For the past week, the Bladen Journal office has been missing an important cog that makes this machine run smoothly each day — which means that I’ve been having to make my own coffee each morning.
I’m sensing no sympathy.
Of course, when there are only four people making up an office that probably should have seven people, each of those four individuals are pretty important. In all honesty, the fact that we all have to do a little bit of everything and assist each other with various tasks, it has just brought us all that much closer — we’ve really become a family away from our families.
But this week, we’ve been without Lisa Taylor, who went on vacation without us … for which she has been forgiven. This week, however, gave us a taste of what things will be like starting next Wednesday, when Lisa begins a new job in Fayetteville.
Officially, Lisa is our customer service representative. That’s just a corporate way of saying she works the front desk and, in many ways, is the face (for those walking in the door) and voice (for those who call) of the Bladen Journal. With all due respect to those who came before her, I’d cast my vote for Lisa as the very best “face and voice” we’ve had in the nearly eight years I’ve been here.
And the reasons go far beyond her work ethic, efficiency and skills.
Lisa became a friend to us all. A good friend. From the time she came into work at 9:02 a.m. until the time she left — usually well after her scheduled time of 2:30 p.m. — Lisa brought with her a personality that I can’t imagine has seen a bad day.
Along with fitting perfectly into a position that can often be demanding and downright impossible when having to juggle contentious customers along with inane mandates from those above who don’t know the market, Lisa brought with her a large dose of common sense, motherly instincts and God-fearing beliefs.
And she hasn’t been afraid to tell any of us what’s what along the way — in the nicest way possible, of course.
Personally, I’ve grown fond of Lisa for a number of reasons that go beyond our interaction in the workplace. She’s also been a terrific listener when I’ve needed one. After the nearly two years she has been here, Lisa probably knows more about me than almost anyone — including the deepest feelings about the most special person in the history of my life — and has helped shape some of the decisions I’ve made recently.
I’m sure I speak for the rest of our staff when I say that those moments we’ve each had the opportunity to discuss personal issues with Lisa will be sorely missed. She’s touched all of us in a unique way.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve all also been given a glimpse into Lisa’s life away from the office — from her cow-wrangling to organic corn growing to Doberman breeding to occasional weekend trips to Costco in Wilmington to driving the church bus on Wednesday nights to the fitness center workouts to the faith-based discussions to the escapades of her son Ryan and daughter Samantha. And the head of the Taylor household, Steven, often gets portrayed by his wife as a solid man of God who is a good father and the love of her life.
All of that makes what Lisa says come across even more powerfully.
“Life After Lisa” for the Bladen Journal will be vastly different than what we’ve experienced over the past many months, as these past few days have shown us. And whomever takes over Lisa’s chair here will have incredibly prodigious shoes to fill.
We here at the Bladen Journal and the community we serve will have two more days with Lisa before she departs for a new chapter and challenge in her life. I know that we will savor those hours before having to bid her good luck and good-bye (though we all hope to remain in touch as best we can), and I would urge each of you to stop by Monday or Tuesday to see Lisa before she is gone.
And if any of you is proficient at making a cup of coffee, come see me.
Lisa … thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you brought to the workplace and beyond. You will be sorely missed but certainly (despite the Prilosec) not forgotten. Watch for texts and hot peppers coming your way.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.