Three years ago, right before Valentine’s Day, I had a meeting with a prospective intern. He came to me recommended by a mutual friend, which usually turns out to be a good idea. Come to find out, as we usually come to find out, that we had many more mutual friends, colleagues, school mates, and all the other incarnations of a young, creative, urban commune. This was sure to work out.
We met for coffee to discuss his knowledge of Buffalo, his level of creative and artistic taste (a tricky kind of criteria to base a hiring decision on, but important for a job in an environment like this), and just to get an idea. In most interactions with potential new friends, hires, interview subjects, wash-and-fold workers, I like to gain at least a feeling of your personality (if you’re a creep, if you’re going to steal my stuff, if you know how to roll t-shirts), and then leave the details for later. Go with your gut, has gotten me far in life and work.
Patrick showed up, looking perfectly like an intern—60% eager, hungry, voracious; 25% precious; 15% incapable of speaking properly—with one extra thing not typically found: he had a personality. It should not be a revelation that many people out there in the world are too plain and easy to notice. Writers, especially, are notorious for blending into their surroundings. Patrick had moxie, a kindness, a politeness, and a laugh that appeared only when it wanted to, and a scope of inquiry that confirmed for me that he’d be great at probing the lives of strangers. As for personality, I don’t recall what he wore exactly, but based on the last three years of his wardrobe, it likely included cute visible foxes and cute hidden ice cream cones.
(At the end of our interview, which had quickly veered into conversation between two old chaps, he asked where he might take a girl he was hoping to impress for Valentine’s Day. I suggested some restaurants, and he later followed up with me, before hearing of his hiring, of the recommendation’s success. He also asked if he should cut his hair—an unmistakable junior mullet—which I laughed at and thought, oh that’s sweet, but no. “You’re just going to be an intern, that won’t be necessary,” I thought to but didn’t say.)
I won’t belittle the subsequent three years of work—for Block Club magazine, on Block Club’s administrative team, for City Dining Cards’s expanding community ventures; as a smiley, warm, trustworthy, professional, creative and invaluable face for this family of a company—with workplace stories. Retrace our steps since his first day, and you’ll see his input, words, direction and sensibility. His byline will continue to appear. He’s not going anywhere. But he won’t be here, and that makes me sad and more.
Today is Patrick’s last day. He will not be far from us. His new work will keep him close to the ideals I know he’s absorbed having worked here, and the work that we all believe so much in. It hasn’t hit me that he won’t be high-fiving me Monday morning; or answering the phone with a length explanation of how his name is Patrick, and our boss’s name is Patrick, and really they are two different Patricks; or sending me screen-caps of songs he likes, websites he laughs at, and intra-office chat nuggets, all of which make me laugh like a dying hyena; or me advising him to tell me “no” when I know his heart tells him to say “yes,” a fault I have a hard time faulting; or making me proud to print his byline for an article he put an inordinate, inaccessible amount of time into, given his expansive duties; or just his hidden ice-cream cones, that appear when you least expect it. His journalistic backbone has informed all that he’s done, no matter the project. His attention to detail has both saved my life and given me headaches. But it’s okay.
Patrick, “the other Patrick,” Bro, Hey Girl, colleague, buddy, high-five sensei, brother: you’re my favorite.