I mentioned the other day that a new group had formed on FaceBook for Alumni of EDS. It has been amazing to see the group grow and I am enjoying getting reconnected with old friends from this amazing company.
Many have shared they memories and experiences and I thought I would post this experience of mine on my blog.
I will share another memorable experience from my 29 years with EDS.
One of the things I always appreciated about EDS was the support given to employees in time of need. I saw and received this support many times during my career.
While I was managing a group in the VIABLE account, I had an employee named Clara. She was a delightful lady and always had a smile on her face. Every morning she would stop by my office just to say hi and wish me a good day.
One day, I was notified that Clara’s mother had died in Georgia and that she was going to the funeral and needed to take some days off to take care of family matters.
EDS had an unwritten tradition of always having management at the funerals of close family members of employees.
I got the directions of the funeral and date and time and made arrangements to attend. I had to fly to Atlanta and rent a car and drive about thirty miles to a smaller town. I checked into my motel and then drove to a rural area where the family home was.
The funeral was the next day, but I felt I should pay my respects, see if Clara needed anything and let her know that I was there.
The house was fairly easy to find because of all the cars parked along the road. I knocked on the door and a family member answered the knock. I explained I was with EDS and there to support Clara at this sad occasion. Clara came to the door and while sad, broke out in a big smile and gave me a hug and thanked me for being there.
She asked me to come in and have some food that friends and family had brought. Having grown up in a rural area in Oklahoma, I was vary familiar with all of the support families provided those in mourning.
I told Clara I would be at the funeral tomorrow, but would let her visit with her family and friends, and I returned to my motel.
The next morning I got up early to make sure I could find the church and cemetery. I planned on getting there 30 minutes early because I didn’t want to get lost.
I found the church without problem and was directed where to park. I had several people come to my car and I explained I was Clara’s manager and had come from Virginia to pay my respect and provide support for Clara.
When they learned I was Clara’s manager, from the company that Clara had spoken so highly about, they told me the church would probably be full and for me to follow them and they would make sure I got a seat.
I was lead to the back of the church and escorted to a seating area on the left side. Directly in front of me was the minister’s pulpit and behind that was an area for the choir.
I felt very self-conscious for getting all the special attention and was even asked if I wanted to address the congregation. I said, thanks, but no, I was just her to show respect and support Clara.
Clara was my only black employee and I was now the only white person at her mother’s funeral. The church probably held a couple hundred people and was packed, with many people outside for the lack of seats.
There was singing, crying, stories of friendship and loss. It a was joyous occasion on a sad day. Following the church service, everyone walked to the cemetery. Clara made sure I walked with her.
Following the burial service, I told Clara to take the time she needed and to call me if she needed me to do anything. I turned to walk to my car and was greeted by a throng of attendees that wanted to shake my hand and thank me for taking to time to come to the funeral.
No one could believe that a company would show such respect for one of its employees.
Funerals are never enjoyable for me, but this one was different. It left an indelible mark that reminded how small things are often worth a lot more than money.
I have worked for several well known companies, but none to compare with EDS.