We barely fit in the hotel room. I sit on the floor between beds, leaving room for others to sit on a bed or on one of the few chairs available. Still not enough room and others follow my lead and sit on the floor. We fill the room, but no complaints.
I relax and drink a beer, picking at the dry paint on my hands. Tomorrow we will dedicate the house and turn over the keys to the new owner. One week to build a house. No problem for this crew.
John was not drinking. Instead he held a guitar and wore a sly smile. He sat across from me on the edge of the bed. “Why the smile?” I ask. “This is such a great moment and I want to soak it in” he replied.
John started to play his guitar. As he strummed along, all fell quiet. John had our attention and began to sing:
“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don’t ask why
It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right
I hope you had the time of your life.”
Good voice and a favorite song with Green Day’s “Good Riddance / Time of your Life“. Others begin to sing and I jump in too, bad voice and all. The song is not very long, but somehow we extended it repeating the chorus over and over. John raises his voice and we follow his lead. We did not want to stop singing. I look around seeing smiles fill the room. John was right, this was a great moment.
“It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right
I hope you had the time of your life.”
In time the hotel management knocks on the door … complaints from others in the hotel. We were too loud and disturbing others. John puts down his guitar and we fall silent. The spell was broken, but the smiles remain. Indeed, we were having the time of our life.
That day was 13 years ago. Our PMI team was finishing yet another great Habitat for Humanity blitz build. This one entirely on our own, one house, one crew. It helped that both our CEO and Head of Human Resources had the skill and passion of a general contractor. These home builds connected us to our purpose as an organization and from the board room to the ground floor, we were one team.
Today I remember that day and so many others along the long road of my career. For today is my last day at PMI, the only organization I ever knew. That day so long ago, holds special meaning for me. We still lived the purpose I learned when I joined the company, “We provide for the American dream of homeownership. We put people in homes.”
Every loan had a face.
Later our purpose changed. Market share and global growth dominated the talk and decisions. The face of one loan was lost into the crowd of bulk deal after bulk deal. In time the only street that mattered was Wall Street.
Through the housing crisis and our own decisions, we lost our company. Back on that day 13 years ago though we could not imagine such a scenario. We knew who we were and we loved our work. Indeed we loved each other and our company. The future was bright.
Lately I obsess with looking back on my 26 years with PMI. As I do the math, that day back 13 years ago building a home in South Dakota was indeed the halfway point of my full career at PMI. So many other memories though. As the crisis worsened my team and I were on the front line and doing the best we could with the mess at our feet. I am so proud of the people I worked with in Claims and Investigations. Miracles were commonplace.
Tomorrow all changes. I will never forget my friends and the great people who I worked with for 26 years at PMI. I will not forget the greatness of what we were. Indeed, I will remember the hard lessons as well. Yet, now I must look forward to the next adventure. My heart is full. My eyes are clear. The smile remains.
John once more picks up his guitar and I sing, recognizing the truth of the words, “It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right, I hope you had the time of your life.”
Indeed I did. Good Riddance PMI.