Happy Birthday, Steven Stockdale

I met Steve about 15 years ago, when he and I were working the overnight shift cleaning the Provo Temple.  Yes, wise guy, the temples get cleaned by humans.  Our shift started at 10 and ended about 3am.  Not for the faint of heart, but it paid pretty well and there’s no better work environment.

It’s also fairly slow-paced, so Steve and I got to talk a bit.  I liked him, he liked me, we were interested in many similar things, were about the same age, so we struck up a friendship that has lasted, in one form or another, for a decade and a half.

I’ve hired Steve now, let’s see, at WMA, at the Dark Realm, and the Chris Jones Group.  I could be forgetting one or two other times.  He’s a crappy employee.  I’m one, too, so this is not a slam.  Neither of us are very good at doing the “yessir” thing, especially with people that are incompetent as bosses.  This leads us to get fired a lot, if we ever take jobs, which means that I never take them anymore and Steve only takes them when he can work with me.  I guess he thinks I’m not incompetent, which is high praise coming from him.

In lots of ways, Steve has problems.  He’s a magnet for trouble, especially money trouble.  He’s never gotten married, though that remains a priority.  He can be hard to get along with.  He’s had his share of physical problems (he was hit by a car) that have made his favorite pastime (skiing) more difficult.

He is also the most loyal of friends, one of the hardest-working and most honest men I know.  He keeps himself fit, has attained a skill level at skiing that is hard to appreciate until you see it in action, and he’s one of the best friends a kid can have.  He is exceptionally frugal, and simultaneously very generous.  He’s my friend, and I’m grateful to him.

I am especially grateful to him for one afternoon in the car, when he told me that I was a pompous ass and I needed to knock it off.  In my life, I’ve had three, maybe four friends that were willing to take that kind of risk on my behalf.  Make no mistake, he did it because I needed it, not to make himself feel better.  It didn’t make him feel good at all, mostly because I roundly denied it and told him he was delusional, but he was right.  He was absolutely right.  If you’re a long-timer here, you know that I haven’t ever completely vanquished that personality trait, and yet because he was willing to call me on it, I’ve been able to make some changes.  Changes for the better, I hope.

As we get older, and my family takes up more and more time, it’s harder for us to do a lot of the things we like to do together.  Steve taught me to play golf (though he is NOT to be blamed for the way I play it), but we don’t get to go golfing much.  He taught me to shoot, and we don’t get to do that all that much, either.  We haven’t played ball in a while (his defense drove me crazy).  But we still see each other at work, and he comes over for BYU football and basketball.  For salsa and chips, and barbecues.  Chats about politics and life.  Hauling horse manure.  Good things like that.

I love him like a brother.  I pray for him, and hope like crazy that he gets all the things he wants out of life.  On his birthday, I pray God blesses and watches out for him, and I hope he knows that he’ll always be welcome by our fire.

Happy Birthday, my excellent friend.

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