Remembering Sparky…

You know it occurred to me I should write about my friend Don Sparks.  I knew Sparky pretty well.  We worked together for 10 years and we maintained our friendship after we parted company ways.  During the last couple of years we purposely stayed out of touch because our companies became competit ors.  I was certain I did not hear from him because he never would do anything from a business standpoint that would even begin to appear as inappropriate.  I got an email today from a business acquaintance that Sparky passed away last Friday.  Don was 53, and I didn’t even know he was sick. 

Sparky, as do we all, had a few idiosyncrasies.   Don was very meticulous.  He had a place for everything and kept everything in it’s place.  It was a treat to put a travel or golf bag in his trunk.  His trunk was spotless.  He would even put down a towel to put your bag on.  You were not sure if it was to keep your bag clean or keep his trunk clean.   Needless to say, it took Don longer to complete some task than it would other people.  So he just worked harder at it and put more time into it.  But when it was complete you knew it was well done.

I remember when Donna and I were working out of the St. Louis Schumberger regional office.  I was the technical support engineer and Donna was helping out as a secretary and receptionist.  Don and the rest of the sales force was in town for training and golf.  It was time for lunch and we were a little short.  Don promplty pulled a 20 dollar bill out of his wallet and gave it to Donna and said “lunch is on me!”

There are a few other classic Sparky stories.  One involves having the toll to go through the tunnel from Windsor to Detroit.  I was not there but have heard the story so many times it seem like I was there.  Don always tried to be prepared and always practiced safe and defensive driving. Very defensive.   Not having the change for the toll booth was completely uncharacteristic.  None of his passengers had the toll either.  So needless to say as the traffic lined up behind him with horns honking, Sparky got out of his car and walked over to another booth to make change.  Horns still honking he returned to his car, paid the toll and then calmly checked his rearview mirrors twice before putting his car into drive.  I guess you had to be there.

 Sangamo sponsored a golf outing every year in Lima, Oh.  We would invite about 20 customers from Detroit Edison, Consumers, Cincinnati Gas and Electric and other clients from some of the Investor owned utilities in the Michigan/Ohio area.  A staple of these events would be the traditional drinking of the Ft. Mitchell martini.  A Ft. Mitchell martini is a lot like the lyrics from an old song from the rock group “Audience”.  Audience had an album from 1969 that contained the lyrics “one wife will make you crazy, two will make you dead”.  Well anyways, two Ft. Mitchells might kill you.  You would take one part Stoli’s, one part Beefeaters, two japeleno stuffed marinated olives and a little of the juice from the olives as vermouth.  You can see why one would make you crazy and two would make you dead.  Stolis and Beefeaters are not top top shelf, but they are better brands.  One year it was Sparky’s responsibility to get the vodka.  What happened will for every go down in Sangamo/Schlumberger history.  You see, Sparky purchased a bottle of POPOV.  I guess you could say he was being a good steward, but there are some things you just don’t compromise.  I am sure to this day that there are many who when they think of Sparky will remember that day and think “POPOV”.  I do and I was not even there!!

But as you go through the seasons of life, you often look around and take note of what your peers are doing.  3 out of 4 of my classmates that went to the same high school I went to tried out for football, so did I.  After high school graduation, I was not particularily motivated to go to college, but as my friends started to prepare to leave, it occurred to me I needed to sign up and start school somewhere.  So what do you do after graduation?  My daughter Lisa and her best friend Kim (that tall drink of water) both graduated in the last year.  Both are engaged to be married this year.  Do you remember when you made freinds by meeting your kids parents?  You were all at the same events, soccer practice, school events.  Do you remember the first 50th birthday part you attended that was for a friend and not for a relative?  Have you ever had lunch with two people (clients) that have had heart bypass surgury?  Well, I must be off…


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