29 April 2002

"He's not really gone, as long as we remember him..." - Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy

I've been a paramedic for almost fifteen years. I've seen death first-hand in most of its forms and experienced the passings of both strangers and those I've considered close to me innumerable times. None of this made Friday morning any easier [or today, for that matter].

The reality of George's passing is revealed in a myriad of small things: - the closed and locked office door across the way - the lack of inquiries about the WIC card awaiting RMA on my desk - the empty couch - the periodic peeking into my office to see if Brni was in here - the lack of almost-daily requests for patch cables of different sizes

Add to this list a thousand tiny silences from missing contributions to the ambient sound found in any place where people work closely together.

My strongest impressions and memories of George Robbins are those of mentor and teacher. It'd be easy to picture him as a mountaintop guru somewhere in another life, and not just because of the long gray hair. George was both a patient listener and a patient teacher, and in a world where 'zero defects' has all but become a mantra, George displayed what seemed like superhuman patience on many an occasion. I can say in blunt honesty that 90 percent of the knowledge and skills I possess related to my job at Netaxs were imparted by George [sometimes multiple times, based on my inattentiveness and/or forgetfulness]. There was always something more to learn from George, something more worth listening to, and it is the stilling of his voice that is a loss for us all.

Bits, pieces and fragments of memories:

- Opening night: Just prior to the opening of our current facility I made comments to George about looking like a skate guard with the keycard lanyard, polo shirt and dark pants. It was at this point that he challenged me to have my skates on hand and then to put them on and 'skate Netaxs', as it were. Somewhere around there are pix of the two of us at different times skating around the place.

- Flying: On one late-night trip down to DC George told me about his pilot's license and how he used to fly out of New Garden Airport back when he worked at Commodore.

- Sunday nights: Back when I worked Sunday middle shifts in the NOC, George would be temporarily unreachable while in transit to/from the Palace in NE Philly to go skating. He'd almost invariably show up at the NOC after his skating session though, often to fix things beyond the scope of abilities of this NOC monkey.

- Improvisation: George Robbins was, above all else, a master of improvisation. The pix from March provide a small glimmer of this. Innumerable times I'd call George for advice or a suggestion for something or other that I was working on offsite. After listening to me vent he'd never fail to come up with some sort of improvised solution that seemed to work almost 100 percent of the time. That other one percent wasn't a failure on his part but usually a lack of observation on mine.

I've never been a religious nor a spiritual man, and I never had any sort of faith or belief-based discussion with George, but it is my fervent hope that he has gone to wherever good men go within his belief-set...

Slán abhaile, George.
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