Michael and Keiko (6&7)

Part VI: The Long Career at Telligent, 1981-2011

Once joining Telligent, Michael never changed jobs again, although internally he was transferred and promoted many times. The green trainee of 1981 would grow to become the manager of a division charged with the testing of new chips fifteen years later.

Michael was an able and generous man. He persuaded his company to give funding to a volunteer group of engineers, mainly made up of Telligent employees, to tutor children whose parents spoke limited English. He was the first coordinator for that program and had been a tutor himself for over 20 years. That after-school program was consistently praised by the media as one the best of its kind in the nation. Telligent’s upper management would often jokingly refer to it as one of their best advertising campaigns. It was also rumored that Michael was paying for a few of those students to go to a local two-year college. Whenever he was confronted with that question, he would give you a broad smile and say something like: “I really can’t comment on it, but I’m glad people are doing it. And we are constantly looking for new donors of course.”

Michael was also a private man. He lived alone in a modest home that he bought three years after he started working for Telligent. It was Michael & Keiko_6_7only about 1,200 square feet in size. It had a nice backyard but no garage. He had lived there ever since. He drove to work every morning in a red Mazda pick-up truck that looked older than its owner. When the second rebuilt engine cracked, his long-time mechanic friend suggested that it was time to trade that piece of antique for an automobile that was a little more appropriate for his station in life. Something like a mid-sized Bimmer or Merk, the mechanic recommended. His reaction was: “This truck is part of me. I can’t get rid of it.” When his job required more and more traveling, he hired a part-time domestic helper and a part-time gardener to take care of his house. He would repeatedly remind the gardener to grow white lilies. He would also ask the domestic helper to pick them when they bloomed and put them on his dinner table. One time the helper asked him why he always wanted only white lilies, he said, “I like them; I don’t get tired of them.”

After a few years at Telligent, he developed a reputation of being a bright, caring, but somewhat eccentric young man. He would loan you a hundred dollars in a flash, but he would not engage in a conversation that was about his family or romantic relationships. Once a friend teased him about it and said, “Mike, with all the money you make, when are you going to find someone special and settle down, man or woman?” “Soon,” Michael said, “Real soon.”

Part VII: Portland, June 10, 2011, 5 a.m., Local Time

Michael woke up with a start. He just had a dream of Keiko. She was wearing a white or light-colored kimono and was calling out to him, and then she faded away.

No….Keiko, no, please….

*** To Be Continued ***

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