Below is a true story. All of the names have been changed.
My work day started as I began to listen to my boss’s recording. I took dictation and the earplugs were all set to go. I turned on the machine and heard “Joe” say, “Take a letter. B I N G O.” I took out the earplugs and quietly laughed. Joe was always very serious and professional, especially with any recordings he made. Intrigued, I listened further. I could hear his children in the background as he continued to record nonsensical information, which was not the norm. I put the dictation aside and discovered a little later that Joe was walking towards me with an empty glass. He had an entourage. He said, “Get me water from the good fountain.” I looked at the assistant seated next to me and said, “The good fountain? Is there something I need to know?” As the day unfolded, I learned that Joe was having a nervous breakdown. He was whisked away to a nearby mental facility where he stayed for three weeks. The firm I worked for in the 90s had 4 floors filled with the brightest and smartest attorneys. They were mostly white conservative males. Joe was no exception. He had always been kind and professional to the staff and his colleagues. He had an excellent reputation, and it was an honor to work for him. I talked with Joe’s wife who sounded like she was trying to keep herself together while caring for Joe. I walked around the hallway and heard one of his younger colleagues shout into the phone, “They just took Joe to the mental hospital!” I closed “Sean’s” door. I did not close it gently. Joe deserved the respect that he had always shown others. He stayed at the hospital and received the help he needed. I learned he was bipolar. The first day he came back to work, he looked a bit like a fish out of water. As the days and months went on, Joe conquered any stigmas that mental illness may have had. As the years went on, he became managing partner of the very large, very successful law firm. He could have given up, but he chose to move forward. In doing so, he helped all of us follow his lead.
“Joe” died a few years ago from cancer.
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