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Perspective: The best boss I ever had

Pablo Varela

In the summer of 1981, the unemployment rate of Polk County, Florida topped 20%. So when the state employment agency sent me to a minimum wage job at a local tourist attraction, I accepted.

I found myself cooking barbecue, steaming in a food stand without the benefit of air conditioning. When I wasn’t cooking, I waited on customers. It was back-breaking, exhausting work.

But I also have very fond memories of this job, mainly because of Buv. He was my manager— the best one I’ve ever had. Buv had heavy burdens to carry in his personal life, as I found out from a co-worker. But he never spoke of them and was unfailingly kind at all times.

Buv always seemed to show up when he was most needed. When the line of customers grew long, Buv started to cook. When food was spilled on the floor, Buv was there with a mop. No task was beneath Buv—he was always there to support his staff.

When I was sick one day, he put his arm around my shoulder and then sent me home. Knowing Buv, he probably covered the rest of my shift.

In this era of over-worked employees stretched to their limit, some quietly quitting and others literally quitting — I often think of Buv. The Gallup analytics and consulting firm found that one of the keys to employee retention is an empathetic boss. It’s my personal belief that what the work world need now is Buv.

Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan is a teacher-librarian at Auburn High School in Rockford.