What a Strange Coincidence

Many years ago, somewhere in the mid-80s, I was selected as one of the winners of the SPRB/Society of Professional Relationship Bankers award in Citi’s New York Banking’s Operations Division.

All winners went on 1 of 2 semi-annual trips…a 4-day, 3-night, all-expenses-paid excursion to a beautiful resort! We were all allowed to bring along our spouse/guest & it became a great opportunity to get to know other Citi couples on the trip. All in, there were ~100 people who went.

This time, we went to the gorgeous Royal Marriott Beach Resort in Barbados, down in the Caribbean!

Laurie & I had also gone on the very first SPRB trip in the early ‘80s to New Orleans & had an absolute blast in the Crescent City.

We were REALLY looking forward to this trip!

And as fate would have it, this whole excursion surpassed even our wildest dreams!!! It was tremendous!

A fancy 7-course private dinner with our senior Ops leader, Joe Redington III (JJR), his lovely wife & 7 other lucky couples, at this luxurious nearby castle.

Yes, castle!

A fun evening & BBQ right on the beach, with lots of music & dancing…and even a few refreshments to boot!

But, perhaps, the highlight of the 4-day weekend was a planned trip to the Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise on the other side of the island.

The bus trip (probably about 30 mins long) was an experience, in & of itself. We got a see the “real part of the island”, aside from all the fancy hotels & resorts.

I’d never seen a goat tied to a long string & a pole in the ground…this was the Barbadian way for the common folk to both get milk as well as mow their lawn.

Quite interesting & informative, to say the very least.

We finally arrived at our destination & boarded the pirate ship.

Yep, it was a “real” pirate ship!

And I tell ya, mateys, we scoundrels had one great time aboard!

We got to meet & interact with more of the Citi couples. I only previously knew a few of the other Citibankers on the trip so this was a wonderful opportunity to make new friends, even if only for the weekend.

Everyone had a ball!

There was food & refreshments & various games & shows!

At one point, they asked for a volunteer from the audience to walk the plank as “we had been bad & the Captain was mad”…so, of course, Laurie volunteered.

She was never the bashful one.

They “tied” her hands behind her back & yes, made her walk the plank!

Even provided a little, er, encouragement with the sharp end of the sword.

Into the water she dropped, straight down to Dave Jones’ locker!

Everything was so much fun & everyone truly had a great time!

Fast forward to about 10 years later…

We’re now down in San Antonio, TX after relocating from NY & migrating Citi’s Retirement Plan Services division to the new centralized Citibanking service center.

Laurie & I just happened to be going through a bunch of boxes one afternoon (we literally had picked up our lives, sold our home in Staten Island, and, along with our 9 year old daughter, Heather, relocated to this beautiful city).

We come across a whole bunch of pictures!

Pls note, boys & girls…this was before the age of cell phones & all your pictures being stored digitally on your phone &/or on-line.

We pick up picture after picture and reminisce about where we were & what we were doing at that particular time & place.

Then we see this one particular photo…

“Ah, this must be when we went to Barbados, on the Jolly Roger ship!”

In fact, there were a number of pictures from that particular afternoon, including Laurie being led out onto the plank & dropping into the ocean. We were having such a great time reminiscing!

We see another picture of us sitting on the cruise ship…and, suddenly, something catches my eye!

Oh, my God, look at this!

To the left of us sat a nice couple who we really didn’t know on the trip. It turned out to be Dan Owczar & his lovely wife, Kathleen.

On the other side was another couple whom we’d just met on the trip, Larry & Gladys Holstein.

Here we are, looking at pictures from ~10 years prior, and our jaws just drop to the floor!

(Thank God we had nice carpeting!)

Dan’s been my boss for a couple of years now (back in NY & here in San Antonio) & we were worked on a number of projects together before that. And since moving here, we’ve become great personal friends with him & Kathleen!

Dan’s passed on & I had the distinct pleasure…and honor…of eulogizing him at the service here in San Antonio.

(Kathleen called upon me as the priest asked if anyone wanted to say something. I was completely caught by surprise!

Somehow, I just started talking about me & Dan & how different, yet similar, we were in how we went about our business. Polar opposites in approach, style & tactics…no doubt about it!

But definitely of one mind, heart & soul when it came to our goals & our people.

We took different roads, no doubt, but aimed for the same destination.)

20 minutes later, I’d finished what I wanted to say & truly felt l like I left my heart open for everyone to see.)

And Larry is the Compliance Officer for Retirement Plan Services. He & Gladys moved into the same subdivision as us and we’re all now wonderful friends. We even bowl together in a Tuesday night league!

And to think that we all sat together 10 years earlier & while they certainly knew each other (as Larry worked for Dan), they didn’t know me from Adam & I had never even heard of either one of them.

When I brought in the picture to work on Monday to show them, we all had a great laugh!

Note: Since then, Laurie, Dan & Gladys have all passed on, but I’m sure they’re still reminiscing about all our good times together as they sail on that big Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise up in the sky!

God bless.

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