Wish I could have said (Lifehacking at 50+)

Steve Coleman saved my life. Several times.
The first time was when I was dying in a dead-end job, having been maligned by two “fellow” employees to the point where I was assigned scut work, and never going to get a promotion. I met Steve, he was impressed by some pro bono work I did, and he hired me.
I was grateful, and worked my butt off for Steve. Even though I wasn’t his receptionist, the office didn’t have one, so when Steve was out, I covered the phones. I remember there was one caller, Mattie, who rang in at least once a week, and asked to speak to Steve. If he was in, he would say, “tell her I’ll call her back tomorrow.” I would repeat the message, and Mattie would go away, sadness drenching her voice.
One day I screwed up my courage and asked him if he ever called her back. He replied, “Mattie is a cocktail waitress in Atlantic City. I found her sitting on a curb in a parking lot, crying, and she gave me a sob story about being broke. I bought her some dinner and gave her a hundred dollars. I don’t know how she tracked me down, but she did, and every time she calls, she asks for more money. So no, I’m not going to call her.”
I didn’t think anything more about it. Steve and I got laid off from our division two years later. He went to work for another company, but we kept in touch; he said he would hire me again, if there were an opening. I had another offer, but it was with a fly-by-night outfit, so I called Steve and asked him if I should take it. “Hold on,” he said. “I think I can get you on here in my office next week.” And I did, and he did. That was the second time he saved my life.
And again, I was covering the phones during his absence. And again, there was a frequent caller – this time her name was Brenna. “Tell her I’ll call her back tomorrow,” Steve would say. One time he looked straight at me and winked. I got the hidden message, but I gave the verbal one to Brenna. She eventually stopped calling. Steve finally explained: he’d met Brenna at a trade show, where she was passing out resumes under the table of her display booth; he was trying to help her find a job, but she was hampered by an abusive husband, whom she would not leave.
Life lurched on; the manager of our department was arrested for embezzling, business suffered, and Steve laid me off, with the promise that if anything ever opened up again, I’d be back in his employ. In the meantime, I had a couple of personal projects that covered the bills, so I didn’t worry.
But then, I was in a car accident. With medical bills. Like thousands of dollars in debt medical bills. When people talk about the nadir of their existence, they are talking about times like I was going through. And since I knew Steve had gone through similar times, I called for a shoulder and some sage advice. “I‘m thrilled that you called,” he said. “A competitor in California is looking for someone with your skills and they’re paying well. I gave her your name, and she’ll be calling you.”
She did, and it was a fantastic job. I loved working for her, and her company. For the first month I dreamed of treating Steve to a luxury lunch to thank him for saving my life a third time. Finally, when I was solvent, I placed a call to his office.
A young woman answered. I asked for Steve, and she put me on hold. Finally, she came back on the line and said, “He said to tell you he’ll call you tomorrow.”
It hit me like a punch to the gut.
I wasn’t calling to ask for anything, I was calling to thank him. But he put me off as though I were begging for a handout. To him, I was just another one of his charity cases, who had tapped him once too often, calling to tap him again. Or so he thought.
Of course, Steve never called me back, and I never called him. I’ll never get the chance to set the record straight with him.
But I still would like to thank him for all the times he saved my life.
I owe him big-time. And I would tell him, if he would take my call.

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