We were going down as a team.
At least we could finally tell Lynn Schultz-Writsel, our recently retired boss here at Marketing and Communications, why we — and eventually she — had all been so sick for about two weeks.
See, she’d been irked at us from time to time for what she felt was a lack of communication … among the members of a communications team, for heaven’s sake! She would communicate her disappointment with great clarity and vigor. (Every so often she’d have a point — she was all “silo” this and “silo” that. You know, you get busy, bear down, focus on the task at hand, and pretty soon you’re so busy killing alligators that you forget you’re there to drain the swamp.* But we’ve been working on it.)
Well, Lynn’s last day at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing was fast approaching and, as a team, we brainstormed a proper tribute to convey our gratitude and warm wishes. Well, for those I haven’t blabbed about it to, I’ve got a print shop that gobbles up much of my spare time. I’d call it an old-timey print shop, but I guess that would make me old-timey too. (The machines were all born at least a little before I was, so not one of them dares to tease me.)
Wouldn’t it be fun — the guy with the print shop thought — if we all made a poster together? It would show Lynn how we’d gelled as a team. The poster wouldn’t work if we didn’t all pull together, fight through any issues elbow to elbow. What better example of her leadership?
Here’s how it would work: Some of us could print the background (we inked up an old board to create a wood grain pattern), and some could print stars (we each drew a star, someone cut them all out, and the “negative space” of the holes left a ghostly white pattern — old-timey printer trick). Others could print the wood type headlines and some the lead type “Wisdom of Lynn” sayings and the photos that finished off the joke. In truth, everybody printed a few of everything, and it came out kind of like this (that’s her at the top, us below, cowboys … oh, and a bear):
We all used the same printing presses, touching the same germy handles over and over and over. Within 48 hours, the Creepin’ Crud — as my mom used to call it — had all but the luckiest among us in its clutches. Lynn too. Won’t name names on the Typhoid Mary of the bunch. Ahem. But I was a bit worried that the next thing we’d be printing was obituaries.
So, at Lynn’s going-away party, we spilled the beans — and far fewer microbes than we’d been spreading, thank goodness — as we presented a framed version of the poster. “See?” we said. “No silos.”
We’ll slip. We’ll silo again. We’re human. And we know just what to do on that day when our new boss, Chris Godack, starts giving us grief about it. “Hey, guys. I now where there are a bunch of printing presses … and sterile gloves.”
*One of Lynn’s favorite sayings — we inexplicably had a hard time capturing the exact words to her oft-repeated gems. The emotions of the moment, perhaps … she was a cool boss.
-Steve St. Angelo
P.S: Here’s a little video somebody made about our “modern” old-timey-ness.