Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ELEGY FOR S-MAN

Steve Swatt, circa 1986 in his office at Fine Arts 1 & 2.

It is with a heavy heart and mind that I eulogize Steve Swatt, a dear friend, former boss,  superb mentor, snd  utterly kind and selfless soul whose presence as my only positive elder male role model was immeasurably appreciated during my turbulent and troubled teen years. 

Even though I  would report to work at the Fine Arts 1 & 2 movie showcase to work nearly seven days per week in order to avoid the dysfunction of my own home life during high school and later during college breaks, I was always relieved to show up because Steve fostered a work team and environment that was in every way a family, with himself as the kindest and most loving of big brother/father figures, which was exactly what this deeply unhappy youth needed at the time. He was always gracious, dryly hilarious, loved the movies, and instilled a sense of pride and professionalism in all of us who worked with him. You'll note that I say we worked "with" him, not "for him," as he was the rarest of the rare: a boss who never once lorded it over his employees, acting without a shred of power-tripping bullshit, rude histrionics, or a sense of entitlement. He led by example and in doing so he taught all of us how to be better human beings going forward. And though I loathed my hometown and avoided it like unshielded radium upon finally getting out of there, I always stopped by Fine Arts 1 & 2 to see Swatt and absorb some of his positivity while briefly in town. If I'd stayed in the area, he would have been a fixture at my home as often as possible.

Steve Swatt treated all of his employees as if we were his doted-upon children, spoiling us rotten when the opportunity arose, and in many cases becoming a beloved friend to us and to our families. My mother, not exactly a woman known for her general love of humanity, held him in the highest of regard, and during my years of working with him on the holidays, she insisted upon making him massive plates of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as a sign of appreciation for his treatment of me (she was very much aware of my affection and respect for the man and how important that was to me), for his treatment of her in our hostile town whenever she attended  a movie (which he always let her into for free), and as an acknowledgement of him simply being a rare person of genuine goodness and humble worth in a community rife with people  she would not have pissed on if they were on fire.

I could go on for days with hilarious and/or touching reminiscences about Steve Swatt but no amount of retelling can bring him back from his seat at the table in cinematic Valhalla to give us one of his quiet, squinty-eyed smiles just one more time, so I bid him the well-earned eternal rest that he so richly deserves. He was a much-beloved friend and humble hero to me, and I will never, ever forget him. This sorry world is that much poorer without him. 

Requiescat en pace, Steve Swatt. You were rarer than tits on a trout.

Circa 2001: The last time I saw Steve, with fellow Swatt friend/family/disciple Kevin Slater.

No comments: