Sometimes when you have a job that might ordinarily drive you crazy and not one that you love, having someone in the office that made you laugh and was a good friend would help you get through the day to day stress. For me, when I was still with Anchor, that person was Matt.
Matt was in the same office as me, a small building with just a handful of us. We were separated from the regular office folk, and I was thankful for that. The environment allowed for us to be a tight-knit group with our own funny stories and inside jokes. We could plan our own cook-outs without having to invite anyone else. We could make a run to Sonic for breakfast and not feel bad that we didn't buy for everyone. We were close.
Matt was the ray of sunshine in the group. Always positive and cheerful, I could count on one hand the number of times I saw him in a bad mood. He had great laughs; one when he was making fun of someone and one when he was truly amused. He had a bright smile to match the personality. Last year, when Matt turned 40, I decorated our entire office with various over the hill signs and gag items that I bought at Party City, along with a cake to commemorate the passing of his youth. Matt was a champ about it and even wore the gag safety vest I bought out on the lot. He later told me he truly felt the love that day and we made his birthday really great.
Matt sat along the same wall as me, facing the same direction, but we were separated by a large closet. That meant we had to lean forward to see around the coats and vests hanging on the closet door to see each other when we needed to share a look or make a face at something that was going on in the office. Sometimes when some of the other guys were in an argument, Matt and I would actually pick up the phone and call each other to discuss the situation, even though we were only 20 feet apart and it was unnecessary. I often heard him on his phone, calling his momma to check in and see what was going on.
Matt was quite the chef, and I often joked that he was going to make someone a great wife someday. He made me a pumpkin cheesecake on my last day at work, and even though it was his first attempt it was divine. He brought in a carrot cake one day that literally melted in your mouth, and I don't even like carrot cake all that much. His was excellent. Sometimes he would bring in a strawberry soda cake or some other dessert he had whipped up just because he was bored.
When I needed to stand for a little bit because I was tired from sitting at my desk for so long, I would always walk over to Matt's counter to chit chat. I helped him with a lot of his paperwork because Matt was doing the work of about three people, although he never really complained about it. He did it because it needed to be done, so I was happy to help him where ever I could. I felt really bad after I left to have Kate because all of the slack I had been picking up for him was going to be dumped right back on his plate, and despite my extensive efforts the company just didn't see the value in replacing me. They opted for cost savings instead, to the detriment of Matt and others in my department.
I have only spoken to Matt a couple of times since I left Anchor in October, but I could tell that he was more stressed than ever as I knew he would be. It was just too much for one person to have to handle alone, especially when the company made some more lay-offs involving another person in our small office. I felt almost guilty for leaving, even though I left for something so much greater than any paying job.
I wish I had called or stopped by to check in on Matt more often. Friday morning I have to go to his funeral and say goodbye to my best office friend. I really don't know how I will handle it. It still seems surreal that he's gone since I was accustomed to not seeing him daily anymore. Anchor has lost one of its finest, and I have lost a friend.