I'm not sure how far out this has reached (it made all of the local news broadcasts here in the SF bay area as well as all of the papers), but I feel compelled to share.
Last week I lost a friend. I did not know Matt Carrington long, nor was I ever very close to him, but I would be lying if I ever said he didn't make an impression on my life. I met Matt some years ago during my time as a theater manager. He was sixteen, maybe seventeen at the time, and he came highly recommended to me for employment by one of my assistants at the time and probably by a few of my other employees if I recall correctly. In need of some new blood in my theater, I went ahead and called Matt in for an interview. His friend, my assistant, that first recommended Matt seemed to think it was a forgone conclusion that I would be hiring him simply based on the recommendation. I'm actually not that easy when it comes to such things, but upon meeting Matt and having a chance to interview him, I realized that my already somewhat successful team could only be better off if we had him working with us.
I turned out to be right - Matt was easily one of the best employees I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside. He was always as polite as could be, he was always there when I needed him, and he never once complained...even when pressed - Lord knows I complained enough for everyone, but whenever I did and unintentionally gave everyone else the impression that it was okay to do so this time, Matt always went happily about his work without comment.
Matt had a smile that could light up a room, and I could always count on him to raise the morale of everyone else on my staff when he came in to work - even in the worst of times (like that week The Grinch opened and the corporate office had cut us down to barely a skeleton crew because we had poor attendance the year before when far less popular fare was playing, and Grinch turned out to be this mega-hit, and we had it playing on four screens meaning we had showings ever half hour, and the massive crowds dumped all of their garbage over the floor, and we barely had enough people to clean up after each show much less keep both snack bars in both lobby's open at the same time like we were supposed to, and people were banging on the windows threatening to riot while we cleaned if we didn't let them in right now, and one of our soda fountains burst open and spewed soda out into the line and all the customers still refused to move over to the other, dry side, and well...it was just bad, but I still can't recall Matt having been as shaken as everyone else and complaining!). He always seemed generally happy and even honored to be working with us for what little we were allowed to pay him - and I made sure he was among the very first to get as big a raise as possible whenever my payroll increased; he deserved every bit of it!
It wasn't very long at all before I had Matt trained and promoted to Assistant Manager. He was the very first among that new group of employees and he took to it like it was actually worth his time and effort, his dilligence and his focus. I always knew I could count on Matt to handle things, and he always did - with a smile. I will even go so far as to say that I was a better manager for having him on my side. As though he caused me to step up a level to meet him. I was actually, I'm not ashamed to admit, proud to see Matt go from a vest and bowtie wearing usher to a suit and tie wearing, gold nametag sporting manager. One of the bosses! He deserved at the very least that much praise. He was everywhere I needed him anytime I needed him to be there, and he always went the extra mile to get the job done, and beyond that he was just a joy to be around.
Like me, Matt loved movies and I was happy to find out that he and his friends loved to hang out at the theater often long after both of us had moved on to bigger and better things (I tend to think he actually moved on to bigger and better things than I did, but I'm sure he deserved that more than me.) Some time after leaving the theater business Matt went off to college, graduating from Diablo Valley College with an AA degree - I was happy to discover - before transferring to Chico State University. From what I've learned, it seemed Matt was very happy going about his studies and just living life there. I've heard from his friends that it was a bit out of character for Matt to have attempted joining a fraternity - he always seemed to be one to enjoy a good time like everyone else, but I always knew Matt to be kind of quiet and not really one for such things. He was always up for making new friends, though, and it's supected that this is what led him to try it out. I'm led to understand that another of his friend's at the school had convinced him to come along for the ride, and Matt, being the friendly, good natured, fun-loving guy he is, went along.
Matt lost his life on Wednesday, February 2nd as result of a senseless farternity hazing ritual. Those of us who knew him are better off for having been able to call him friend in the all too short time he was here, and the world is a colder place for having lost him. The senseless tragedy that led to his passing has robbed the world of a young man who seemed to those of us who knew him to be destined for great things.
As I have stated earlier, I did not know Matthew for long, and I can't claim to have ever been very close to him, but he did touch my life and he did have an affect on my soul. It was hard not to be affected by such a bright light as Matt. In having known him, as well as in his passing, I have learned to better cherish my friendships and relationships, no matter how seemingly small and inconsequential, and I have been made painfully aware once again just how tenuous life is and how important it is to not hold back from the things that are within our grasp. I know that sounds corny even as I sit here writing it, but I believe it with all my heart and hope that it will help me to make a change for the better in the way I live my life.
I attended Matt's funeral yesterday, and I was struck by just how many lives he affected in the short time he had with us. He seemed genuinely loved and that he will be sorely missed by all who knew him - even those of us who had only just worked alongside him for a brief moment. I recall having met his parents - his mother and step-father and his birth father - on several occasions, having often welcomed them free of charge into my theater. One of the few benefits my company offered it's non-salaried employees was free passes, and I remember Matt always having been a bit apologetic for ever even asking for passes for his family. I never minded, and I was always willing to welcome his family any night of the week, as often as they wanted as though they were my own. It was the least I could do for someone who'd made my job so much easier. Matt always seemed to make a point to ask very politely even with my insistance that he was welcome any time. My heart goes out to his family who happen to be very incredibly nice and gracious people in their own right. They should be proud to know how good a job they did raising Matt.
If anyone is interested, a fund to promote public awareness and education related to fraternity hazing practices has been set up in Matt's memory. If anyone here would like donations are being received at the Bank of the West at 2050 North California Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA 94596 attn: Peggy Lewis. Checks and money orders should be made out to The Matthew Carrington Fund.
Here are a couple news articles regarding Matt's death: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...NCARRINGT3.DTL