I Cried a Little at Work Yesterday


marcieIt came out of the blue Wednesday, I guess. “It” was an all-Charlotte-employees email at Red Ventures. (Even though we’re not in Charlotte.)

The subject of the email was an insanely popular employee at our cafe, Ilios. You’ll see how insanely later. Her name is Marcie, and I’d met her my first day at the company back in November 2011, when I was a contract worker with a future that extended, at the time, no further than February.

Lunchtime came – not soon enough – and I took the short stroll to Ilios, our onsite cafe. I got some sort of sandwich – even I don’t remember what kind, and I usually remember everything. Anyway I went to the register, and Marcie rang me up. I know this without trying to remember. She was smiling and upbeat. That’s because Marcie always was smiling and upbeat.

As the days piled up, we chatted as I was paying – she’d marvel that I always had exact change. It wasn’t hard – the cost always was $5. It was a real casual friendship – I didn’t even learn her name until the company trip to the Dominican Republic last December. At any rate, we chatted nearly every day. Sometimes she’d make smoothies – the mango one was the best – and she made coffee and other beverages in the morning. Always with a smile on her face.

Back to the email. It said Marcie was leaving Ilios, which was a bummer. It also said she was headed to California to pursue acting, which is ultimately cool.

My lunch-line friend is chasing a dream. Who can’t be happy about that?

Will she be a big success? Who knows? The important thing is that she’s trying. That’s half the battle right there. I’ve always thought I’d be a great singer – I’m better than a lot of the folks out there (at least the way I hear me, I am). But I’d never have the courage to chuck it all and depend on my voice for a living.

That’s why my sadness at Marcie’s leaving was overcome by my joy at seeing someone strike out on a mission.

A lot of other folks felt that way, too. A giant card went around for everyone to sign. I think there ended up being 11 more pages of well-wishes attached by the time it made it around RV. And, oh yeah, there was an envelope attached where people could give cash to support Marcie’s dream.

She got the card yesterday, at 2:30, at an event down in the cafe. We gathered near the tables while Marcie finished making coffee drinks for some late lunchers. Then someone called her over. They presented her with the cards and other wishes, then showed her that there was cake. Then they gave her a going-way present: a suitcase, red of course, stuffed with RV paraphernalia so she won’t forget us. And the cash – $717.

Marcie was overwhelmed. She’d been on the verge all day. As I’d gone through her line – even though the other one was shorter – I frowned to show her how I felt about her leaving. “No sad faces,” she laughed. She smiled, and I couldn’t help but smile and wish her good luck.

But with cake (we have cake for almost everything), cards, notes, a suitcase, and a big old wad of cash on the table, Marcie couldn’t hold it in any more. She started thanking everyone and she broke down. That’s when I broke down, too, and shed a few tears I tried not to call attention to. I got caught, of course. Not that it mattered. There weren’t many, if any, dry-eyed colleagues around. My co-worker and friend Heather expressed the only concern we have for Marcie: “I hope she’s not too nice for Hollywood.”

We have high hopes for Marcie. And much respect for someone brave enough to go for it. 

Of all people, Casey Kasem probably said it best: Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

ETA: Who knows what you’ll grab when you do … Good luck, Marcie.

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