I was passing through Seattle. He gave me my first job at the Atlanta Symphony that didn't involve getting coffee for someone. I hadn't seen him in a few years, and I wanted to say hi and catch up. And thank him for never asking me to get him coffee.
I learned a lot from Charlie when I was a fledgling to marketing -- how to connect with people, how to build real working relationships. How to not take anyone, including myself, too seriously.
Working for Charlie, I cut my teeth -- and lacerated some limbs -- on massive campaigns with budgets and goals whose numbers were so high they no longer seemed real.
Since he'd left Atlanta, Charlie had gotten a well-deserved and wowee-important job at the Seattle Symphony.
Charlie is always a great sport for spontaneous fun, and when he suggested we check out Benaroya Hall -- some little juke joint tucked under his offices -- I jumped on the offer.
"By the way, the Zombies are playing there tonight!" Charlie mentioned, almost as an afterthought. I'm sure I uttered some graceful acquiescence like "Shut the fuck up, let's go!"
Charlie had a good laugh at my giddy fandom as we crept into the back of the hall and they played hit after hit. Within moments, we were backstage, shaking hands with the legends and offering accolades. (Pro-tip: when you're not sure what to say, "You sounded great out there" is a great go-to.)
She's not there.
We always got along well, and had a blast talking without the yoke of the professional totem pole reining us in.
Before I hopped in my Uber to go back to my place, we had a nightcap at a quiet bar and reached what I call "the tippling point" -- the place where people become true friends and confidants over a couple of drinks.
Over the years, Charlie went from boss to mentor to friend. The difference, I guess, is that we started learning from each other.