Rest in Peace, Pedro

One of my co-workers didn’t show up for work two days in a row, without calling, which was unlike him. So my boss and his boss went to his apartment to see if he was okay, and when he didn’t answer the door, they got the maintenance guy to let them in. They stepped inside to find Pedro slumped over, dead in his living room chair.

At first no one knew what happened to Pedro. He’d been at work two days before, cheerful and energetic as always, but later we learned that it was a heart attack. He was 63, but looked younger, and seemed to be in good health. The speculation is that an untreated abscessed tooth lead to his heart attack. The only reason he didn’t get his tooth treated is because he could not afford it.

He lived alone. He was single with no kids. He’d been working at the grocery store for 11 years, since the store opened. I knew him from before I started working there, when I was a regular customer, stopping in after work to grab dinner from the hot bar before heading home.

A week ago I’d become impatient with him. He didn’t know that I was off the clock, and he didn’t know how to do a catering order so he had the new guy page me to help. The customer was rude, and I could’ve been kinder and more helpful. I did help, but begrudgingly, and I told him to page a manager next time. He said to me, “Ella, I did not know you were off the clock,” in such an earnest way, and I did back off a little and I said, “I know — it’s okay,” and I hope I was nicer than I felt. All I cared about was getting to my boyfriend’s house. I hope Pedro forgave me.

Most of my co-workers are such good examples of patience, kindness, and love, and Pedro was the best example of all. Pedro was always a cheerful, kind-hearted man, full of life. He was always helpful to me. He had a flamboyant attitude. He was a dancer, and did Zumba regularly, and sometimes danced at work. He had a heavy Spanish accent, and spoke so quickly I couldn’t understand him, but he just laughed and kept talking. He didn’t cry about his lot in life, he didn’t complain that he made no money. He was always in a good mood.

Pedro, you will be missed. The store will not be the same without you. May you rest in peace.

This song reminds me of Pedro.

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