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Joe Drye Was My Friend

August 3, 2021

Lots of people read my daily scribbling here. I’m guessing that most of you haven’t heard of Joe Drye. And, other than this post you are likely to never hear about him again.

Joe was my friend. He died yesterday August 2, 2021 from COVID 19.

Joe was 33 years old. And other than a smoking habit that he kicked five years ago, really didn’t have any underlying health issues. I’ve known Joe for years. He was, without exaggeration, the hardest working man I’ve ever met.

Joe could work me under the table. In fact, he could work himself under the table. . .literally. Joe was a desktop engineer when I met him. Just another face in a company of 130,000. We worked together building out our call center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Building out a call center takes about 4 months. Which is why they typically want it done in 3 months. It’s a very large project. Lots of different teams and departments get involved. A Project Manager puts a master plan together. All 90 days are plotted out in advance. Each team has a set amount of time. And when you try to squeeze a 120 day project into 90 days, stuff sometimes doesn’t meet its schedule. And it is NEVER early. It’s always late.

A project manager, because he’s good at HIS job, has a buffer built into his schedule. Technically it’s called “float.” But, easiest to think of it as a buffer. So, over the course of the project, that buffer or float slowly gets eaten up. And since you can’t change the go-live date, it’s the last team that has to deal with a short schedule.

Desktop engineering was the last team. In Louisville, Joe was our engineer. He was there by himself for much of the project. We sent him another engineer to help out. Joe fired him after one day. Well, technically he didn’t fire him. He couldn’t fire him. But, he effectively fired him.

I don’t care what you do, but I need you to stay out of my way.

We sent the other engineer back. Joe was just going so fast that if you weren’t running, you were in his way. I “helped” for a few days as well. I mostly stayed out of Joe’s way. I vacuumed. (Seriously, it’s a task on the project list.) I unpacked boxes. I arranged chairs. And Joe literally worked himself to the point of exhaustion.

He collapsed on the floor one night when he working alone. It wasn’t a “medical emergency” or anything. His body just finally quit obeying commands from his brain to keep going.

Joe became a lead. The company doesn’t always recognize the people who should be recognized. Fortunately in Joe’s case, they got it right. He was Lead over one of my sites. I really wanted him to be lead over all of them. It would have made my life a lot easier.

Then, a few years ago, he took a job as a Technical Program Manager. It was the same role I was doing. And Joe was better at it than I was. He wouldn’t tell you that, but I would. Fortunately we worked on different accounts. I was good at my job. And like all his jobs, Joe was exceptional at his.

Somewhere in here he married his lovely wife. She worked for the company too.

I don’t think I’d ever seen Joe happier. He had found a purpose and a soul mate. They were perfect for each other and perfect together. Joe was more than a colleague. He was a friend. We talked about kids. He and his lovely wife wanted to have a family. They were discussing foster care or adoption. I’ve adopted a lot of kids, so we had a lot to share.

When I got laid off from the company,, Joe was the first one to call me to make sure I was doing okay. He also tried to cheer me up.

I know A LOT of people they should have let go before you, Rodney.

It was high praise coming from him.

A few weeks ago Joe got sick. Like many people, he had COVID. It was a serious case. He ended up in the hospital. And then he transferred to a better hospital.

Of course it’s serious, but I didn’t think it was end-of-life serious. I had a friend here in Utah who is a state legislator who ended up in the hospital with COVID. He was very sick. And then he got better. I saw him just a few weeks ago at the local rodeo. He was in good spirits and good health.

I’ve had family including my lovely wife get sick with COVID. They got very sick and then they got better.

And that’s what I expected for Joe. His lovely wife kept people updated on Facebook. She and Joe are both very active in their local church. Many people were praying for him. Of course, my family and I were also praying for him. My kids who had never met him added him to our family prayers.

And then, today I heard that he didn’t make it. He’s the first person I’ve known well who has died of COVID. And he was much too young. I mean, everyone is too young to die from COVID, but it’s always someone else, faceless names that we see and then forget, except to remember the this virus exacts a deadly toll.

You would have liked Joe. Everyone did. He was one of those Southern guys that speak slowly but have a lot to say in a few words. He was generous and caring. Although, again, that Southerness prevented him for being TOO open about it.

There will be many deaths from COVID in the coming months and possibly even years. Eventually, I will no doubt know others who succumb to this terrible disease.

I pray for the victims and the families.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

  1. Sharon Drye permalink

    Rodney – I appreciate your kind words but could we please consider a title change? This is very crude and somewhat offensive showing up all over my timeline just to be honest. Also as a small side note, joe hasn’t smoked in 5 years or longer. I do truly appreciate your kind words about myself and Joe, but I can’t handle seeing this title pop up Every time I pull up Facebook as it is being shared by friends.

    Thank you

    • Sorry. I didn’t expect it to get a much traction add it did. I’ve changed the title but if someone reshares an existing share it might not pick up the new title.

      I didn’t know he quit smoking. I’m happy he could do that. I’ve added that to the story

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