Ode to Pugsley

I’ve had good bosses, bad bosses, and in between bosses. I’ve worked  with womanizers, feminists, lazy people, and hard workers. Through all that, I have to say that Craig Pugsley the most genuine, good, and just plain nice person to work with on planet Earth.

When I met Craig, he seemed nice and all, but it didn’t blow me away or anything. Then, throughout orientation week, I began to notice that everyone and their mother were praising the man in some way or another in every other sentence.

“Craig has done amazing things for this park.”

“That Craig…he’s a storyteller.”

“Craig’s such a funny guy.”

“Craig is always there when you need him.”

“I’ve had so many beers with Craig. He’s great.”

Craig is a small, slight man who looks to be in his 50s. His spastic hand gestures paired with his quiet demeanor make him almost adorable. He always covers his balding head with a baseball cap and has a knack for joke telling – if you’re willing to sit through a long story first.

The next week I spent a lot of time away from the office and didn’t see him much. I was about to leave one day, when I heard an excited, “Anne? Is that you?” from down the hallway.

Sure enough, it was Craig. Not only had he (almost) remembered my name amongst the fifty other names he had recently learned, but he was excited to see me because he had noticed that I had been gone for the last few days. He proceeded to ask me about how the job was going in such a way that I knew he genuinely cared and wasn’t just going through the motions – it’s something in about the way that he stares at the floor when he listens. It’s as though he’s looking at a blank area on purpose so that he can soak in every word you’re saying.

Before I could leave the office, he had to tell me the story of how when the office building was being renovated, the staff played a trick on him. They rigged a camera up, pointed it at Craig’s desk, and had someone from Pierre, S.D. call him about something that was very important. It was all a ruse, of course, because in the middle of the phone call, the construction crew sawed right through the wall of Craig’s office with a chainsaw. I’d give anything to see that video.

“Stop by my office and chat sometime,” he told me as I finally left the office.

So the very next day, I did.

I’m used to high-pressure newspaper jobs, so I was blown away when I tried to talk strictly business and Craig chose to ignore that and start talking about how excited he was to see some of the returning seasonal employees. We talked about the dorms, the places I had visited and people we knew in common (because in South Dakota, everybody knows somebody that you know).

Then, when I got up to leave, he offered me a chocolate truffle. He me right then and there – I’m a sucker for chocolate.

A few days later, Amy, one of the seasonal employees who lives in the cabins by me said she had been invited to dinner at Craig’s house. He was an old family friend, but she took me along for the ride and a free meal.

The first thing that struck me as we pulled up to Craig’s large suburban home was his shirt that read “Life is Crap,” with an empty beer keg above it. He took us out back and treated us like family – he introduced me to Spotted Cow beer (his favorite), grilled some burgers and introduced us to his son and a few other friends who were also at his cookout.

And throughout the entire night, he told stories.

Craig has this knack of going from one story to another without stopping, so that you’re halfway into another story before you realize he finished the first one. He told us about a former park employee who would come into his office and talk about her sex life, which he didn’t appreciate. That same employee got pregnant with triplets and called Craig when her water broke. He then ended up in the delivery room while she had a C-section, and he just happened to know the anesthesiologist. He told us that doctors kept trying to make him sign things and he had to tell them, “I’m not the father!”

That’s just the thing – even though he wasn’t the father and he wasn’t related in any way, he went out of his way to help out a friend who needed him.

And the fact that he was wearing a “Life is Crap” shirt while telling this story made it even better. I kept picturing a doctor walking up to him in the delivering room and going, “Are you the father?” at which point Craig would turn around in his “Life is Crap” shirt and say, “Hell no!”

I don’t mean to sound like an obsessed stalker; I just think Internet-Land should know how awesome this guy is. If one day I could be half as awesome as Craig Pugsley, I hope somebody puts it on their blog.

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2 thoughts on “Ode to Pugsley

  1. People like that will leave a mark in your life forever. You will never forget them and you will forever be inspired by them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I hope to meet him someday on one of our trips to the park.

  2. Pingback: Kindness | The Buffalo Diaries

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