Thanking A Good Friend
Forgive me for one day, while I take care of some personal business. One of the more vocal readers of this site was missing in action for the last couple of months. Up until this week, John Mc had not been heard from in the comments section of this site since December. I have never met the vast majority of readers that comment on this site. I will admit however, that I do know John Mc. In fact, he and I have been co-workers since July; although I’ve known John for several years now. We used to know each other when I worked for another company, strictly on a professional basis and our conversations were pretty much work related.
Then one day, I happened to be in John’s office and noticed a Mario Andretti helmet, a Sam Hornish Penske car, Buddy Rice’s 2004 Argent sponsored Panoz and a replica of Jim Clark’s Formula One Lotus. IndyCar fans are extremely rare in the south. Imagine our surprise when we both realized we had known each other through work for a few years, but had never talked about our passion for IndyCar racing until then. We became instant friends.
We don’t always agree on most things – in racing or otherwise. We are on exact opposite ends of the political spectrum. For whatever reason, he is a fan of Memphis State University or whatever it is they want to be called now – while I’m a Tennessee Vol. I like the Titans, while John is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan. John buys American cars, and I buy Japanese. He likes Hornish, while I like Helio.
But we also have a lot in common. We both grew up going to the Indianapolis 500 and as it turns out, there were several of the same years that we both attended as kids. John’s first race was 1964, mine was 1965. We both share the opinion that AJ Foyt was the greatest driver that ever lived, and that Bill Vukovich probably would own that title had he lived longer. In fact, John’s mother was pregnant with him while she attended the 1955 race in which Vuky lost his life, so in a way John was there that fateful day.
Last summer, John recruited me to change jobs and join his company. I agreed and for the past several months, we have had offices across the way from each other – both decorated with IndyCar paraphernalia. None of our other co-workers get it. All they know is NASCAR. But John and I have become best of friends, even though we disagree on so many things.
Just before Christmas, John was hospitalized. He had had heart trouble before and although I was concerned, I assumed he would get things adjusted and be out in a couple of days. As it turned out, it was much more serious than we thought. In fact, my good friend, co-worker and fellow IndyCar fan was close to death – dangerously close.
It became obvious that John would be gone for a while. He and I have completely different roles at work, but I was asked to assume his duties as well as my own – which I did for the last two months.
There is a happy ending to this. John Mc started back to work this past Monday. As expected, knowing his personality – he overdid it the first day. He tried to take it easy for the rest of the week, but he is a hard man to hold back.
So why am I telling you all this? Because on Tuesday, John’s second day back at work, he did something that made no sense at all – he brought me a present, although I should have been the one buying a present to welcome him back. He brought me four vintage Indianapolis 500 prints, by famed auto racing artist Ron Burton. There were three from the 1966 Indy 500; AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti and Jim Clark. But the fourth was my favorite – Parnelli Jones in Ol’ Calhoun in the 1963 livery.
This will make a nice set for my office, to go with all of my other IndyCar memorabilia. I’m sure John realizes that I will now be that much further ahead of him in the quest to have the gaudiest office. It’s hard to believe work actually gets done in such a racing shrine, but it does.
We all take friends and family for granted, until they’re gone. I always appreciated John’s friendship. After his brush with danger, I’ve learned to appreciate it even more. Welcome back, my friend. And thanks for the artwork.