An unspoken curiosity inspired a high turnout for this year’s holiday gala and the hushed tones of some of the conversations underscored an air of anticipation of what would happen. No one but the brothers had seen Grady since his heart attack and recovery.
This is to say no one but the brothers had visited him in the hospital. About a dozen people had signed the card that accompanied the bouquet from the company. That was it.
T.R. Grady was not a popular guy because he had been such a jerk to literally everyone he worked with, for years. But hearing that he had experienced a dramatic transformation of some kind created something comparable to the reason people watch a fireworks display and the reason millions of people watch and share stirring and inspiring You Tube videos.We all want to be inspired. So, we show up when and where we think it might happen. That’s what stimulated the high turnout. In fact, this was the first company Christmas party that had 100% employee attendance.
The festive celebration was in full swing when Grady arrived, trailed by four FedEx employees pushing hand-trucks with dozens of boxes. Some party-goers were in the buffet line. Some were enjoying a third helping of the ample supply of eggnog-flavored rum, while others engaged in awkward, friendly conversation in clusters of two to five employees, and spouses of employees, of Three Wise Insurance Services.
The DJ turned the music down and handed the microphone to Glenn, one of the brothers, who asked for everyone’s attention. He, then, handed the microphone to super salesman, T.R. Grady, who started to say something, but then paused and looked down. Steve, the eldest brother who was standing nearby, stepped up and whispered in Grady’s ear, “You can do this. We’re all on your side.” Grady put his hand on Steve’s shoulder and smiled, then looked around at the familiar faces, almost seventy people altogether.
“I’ve never been good at speeches, so this will be short.” He paused again to gather his thoughts, then continued. “I slept quite a bit during the first two days of my recovery in the hospital, and I had a very disturbing dream as I laid there. I dreamt that I was in “A Christmas Carol”, like I was Ebenezer Scrooge. I know what that sounds like right now as we are wide awake, but at the time – being sound asleep – it was very real to me. So I found myself identifying with that guy. All the introspection he was forced to do was me being forced to look at the past, the present, and the future of my own life.”
“So anyway, I know you’ve all received a letter from me and I hope you know how sorry I am for being so…” At this point, Grady shuddered with a sudden rush of emotion and paused to regain his composure.
During this pause, someone in the room said, “We forgive you, Grady!”
Then, in a loud voice, someone else said, “We’re all Scrooge sometimes!”
Then a couple others said, “That’s right!”
It was not clear who started clapping, but there was an almost instantaneous standing ovation as a palpable wave of heartfelt emotion swept over the room. The applause continued for some time. All Grady could do was stand there in stunned surprise. Tears filled his eyes and he smiled at this unexpected display of grace and forgiveness.
Finally, the applause began to taper off. Most of those who had been seated remained standing, wiping away years.
Grady continued, “Here’s a funny thing…”
TO BE CONTINUED