Monday, January 5, 2009

Letter From An Ex-Colleague

I recently received a letter from a girl I worked with at CNBC. She was my News Assistant - bottom of the food chain, treated like dirt and paid a pittance. I recently reconnected with her and she told me she had good memories of me, which surprised me. I thought nobody at CNBC liked me because I annoyed people with my expectations and requests.

People were always complaining about me and once, I almost got fired for working my team too hard and expecting perfection. I was baffled. This letter from my colleague made all those bad memories fade away so I wanted to include it in my blog for Toby and Josie to read some day.

This is the letter from my ex-colleague:

I remembered how you were always very determined to get things done right. When there were times somebody said something couldn't be done, you were going to find out why even if it meant we had to tread through uncomfortable waters.

I would be shaking my head and thinking, "Oh no, no one's going to like her very much because she's being way too insistent and people don't usually like it when they're told they're trying to take short cuts. And that was what it usually was. You said it like it was because the product mattered. The work got done well and I learned. People had to be responsible for their work.

I think you were able to do that because you had truth on your side. You also had a curious innocence because I realised it wasn't because you were trying to corner anyone -- you just wanted them to do what they should have been doing.

Once, I remember, I came to you saying something about how one of the editors refused to make a correction in one of our packages [TV news reports] because of some reason or other. You were puzzled and didn't think the worst of them. You were just genuinely perplexed.

You said, "Let's find out why he can't and make it happen for us." You got up then and there and confronted the dude! Haha. I remember thinking, "Wow she has balls." If it had been me, I would have dropped it and bitched about how folks are just lazy.

When X and Y told me about your blog entries and how you were battling it, I remember thinking, yes, that's Shin. Yep, Shin. No sulking, no pouting, no blaming anyone -- you handled it for what it was.

I remember you were clinical but also passionate. Very unusual attributes. You used to tell me honestly what you felt I was doing wrong and I never felt like you were attacking me or putting me down. It was that straight-forwardness... that honesty I remember the most. Not many people listened to me then. You did.

Oh Shin, I remember how to not be afraid when I was doing interviews. How excited you were when I told you that I was having fun. You showed me how to write better. How to think TV and how to even schmooze! It was all done with a frankness that was refreshing for me.

In life, I think, not many people get an opportunity to express how they really feel about someone. I am glad I have this chance. The cancer, the fact that you are dying allows me to say what I've always felt and carried with me. It's sad that it has to be this way... but it does not discount my true feelings.

I'm not saying all of this just to be nice or make you feel better. This is also for me. Your kids should know what a remarkable woman you are. I'm sure you have your frailties, your vulnerabilities and your whatever it is... your flaws. Everyone does. But I know only one Shin Na. And that Shin Na taught me a lot about how to cut through all the crap and see things for what they really are.

I know I should have said all these things before you left CNBC! But how could I? Maybe I didn't have the words then. Maybe I didn't realise the impact until after you had left CNBC. Maybe I didn't think it was important.

Z came to take your place [after you left CNBC] -- and boy, it was hard adjusting to that! She was a lovely person but goodness gracious -- they were hard on her and she didn't know me from jack. It was awkward. Back to being with people more occupied with niceties; they end up being meaner than they probably mean to be. And I wasn't very good with communicating. Insecure, maybe.

You know Shin, there are a lot of people out there who've known you and are following your blog entries. They might not write but I believe some of them probably think the way I do -- that's the Shin I know. Feisty. Brave. Curious and almost unnervingly innocent.

I haven't been honest about so many things in my life... so, this hits home. You are the genuine article. Tell your kids that's what this friend sees.

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