A while back I wrote a blog about my best friend from grade school but didn’t have the nerve to publish. His name was Tim.
We played sports together from grade school through High School. Tim was a great athlete and an amazing overachiever. We were roommates in college, then he went into the Army and ransacked Europe for a couple years.
He was a crazy fucker and always getting into trouble. We parted ways after college and he moved to Milwaukee where he landed in Sales for a staffing company that supplied companies with temporary workers. Before Tim, that company never had a Fortune 500 client on their roster. Within a year, he signed up four.
He was a relentless salesman and wasn’t afraid of anything. Certainly not a no.
His methods were as unconventional as they came. He’d spent months saddling up to an HR Director for a major company in Milwaukee before finally he got his chance. Tim invited his boss and the company president to join him at the table. The company president took over the meeting by going into a long spiel about about how Tim’s company would do this and do that and have x-amount of people ready at all times to satisfy the needs of their client. Tim sat silently and watched as his boss’s boss lied through his teeth for 15 minutes.
When the president ended his pitch, the HR guy, who knew Tim well after months of sales calls, looked at him and asked, “Tim, can you guys do all of that for us?”
Tim, looked him in the eye, and matter of factly said, “No way in hell.”
That was Tim. He shot straight and saw no reason to lie. He called me out constantly on the simplest things and wouldn’t let it rest until I came clean.
Tim was tenacious and it came at a cost. He had a dangerously addictive personality and while living in Milwaukee, cocaine became his diversion of choice.
He was working 14 hour days and that company was blowing up. He’d get huge orders for temp. workers, then have to literally case the streets of Milwaukee to find enough people to fill the positions. It was grueling work and on most nights, he would go home do a few lines, then sleep.
He was in and out of counseling for years and told me once his therapist said he was so wired that cocaine was actually a downer. He used the most prevalent party upper of our time to relax!
Fast forward 10 years when Tim was living in Savannah. He’d been through rehab and started his journey clean. Then slowly, he started drinking again and things ran out of control.
He lived on Tybee Island and had a few more sales stints before slowly losing his way. We talked almost every day and while I knew he was struggling to find work, he was always optimistic. It was quite amazing, especially when he told me he had cancer.
He’d gone to the doctor because his back was killing him for months and they found a tumor. Then a subsequent scan showed it had spread throughout his body.
He was consistent with updates and went into fight mode like only Tim could understand. He started juicing and eating raw foods, along with an intense vitamin regiment. We talked multiple times a day and there was no doubt in my mind Tim would turn his life around and beat this thing. He had actually been at a new job for about three months and decided to quit so he could stay focused and move back to Wisconsin while he recharged himself.
On his way back he scheduled a couple nights in Nashville so we could hang out and catch up. He called me the Friday before and said he was really excited to get home and watch the Packers and Badgers with friends and family he hadn’t seen in years. I too was excited and optimistic to see him in 7 days.
Of course a bunch of us were all in contact at that point. All doing what we could to sort it out and see how we could help. On that Sunday, one of those buddies, Marty, called me around 2:00 in the afternoon. They all called me Rope.
“Hey Marty, what’s up?”
“Are you sitting down?”
I couldn’t believe it. Tim died.
Marty told me they thought he died in his sleep sometime between late Saturday and early Sunday morning. I was stunned and completely wrecked. He was my voice of reason, my daily confidant and my therapist rolled in one. We had spent hours talking about dreams that never happened. A wild exchange of passion that flew through the phone lines then out into the universe like they never happened. He was my carbon copy in so many ways.
Tim died on Halloween and it shook me pretty hard. I immediately vowed to take action on some of our ideas. We’d been loosely working on a screenplay about his life in sales and it’s still sitting in my computer. I haven’t been able to touch it, but Tim’s death has given me strength I wasn’t sure if I could muster.
I silently pledged to, at the very least, live with more vigor. It didn’t happen overnight, but it gnawed at me for a couple months. Tim was in overweight when he died and the first thing I decided was that I would find my health. But, I still couldn’t do it.
I trudged ahead with similar patterns but so many things reminded me of Tim. He was always there. I kept his last phone message and replay the infectious laugh on occasion. I was bummed and feeling sorry for myself. Finally, it dawned on me that Tim would have been pissed at my lack of action.
Eventually, I took the the plunge on running and succeed in my first 5k. Every race since has been a major challenge, and Tim continues to be an inspiration. He was always up for a party, so I know he’ll be in New Orleans where I’m sure at least once, I’ll hear him screaming from a balcony as I run by . . .
“Come on Rope, you got this!”