Pennsyljersington

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PERSONAL #3: Mahnishmah

Working as a sales representative meant that Jarronn got to meet all kinds of different people. He’d often come home or call me during the day with stories about people he met in a waiting room, the doctors he called on, or the front office staff. on occasion, the story might have even been accompanied by a photo he snapped with his Blackberry — like the one below of a 80+ year-old woman wearing Rocawear sunglasses. (Something he had found hilarious.)

One of the reasons why Jarronn was so great at his job was that he had a gift for connecting with people. For the offices where there was a doctor that seemed less than eager to meet with him, he’d charm the front office staff — memorizing their names. Things about their families. Or their favorite things to do on weekends. Since he died, I’ve found business cards and slips of paper with his notes about someone he met, so he could remember the details later. It wasn’t that he wasn’t genuine in his interest in the lives of people he met. But he was intentional. And he knew how much it would mean to people when he remembered details about them.

In the weeks after he died, I received lots of thoughtful messages, cards, and emails from his co-workers. One of them noted: “Jarronn is such a positive & humorous force; all lives are changed as a result of him. I have never seen a man so sure and excited about his marriage and his wife and his God and his family. You gotta know how much of an impact he made on our customers, his co-workers, I have barely sold a drug since Jarronn left us.”  I even got a card from one of the doctors offices he called on — something that I felt was a true testament to how much of an impression he made on people.

One of Jarronn’s favorite doctors was Dr. Jacobs. As I understand things, when Jarronn first started his sales job and calling on Dr. Jacob’s office, all sales reps were confined to standing in a corner and waiting, if they were lucky. The unlucky ones just couldn’t come in at all. Fast forward three years, and Jarronn took me to Dr. Jacobs’ office where the staff couldn’t have greeted us with a warmer welcome, and Dr. Jacobs took time out of his packed patient schedule to visit with us. That day, he blessed our future marriage with a Hebrew prayer, shook Jarronn’s hand heartily, and gave him an approving and supportive pat on the shoulder. It meant a lot to both of us.

This week, as I was getting ready for work one morning, I was searching through the nightstand next to the bed, looking for something. It’s full of things collected by Jarronn that I’ve yet to sort through, but it often turns up useful items. A tube of chap stick, a book of matches, or a needed document. On this particular day, I found a tiny blue slip of paper — a prescription sheet from Dr. Jacob’s office.

On the tiny slip were two words, written in a language I couldn’t understand. But I immediately knew what I was looking at. I immediately imagined Jarronn talking to Dr. Jacobs. Asking him to teach him some new terms in Hebrew. Writing it down so he’d remember it for their next conversation or the one he’d have with the next Jewish person he met who spoke Hebrew.

tiny blue slip

And so I immediately went to my computer, opened up Google, and searched for the words on the tiny slip of paper in my hand. I searched for meaning. I searched for the knowledge Jarronn had. I searched for connection.

What I found was that “Mah neesh mah” was the phonetic spelling of the word “Mahnishmah.” Jarronn had written it in a way that he’d remember the pronunciation. And the meaning of “mahnishmah”?

It means “What’s up?”

And so I smiled. I felt that connection I’d been looking for, and I replied out loud, “Not much, Boo. What’s up with you?”

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