I was dating someone recently and invited him to a work event. He met a lot of the muckety mucks at my company, including the owner. I raved to my date about working at my company and how the owner makes everyone feel valued. I talked about how generous the owner was, how he supports his employees, how he's such a good father and good husband, among other things. I explained how he is a good man. My date looked at me stupefied, as if he'd never heard the term or didn't know what a good man is. Maybe he was waiting for me to say that he was a good man (which I never did, because I didn't think he was a good man, ummm, hello, we're not dating anymore) or maybe he's never been in the presence of a good man. But I have. And when you compare these good men with all the other men out there, the differences are so obvious.
I've had the good fortune to first work for a good man when I clerked for a federal judge. He mentored me and taught me so many things that a young lawyer needs to know. And besides that, beyond our working relationship he cared about me as a person. He asked about my life, my family, my interests. When I was robbed in a Walgreens parking lot, he gave me money after I came to work the next day and started hysterically crying in his chambers. He said "you're not going home tonight." My judge and his wife brought me home to their house. They cooked me dinner and let me sleep in their daughter's room. I made it through that terrible time because I had him as part of my support system. I later learned that my judge told his own daughter that he enjoyed working with me during my clerkship year. He told her that it was like coming to work with his daughter everyday. It was a great compliment to hear.
That clerkship set the bar high for good bosses. I didn't get another boss like that until my current job. It took 10 years. My current boss is a father of 6. Four of his children are daughters. He is a brilliant attorney, a former naval officer, a good husband and an all around good man. I can't get over it. He never ceases to amaze me with his kindness and his praise. I feel so lucky to work for him and for the owners of my company, who are just as incredible. For example, this weekend before the writing conference my boss sent me a good luck email...in all caps. And on Saturday, the company's owner sent me a text asking me how things were going. In that text he told me how much he believes in me and how he thinks I'm a good writer. I've never worked at a place like that--a place full of such good men.
And then of course there was my father. The good man who raised me. The good man who I wish was still here. The good man who got what I was talking about. The good man who got me.
Maybe this is why I haven't found the right guy yet. I'm holding out for a good one. I'm waiting for someone who's like all these good men I'm so lucky to be surrounded by: someone who will care about me when I'm sick, by asking me if I'm feeling ok and by bringing over chicken soup or ice cream; someone who will support my dreams as much as his own; someone who loves his family and speaks highly of them to others; someone who's not afraid to dole out compliments to others because he's secure enough; and someone who wants to see the people who work for him succeed.
I don't think these qualities are that unreasonable to expect a man to have. But the way that guy I was dating scrunched up his face as I listed the owner's good-man-qualities made me rethink things. My date was basically asking what's the big deal?, and why do you think those things are so important? I'll tell you why, because I believe in character and integrity. Being a good man, like being a good woman (like being a good person, actually) is about how all those little things add up over time. You don't get to be called good man because you do one kind thing one time in front of an audience. Most of the time the things that make a man a good man is because of how he acts when no ones is watching. Maybe that guy I dated was waiting to hit his stride. My advice: hurry up. Life's too short. And by the way scrunched-up-face-man, you've got a long way to go.