Friday, October 17, 2008

My Friend, Levi

I work in an office. In fact, my office is very much like The Office. I can basically pin one of my co-workers to the exact position and personality of their Hollywood mirrors. I’d like to think of myself as the Jim of the office. Although everyone else may think I’m our Dwight. I’m probably closer to Andy. Always singing weird obscure songs, speaking in terrible Cockney accents, and sucking up to the boss with sickening effect. But I genuinely enjoy the people I work with.

In my particular wing of the office pre-menopausal women surround me, though I have very few complaints. It makes for incredibly bizarre and fun conversation. It’s a cubicle environment, where my ladies have their spaces brightly decorated with Tim McGraw posters dating back to 2003, various plants, and pictures. I decorate my space with Crystal Light wrappers and sunflower seed husks. Three cubicles down the hall sits my friend Levi.

Levi is one of the more unique people I’ve ever known. He’s exceptionally quiet but sharp as a tack. He rarely joins in office banter, but when he does it is pure gold. For instance, the ladies and I will be swapping stories back and forth all day long while we work on our accounts. We’re salespeople….we’re loud and constant. Levi is clearly within earshot, likely rolling his eyes, but stays silent until the opportune moment. Then at the perfect magical instant, he’ll throw out “that’s because you’re old” or “you shouldn’t eat that…it has a mother AND a face.” His commentary is never consistent, always abstract, and naturally brilliant.

He is also our office’s practical joker. He has put fake spiders in Cheryl’s umbrella. He prints off Hell’s Angels logos and tapes them to Kathy’s biker helmet. He used to make little dialogue bubbles out of post-it notes and would stick them to various McGraw calendars with messages like, “Man these jeans are tight” or “Has anyone seen my hair?”

Levi is exceptionally giving. At least twice a year he arranges for a soft serve ice cream machine from the plant he used to work at to be lent to Cookietree for a few days. He picks up the behemoth himself and secures all kinds of sprinkles and garnishes to make “ice cream week” special.

Levi and I share many things in common. We are both obsessed with music. I burned him a few Phish CDs, which he hated, and he let me borrow a couple of his discs, which I also hated. We both have exploited the public library system for movies and records. We both love pop culture trivia. And we both have owned our own small side businesses, which brings me to the point of this post.

When I got into work last Monday I came with a DVD to give to Levi. It was a documentary shown on VH1 where Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio (of Phish) went to Africa to play a concert with the legendary “Orchestra Baobab.” He wasn’t in the office yet, which was weird. About an hour later we received a mass email from our CFO notifying us that Levi had fallen 22 feet from a ladder while washing windows in Utah county and was in intensive care. He had broken his back, sustained massive damage to his head, had surgery to remove pressure/swelling/blood clots from his brain, and was still unconscious. I was devastated. We all were. This was one of those occasions where you look to the sky and wonder “why him?” This could not have happened to a better man. The rest of the day went by with a somber tone.

I have been anxiously following Levi’s progress. His good friend Chris, who incidentally found Levi unconscious, also works here at Cookietree and gives us updates. His family has set up a blog to keep all interested informed as to developments and improvements.

I marvel at human resilience and Levi’s iron will. I chuckle when I read about him always trying to disconnect the tubes coming out of his body, or fighting the doctor when he tries to adjust stuff. The man is a fighter. I’m also in awe of the perseverance and positive attitude shown by Levi’s family. It’s hard for me to look at things in the right light. For instance, I hear that Levi is able to lift a finger or say the word “no” and I feel anger and sadness because I am comparing his current state to the Levi that I work with. And that isn’t fair. His family sees every little action as a sign of improvement and a signal of hope.

I also have hope. I hope for a full recovery. I hope to have Levi back here to help me ward off the raving lunatic women in the office who batter me daily like waves against the rocks with giddy laughter and female hygiene talk. But no matter what the degree of recovery ends up being, I am thankful that Levi is alive. I am thankful that he is improving. And I am grateful that I know him. I look forward to seeing that toothy grin again and chatting about Beatles lore and conservative politics. I wish all the best to Levi and his family. You are all in my constant thoughts and daily prayers.


Kelly said...

I just read everything you posted about my dad to my sister and my dad right here in the hospital room. I laughed and cried. This is amazing what you have done and I can't thank you enough for your thoughts and your friendship with my dad. Everything you said is true about him and our family. He is a wonderful and good man. Trust me, we have wondered why as well. We are very grateful for every little bit we get each day and continue to pray for his full recovery also. I've never met you but I can tell how much you respect and love my dad. Thank you so much for this blog to pay tribute to him and help us to laugh (and cry). He'll be back, it'll just take some time. Please keep praying for him!!

Kelly said...

thank you so very much Tyler. I am Ali, Levi's second oldest, and I read your blog with my sister. Thank you for appreciating my father for being the awesome and wonderful person he is. Reading about my dad's antics in the workplace reminds me of all the jokes he has played on me, and how much I appreciate and miss them. One time ,when my sisters and I were much younger, we were afraid to go into our downstairs alone. Well after much refusal to go down and get green beans from the pantry dad said he would walk down there with all of us. In fact he would be so kind as to go down first. As we crowded on the half landing above, our dad turned to look up at us and said, "See girls, there's nothing down here to be AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!" during his reassurance a hand came from the side of the door and grabbed his neck and dragged him from sight. The sounds of 4 girls screaming and stampeding back up the stairs could be heard by our neighbors. As my mom is yelling "What's happened?! What's happened?!" you can hear down stairs the laughter of a thoroughly amused dad who has just made his kids scared for life of basements. I know how you feel when you say Why Him, but hang in there, he's not done with his jokes yet.=o)Thank you again.

Snyder-mom said...

I have to say, your description of your dear friend and the comments from his daughters, make me think of my dad. They sound so much alike. I can't even imagine going through what Levi's family is having to deal with right now. I will pray for Jeny and Ali to have their dad back, pranks and all.
I'll also pray that you get your quiet, yet quick witted comrade back.
Thanks for sharing Tyler. I was touched by your tribute.
I will make sure to give my dad a great big hug next time I see him, and never take for granted the time I have.