Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf from The Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel week of May 5
I looked at my boss and said, “Yah, right.”
He glinted at me and laughed and said, “Yes, really.”
I walked around to the front of my desk and looked down at his foot. I screamed and jumped back. There was indeed a bat being held down by his foot.
Every person we meet throughout our life touches us in some way. That touch or influence may be so slight that we do not notice as they pass us by. Others that we meet have a longer and lasting effect on our journey through this life. This week I dedicate this column to someone whose influence changed the direction of my life.
The year was 1998. My daughter had graduated from high school, and I was an empty-nester. I was looking for a job but not knowing what kind of a job I was qualified for. I had been out of the job market for a few years and didn’t quite know where to start looking or what type of employment I should be looking for. I was adrift in a sea of doubt about my abilities.
One day my phone rang. It was a person offering me a job out of the blue. He was offering me an office job, and I would be doing secretarial work.
I remember the conversation: “You want me to work for you in your business? I haven’t worked in an office in 20 years.”
This person assured me I could do it, and because I like to play around with graphic programs on my computer and he knew this. He also assured me that I could do some troubleshooting with graphic programs with his computer business. He said to me, “You are an artist.”
Of course I didn’t believe him, and I didn’t understand how out of character a compliment was for him to give, but I decided to take the job and take a chance.
I started working part time, and it was a tough road learning all the new things I had to learn about business and keeping books on the computer. I started doing the advertising for the business. IT wasn’t always rosy and sometimes it was darn right rocky because I made many mistakes.
After about five or six years, the longest I had ever worked anywhere because I usually got bored, this person encouraged me to move up and become a computer technician. He mentored me, paid for my classes and believed I could do it when I didn’t believe I could. There were many up and down moments. I was moody; my boss was moody. I would ask for help, and he would tell me to figure it out myself. You can imagine how well I took those words. Fuming, I would press on and lo and behold I would get it done and learn something along the way.
A few years after working as a technician with his business he encouraged me to start my own business.
Of course, I balked. I didn’t think I could do it. Finally, after going back and forth debating with my boss for about a year, he told me it was time because he was closing his office. He sent out a letter to his clients encouraging them to back my business, and they did.
I moved my business to my home, and he downsized to a small office that he let me use for parts. He still mentored me; I still fixed some computers for him and still answered the phone for him.
A few months ago I had lunch with him to tell him I was closing my computer business to write full time. My first book was out, and it was time to get serious about writing. He had always encouraged my creative endeavors even when I doubted myself. He encouraged me to keep trying, and now he did the same, wishing me luck.
I would not have had my secretarial career, my computer career and my writing career without this man, my employer’s encouragement. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
I am one person whose life this man touched. Mine is one story in the midst of many more. His influence was felt the most by his family, his wife, his three children and his 14 grandchildren. He was like the pied piper because wherever he was with his grandchildren you would see them following him.
This man was a quiet man. He did what he needed to do and got things done. He didn’t like a lot of attention, and he would hate it that I am writing about him. Did I just see a bolt of lightning coming down near me from the heavens?
In my writing I always remind people to keep the child inside no matter how old they become, and this man certainly did that. He seemed to know what each and every grandchild wanted for Christmas and would grant their wishes. Those of us in the office always suspected he loved the toys as much as his grandchildren. This man worked hard but also knew how to play with the spirit of the child inside of him.
His influence was felt throughout the community and over many parts of the country. His computer knowledge was respected and valued by many people. Throughout his personal life and his business he made many friends, and I suspect he would have been surprised at all those who will miss his presence.
Living in a small community, everyone knows one another. We know where they always park their car. He always parked his truck in and about the same place. Those who knew him would know where to look when they came downtown except perhaps for the day when he was looking for his vehicle.
“Have you by chance seen my truck?”
“No, why?” I asked suspiciously.
“No reason.” He hedged, as I suspect he already knew the answer and didn’t want to admit it to us.
It turns out the truck had been stolen, never to be seen again, but the stories that came out of conversations about his truck are memorable, too. Every friend, customer and business colleagues he knew would probably have a story of some sort about their connection with him.
This man’s name is Bruce Lorenz. He owned MS Computer Services in Wells. He died peacefully on April 19, 2014, at the age of 68.
His family, his friends and his colleagues will still out of habit look for his gait as he walks down the street, check the parking stall where his truck was usually parked, have a question we want to ask him and smile when we remember the stories.
His memory will live on in all those he touched. His memory will live on in the faces of his children and grandchildren. He will be missed by more people than he ever would have guessed.
Rest in peace, Bruce, your legacy lives on.