Monday, September 14, 2009

Goodbye, Patrick

Patrick Swayze has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

I had the privilege of working on a DVD project with Patrick and his amazing wife Lisa Niemi several years ago, in another job with the previous incarnation of my company. I never had the opportunity to meet them in person, but for several weeks I was in frequent contact with them regarding all of the details of their DVD.

Things did not go entirely smoothly. Some of the assets on their project required considerable massaging and polishing to get them into shape. In mid-project our company had one of its periodic reductions in force. One of the people working on correcting a problem with the assets, who had been in daily contact with Patrick and Lisa, was suddenly no longer with the company.

Patrick was not pleased. He called, angry, outraged, apparently ready to pull the project and take it somewhere else. How could we be so stupid, to get rid of someone so critical at such a time?

I was on that call. Several others explained to him that it wasn't our decision, that we were blindsided by this as much as he was, but we had back-up plans in place to ensure a seamless transition. That calmed him a bit.

"Patrick," I said, "sometimes it feels like somebody's playing 'Jenga' with us. See how many pieces they can pull out before we collapse entirely."

There was a pause. And then Patrick could be heard shouting to someone in the background. "Hey, Honey, he says it feels like somebody's playing 'Jenga' with them!" Then he laughed. And everything was back on track.

I made Patrick Swayze laugh once. That was one of my proudest achievements in that job.

Goodbye, Patrick.

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