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Life and Lemons

As I do most every morning, this past Friday, I glanced through e-mails and social media to see what was happening around the world, and what the folks with whom I’m connected were up to. After exercising my freedom of choice with the junk, I perused the remaining messages and social sites. A LinkedIn posting caught my eye. The post contained a quote that related to employee treatment and company success from management consultant, educator, and author, Peter Drucker: “Loyal employees are not lemons. You do not squeeze the juice and throw them away.”

Considering Mr. Drucker’s advice, I wondered whether any of my prior employers had treated me like a lemon. Two instances of corporate downsizing came to mind. I remembered feeling rather squished and tossed aside at the time of each occasion. In both cases, however, the layoffs prompted new employment and life opportunities that worked out well––for the better, in fact. My disappointment proved temporary––just another bump in the road.

I leaned back in my chair. My writer’s brain wandered (as it often does). Recollections from Thursday evening and from this past September mingled with my string of thoughts and created pause.

In September, my high school graduating class and I celebrated our fifty-year reunion.  As my blog 50 YEARS LATER (9/24/17) indicated, in high school, I was not recognized as a social success story. At the reunion, however, that didn’t matter. Folks I hadn’t seen since 1967 openly shared hugs and stories as if we’d never parted ways. It was amazing.

Because the reunion proved enjoyable for all who attended, some of my former classmates decided to keep a good thing going. Thursday evening, I gathered with nearly twenty alumni for the first of what we all hoped would evolve into monthly gatherings. Once more, any evidence of prior social cliques had vanished. Everyone talked freely and equally, as if we were old pals––older for sure, but fifty years ago, not really pals—or were we?

Although I’m still not a chatterbox, age (a.k.a. maturity) has encouraged a more unreserved demeanor. Conversing with classmates I rarely spoke to outside of a classroom had become easy and gratifying. Previously the lone wolf, I was accepted as part of the pack.

My reflections about reminiscing with classmates expanded to other people from my past, which spawned another thought. Wouldn’t Peter Drucker’s quote about employees apply to friendships––or any serious relationships––equally as well?

Loyal friends are not lemons. You do not squeeze the juice and throw them away.

The revision made perfect sense. But it also inspired another question. Had I viewed my former classmates or anyone throughout my life as disposable citrus? Had I allowed petty inhibitions to interfere with an opportunity to establish lasting companionships?

Many things, such as time and distance influence relationships. I believe the good ones are like the seasons: Although they may come and go, they are seldom forgotten. Whether or not my actions fifty years ago or at any time were intentional or something else is irrelevant. Given a second-chance at recovering misplaced friendship, I don’t intend to blow it again.

To folks I’ve crossed paths with in my past or present, if you feel as though I treated you like a lemon, please, accept my sincere apology. I know better, now.

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