Journalist, author, podcast host and dog lover Ed Berliner, who wrote the forward for my second book, The Death Of Fairness, mentioned in a recent post about the positive effect the human voice can have at this time in our society. The unexpected surprise of hearing from someone can change a person's day, a distraction many need at this time, and since we all have extra time, you should try it. Get your phone and reach out to someone you’ve not spoken to in a while.
I opened my Facebook messenger list (it’s quite long and I’m not sure how those people got there), and I simply started scrolling. Once I got past all the names I’ve recently been in contact with, the fun began.
The first name that caught my eye was the wife of a favorite, but unfortunately now deceased, colleague I’d known since the ’80s. I messaged to alert her to my call and she answered immediately. Amy sounded just like I’d called to their house to speak to Joe in 1995, bright and cheery as always, although a bit tentative. I mistakenly remembered her as a nurse; she’s in the healthcare industry as a records keeper, both jobs so very vital at this time.
I thanked her for working so hard and told her from what I’d seen on Facebook, she and Joe’s daughter Jennifer grew up to be a beautiful, successful, and well-rounded woman. I congratulated her on Jen’s recent wedding and ended the call. Not more than two minutes and I’m pretty sure she thought about it all day.
On my next random call, I landed on another colleague I’d worked within the ’80s who was the assistant to one of my old bosses, someone I hadn't spoken with in over 30 years. Bertha was my consequential victim. Her job was to keep up with our “numbers” guy boss, (who was [effectively] somewhat anal-retentive), along with corralling a crew of rambunctious, big-headed radio DeeJay’s; not an easy job but she handled it well. She dabbled into radio commercial sales, eventually leaving that career to own a fitness club for over 30 years.
Surprised to hear from me, but happy I chose her, we quickly caught up on each other's past, everything up until a few weeks ago when things changed for us all. We spoke about how she’s dealing with running her business without her clients in the fitness studio. Bertha has resorted to periodic reminders to her patrons on Facebook “live” encouraging them to; get up and move, drink lots of water, eat healthily, and think positive thoughts. She said her cat, Lucky Poncho, was sad because all his friends had stopped coming to the studio. I assured her that everyone would be back soon, that her positivity was contagious and to keep up the good work. There’s no doubt that the call was on her mind all day. It brought up good memories, and she’s a special friend to me.
Keeping with the theme, I called Jackie, another assistant to one of my past bosses. 10 years ago, my wife had business in Dallas and I tagged along. While at our hotel, Jackie and 3 others, including our old boss, gathered from around the area to join me for a mini-reunion of friends. A couple of the guys I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. It was a last-minute surprise but I’d not communicated with Jackie since. She was my next victim, so I sent an alert for her to expect the message phone to ring and... voila!
She was surprised to hear from me. I explained to her my new venture; to randomly call friends and spread some positivity. She liked the reason for the call and said how comforting it was to hear from an old friend. Around the middle ’70s, Jackie was the right hand to an ultra-creative, radio programming virtuoso boss and corralled a crew of 20ish aged DeeJays at our office on the famous Arthur Godfrey Road on Miami Beach. We wore shorts, flowered shirts, and flip-flops to work and probably enjoyed too much of what “fun in the sun” has to offer. Everyone loved Jackie and she kept us in line (I’m hearing chuckles from friends in my head). A strong, bright woman with a big smile, she was funny enough to eventually end up on the radio herself, as a partner with some very famous morning DeeJays. After a career of many years and raising her two grown kids, her new mission in life is as an advocate and fundraiser for the homeless community of Houston, Tx. She’s working from home now, but those in need have a positive, dogged advocate and I am proud of Jackie’s latest path in life.
My next call was Joni, a woman who was the right hand to one of my former leaders, he too an ultra-creative, radio programming virtuoso and in charge of managing schedules for a wacky pack of DeeJays. Another surprised friend, happy to get a call. I told Joni about my reaching out to friends I’d not spoken to for a while, just to hear their voice and get caught up. Like Jackie, Joni too spent time as a personality on several radio stations but eventually, the focus of her life became higher education. An instructor throughout New York and Boston, her work on the effects of digital socialization is highlighted in her award-winning documentary, Celling Your Soul, a selected film for the American Psychological Association conference in 2018. Joni is an advocate for kids and their struggle to deal with life in today’s society. She is another positive friend who I’m proud to say, is a force in her community.
My next surprise call went to a young lady who I believe was 9 in 1987, the last time we spoke. Facebook has allowed listeners from the different radio markets I’ve worked to find and follow me. “Bedcheck” was a feature of my radio show in different cities. In the final segment of the night, I’d open the phones and let listeners have the final say. In Miami the “star” was Rina, in Washington, D.C. it was Frank da Framer and in Baltimore, the star of “Bedcheck'' was 9-year-old Desiree. The cutest little voice would greet me with “Hi Kid!” and she’d be off, sharing her day and the fun things she did at school. She’d show up at times when I would make a personal appearance to promote the radio station and I soon realized that fans were more interested in talking to Desiree than hanging out with me. Years ago, her name appeared on my Facebook message list so I scrolled to her number and typed the warning, “Kid Curry is calling your phone!” We played phone tag but finally connected. Boy was she surprised, and I recognized the grown-up version of her voice.
Des grew up to attend college, was a Veterinarian tech, Compliance coordinator, paralegal and is now working as an Administrator at the Maryland Attorney General’s office. She’s a single mother of two who has listened to cassette tapes of their 9-year-old mother, on “Bedcheck.” The same smart little kid who made me laugh every night has grown up to be a positive force in her community as she fights for the people. She’s also into jewelry design.
I’m going to continue reaching out to speak to old friends. Hearing a voice from the past and remembering good times can help fill you with joy, and it’s always positive when you can pass on good vibes. Until next time, Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Peace