Something David Letterman said during his penultimate show last night resonated with me so much that here I am, writing about it now, a day later and only an hour after he took his final curtain call.
Yesterday, Dave told a story of a time he asked his young son, "Harry, what are the two most important things to know in the world?", to which his son immediately responded with the first, "You have to be nice to people."
"You have to be nice to people." What a wonder father that man must be to have taught his son such a beautiful lesson.
David Letterman has been on television longer than I've been alive. He accomplished such a feat of longevity, obviously not alone, but surrounded by a team of incredibly passionate, talented people. He said as much tonight - that the successes of the show are as much a result, if not more so, of the people behind the scenes - the stagehands, the musicians, the writers...
I've been lucky enough to have been a part of a few teams not entirely dissimilar. Each time, we were a group of dedicated individuals who valued the importance of the team dynamic. Good moments were made sweeter because we experienced them together, and bad moments were more easily endured because we were there for one another through them.
"You have to be nice to people." The two teams I speak of no longer exist because two people decided not to be nice to their brethren.
I don't mean to say that Greg and Kent are bad guys, but merely that they are a couple of shortsighted human beings whose successes will never be on the level of someone like David Letterman. Why? They don't value people. There's no amount of money that one can throw at a problem that can't be solved quicker and more effectively than with a team posessing real emotional dedication to the task at hand. Kent, Tim, and I had that. Kent, Anne, and I had that. Then Greg stepped in and singled us out - he bullied us individully with no regard for the value of the team... with no regard for the way we worked together: complimenting each other's strengths and compensating for each other's weaknesses. And meanwhile Kent sat idly by, paralyzed by the effects of grief, stress, and toxic friendships with those who had the power to manipulate him. Machiavelli would have had a field day.
Now those teams are no more. Kent, whom I used to consider a surrogate father, is now someone who doesn't speak to me. Anne, who along with myself and a handful of others could be considered the closest friends to Kent's late daughter is today in much the same position, having gone from being one of the most valued collaborators to being ostracized. She and I are outsiders now. We've been "Eighty-sixed," to use Greg's own words.
Am I young? Yes. Am I often hotheaded? Yes. Did I screw up once in a while? You bet your ass I did.
But was I of value? Was I a dedicated, passionate member of a team? Ask around, it'll be a resounding "yes".
"You have to be nice to people." If David Letterman teaches us anything, it's that Greg and Kent are worse role models, worse businessmen, and worse fathers, for not having the compassion or will to be nice to people. And I'm not angry any longer. I simply pity them because the interests they damage the most are their own.
Oh, the second important thing to know in the this world that Dave taught his son? "The greatest songwriter of modern times is Bob Dylan."
What a man. What a dad.