Facebook is weird. In the mix of sponsored posts, media click bait posts, and instagram brags, I saw a note shared to someone I’m friends with about someone I used to know named Lloyd Porter that has passed away. Lloyd was this tall, friendly cowboy that smelled like pipe tobacco and worked as the technical trainer in a call center I worked at back in 2003/04. I always liked Lloyd and was happy to see him but I haven’t had occasion to think about him in well over 10 years. Thinking about him today though, I realize I owe a lot to Lloyd. I maybe owe Lloyd my entire life.
In 2002 I was not doing awesome. I was freshly dropped out of college and the economy was still reeling from 9/11. I applied to literally dozens of fast food jobs in Eugene, Oregon and was turned down by all of them for not having any experience. I took a few different seasonal jobs before I landed a gig working phones for Harry & David selling gift baskets and fruit of the month clubs that holiday season. I was pretty good at Harry & David and didn’t mind the work but the job ended after Christmas and I found myself homeless, drifting from a couch at one friend’s house to the laundry room floor at another.
I managed to land a job working in customer service for a tech company call center in downtown Eugene after New Years 2003. I was pretty good at it but it was not a career or a real direction. It (barely) afforded me enough money to get an apartment above a beauty salon a few blocks away but I would have quit or been let go from it and not thought anything more about it – except for Lloyd. In talking with Lloyd (he was a chatty guy) I got it into my head that I could probably do the technical support job that made $2 more an hour. $2 more an hour was huge for a recently homeless college drop out. Lloyd encouraged me and a group of customer service workers to take a placement test (that he coached at least me on) and helped get us all trained to be technicians. I was computer literate but I was not a technician before Lloyd’s training. He made the subject matter accessible and stressed the skills I already had – common sense and clear communication. After training I did really well and that job led to another job that led to another job that connected my resume together and created a career that’s kept me from being homeless or unemployed since. The house I sit in is paid for by jobs I got because Lloyd said, “yeah, I think you can do this- let me try and show you.”
The impact that Lloyd’s decency and generosity had on me is both subtle and irreplaceable. Every friend I have now (and I have a lot of them) that I’ve made at jobs since 2003 – Lloyd deserves part of the credit for that. All of my financial decisions that impacted where I’ve lived and all the people I’ve met where I’ve lived – Lloyd deserves part of the credit for that. My dog. My wife. My truck. My MacBook that I’m typing this on. Lloyd deserves part of the credit for all of it.
It seems to me that our lives, that the world, is overflowing with Lloyds. People who do nice things just because they’re nice people. This thought humbles me and inspires me. I want to be a little bit like Lloyd whenever I can be. I want to recognize every other Lloyd I meet.
Lloyd didn’t need to encourage me. He didn’t need to talk to the bosses on my behalf. He didn’t need to coach me about the differences between FAT 32 and NTFS. I didn’t do anything to properly repay him for it. I never had enough context to know how much I had to thank him for. I do now.
Thank you, Lloyd Porter. Thank you for my life. Rest in peace and cowboy boots.