I never intended to have a “9 to 5” desk job. If you asked me at twenty, or even when I was thirty years old, I had every intention of being in the music business. Once it became too painful to play drums on a normal basis, I was undaunted; I still planned to be in the music business, be it through radio, managing bands, or working in a recording studio.
In 2001, I left radio. I was twenty-eight, burned out and drinking way too much. In 2004, the band I managed split up, and in 2005, the recording studio where I worked closed its doors permanently, a victim of The Pro-Tools Revolution.
That’s how I came to find myself in late 2005, nearly broke with lots of debt and no real employment prospects. One Sunday, my mom saw an ad for ComputerTraining.com, a technical school that trained people in Microsoft with a goal of working toward Microsoft certifications. She said ‘You should try that.’ Since I didn’t have anything else going on, one night I took their ‘entrance test’ online. It was so elementary I thought it was a joke (Sample question: Click on the Folder Icon), but I passed with a perfect score, which meant I ‘qualified’ for an interview. I scheduled it and soon realized that everyone passed the entrance test and the people in charge were more than happy to help you run up a debt to Sallie Mae. That being said, I enrolled in the six month class that met twice a week for four hours a night and did pretty well. I earned a few Microsoft Certifications, which, if nothing else, looked very impressive on my resume.
As I began to ready for job interviews, I cut my hair for the first time since 1992. When I walked out of the barbershop, knowing that a ‘9 to 5 desk job’ was my next target, I said loudly to myself, ‘You win dad!’ He’d been gone for four years, but I know he would’ve gotten a kick seeing me walk the same path he treaded for decades after I spent my entire youth disparaging it.
After finishing the class in March 2006 and searching for four months for work, I happened to hear that there was a position open at Anthem, which was quite literally, just around the corner from where I lived at the time. It was for a three-week contract, but it was a foot in the door. I worked that month of July, assuming that would be it and I would then go on to the next job. After that contract ended, someone handed my resume to Frank Creasy, and on a September morning, he phoned me up.
“Hi. Saw your resume. I see that you worked here in the Call Center in July. Are you looking for work?
“Good. Can you start tomorrow?”
That’s how I came to know Frank Creasy.
December 31st will be his last day at Anthem. I have worked with him from 2006-2012 and then 2014-15, and no matter how maddening the daily grind became (and some days were the pits) I knew that Frank had my back and we would get through whatever the crisis of the moment was. I have had a few bosses in my various careers, but Frank was the first one who truly appreciated music lyric references in emails and conference calls, and my favorite Frank Creasy story involves a time when I was one of the few who got his reference to a lyric:
In 2008, Frank decided to promote a contract employee to an associate, meaning the person would get PTO and benefits. Since this person had already worked with us for months as a contractor and we knew him well, the subject line of an email sent to many people in the company to announce the change was ‘Hello, it’s me.’ I knew immediately that this was a reference to the 1972 song by Todd Rundgren. One of the ‘higher-ups’ at Anthem though, was clearly confused, replying to everyone “Glad _____________ has been hired, but can someone please explain what the hell Frank is talking about?’ I replied with an email to all about the song, how Todd Rundgren was former lead singer for The Nazz and produced Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ album. The ‘higher up’ still had no idea what the song was, or who Rundgren was, but he knew Meat Loaf, (because really, who doesn’t know Meat Loaf?’
That is but one small example of why I will miss Frank. I will miss his ability to quote William Shakespeare, John Wooden and The Rolling Stones in the same meeting, sometimes within minutes of each other. I’ll always be grateful he had me along for a ‘work conference’ in Vegas where I got to see ‘Beatles LOVE’ and win $350 on one spin of the roulette wheel.
In 2011, I was the project lead for an implementation, which meant Frank and I were on many of the same conference calls. Since we were the only two on the project from Virginia, the leader of the meetings usually referred to us in tandem as ‘Frank & Barry’ which, when said quickly, sounds very much like my favorite cereal from my childhood. This always caused me to giggle and, it was a constant battle not to burst out laughing when we were both called upon.
He’s also the reason I no longer say “No problem” in response to anything, but especially when someone says “Thank you.”
Frank had enough faith in me to hire me, even more than I had in myself at the start, and I excelled under his leadership. I knew I had a great boss almost as soon as I started working for him. The biggest bonus wasn’t monetary, it was that I gained a dear friend, and that was never more evident than when he called me in September 2014. I had returned from living in Atlanta, I was almost broke and very sick.
He asked, “Are you looking for work?”
Truthfully I wasn’t, but I knew enough to listen to whatever he had to say. That led to my current position at Anthem, and I am so glad “Frank & Barry” got to have a second act.
It has been a pleasure having you as a boss, but it means far more to know you are a dear friend. I’ll see you on stage and around town. You may be leaning Anthem, but you’re not getting rid of me that easily.
I truly can’t wait to see what you do next. It’s gonna be fantastic!