I have a friend whom I have known for a number of years. He called me one day right out of the blue and told me he read my Publisher's Letters. He told me how much he enjoyed them and asked me if I played golf. I told him I did, and he asked me to play a round with him and a few of his buddies one day, and so I did.
One way I try to get a read on people is to see how they treat people of lesser station. This guy treated everybody with great respect and gentleness. I've played golf with him frequently since and we have become good friends. His company has enjoyed absolutely incredible success, but he never boasts or gloats about it, though he does show great pride in the accomplishments of colleagues, friends and family. He has a great sense of humor and a solid grasp of right and wrong. I am lucky to be able to call him my friend.
This man is a member of my personal hall of fame. It is made up of the people who have great integrity and values with whom I love to spend time. They may never get elected to an industry hall of fame, but they are people who love to compete but do so fairly. They also love to spend time with others and give of themselves.
Recently, I wrote a column that mentioned something this friend had done, and I wanted to tell you more about it. He told me he was about to be involved in an "intervention," but we were teeing off to play some golf and I wasn't sure to what he was referring. Later he gave me more details and this is what he said: "This fellow has been a good friend of mine for some time and he is very talented, but his wife is a wreck because of his drinking. I'm afraid he's about to lose his wife and if that were to happen, both she and he would be devastated because they are so dependent on each other. The guy's business is in jeopardy, too. He's losing customers left and right, and he's treating his people badly. Things keep getting worse and worse, but because of his drinking he doesn't see it. It is so sad to watch. Two of his friends and myself have come to the conclusion we have to intervene. We've done our homework. We've talked to a psychiatrist about him; we've talked to family members, including his wife; we've talked to the recovery center out of town that would receive him if he agrees to go. I believe we've done everything we can, but we are nervous because we don't know how he'll react. We are going to visit with him on Sunday while his wife is out of the house."
I've left some details out because I don't want to embarrass anyone, but the Sunday meeting took place. Each of the man's friends told him how much they loved him, but that he was hurting his colleagues, his friends and, most importantly, his loved ones. The report I got from my friend who led the intervention was that there were a lot of tears and that the fellow resisted initially because he felt he "had everything under control." He was disabused of that notion quickly and was driven to a local airport where he was put on a private plane that took him to the recovery center. He's been there for more than two weeks. We're all keeping our fingers crossed, but think how lucky this individual was to have such great friends who went out of their way to help him.
I also know that my personal friend was the one who made this happen by picking up a large portion of the expenses. Instead of believing that the man he had helped was lucky, my friend says he is blessed to have been able to come to the aid of someone dear to him, which says so much about his character.
Too often friends are reticent to intervene in another friend's life out of respect or embarrassment. But if you are truly a friend and you see someone you love and respect destroying not only his or her life but others' as well, it's your duty to try to help. After all, what are friends for?
My friend is always trying to help others. I've heard many stories about his generosity and his quiet, unassuming manner in making sure someone who is ill and needs funds is taken care of. It is his style, it is his charm and it is what makes him so special. Who wouldn't give anything to have just one friend like him?
The thing about friendship is that it is a two-way street. To have such a friend you have to be willing to reach out so they know you are there. Friendship is a special concept that involves the depth of feeling revealed in the story I just recounted. There's no guarantee the man in the substance-abuse facility will stay sober, but without the intervention, he would never have stood a chance.
P.S. I wanted to update you on a situation I discussed in my July 12 column (p. 26). Katie Margolis, the stepdaughter of former American Hospital Association Chairman Fred Brown, has received her long-awaited kidney transplant. Right now everything is looking good, but these are tricky situations, so our thoughts are with her and her family.
Helping others is true friendship,