I had the honour of speaking at Mike's memorial service earlier this month. Below is the text of my speech. I don't usually get nervous speaking in front of crowds, but I was shaking when I gave it. It's not been an easy few weeks here at Rapido.
My name is Jason Shron, and I have had the pleasure of being Mike's boss at Rapido Trains Inc. for the last three years. In 2013 we advertised for the position of "Dan's clone." We wanted a clone of our operations manager, Dan. That sounds like we were a big company, but there were actually only three of us in the office.
Mike was the first to respond, and he came in for an interview. We knew within about three minutes that we had found our new team member. He was obviously "our kind of people." I don't think we stopped laughing for the entire hour.
Within days, Mike went from being some guy to an indispensible member of our team. Just a couple of months ago one of our employees cut himself badly and as I am incredibly squeamish I just looked at Mike and he said, "I'm on it." He left his cane by his desk and went and took care of our team member, calming him down and fixing him up like a pro.
Another time we got a surprise visit from the safety inspector. I shouted out to Mike, who came and talked the talk with this guy. He managed to get us out of a six-figure fine for having a botched-together mezzanine, and by the time the inspector left, Mike and the inspector were drawing track plans and Mike had sold him a bunch of freight cars.
Within a few months I realized that Mike was becoming one of my best friends. During Hockey Night in Canada, when the Habs would schmear the Leafs - sorry, I mean when the Habs would meet the Leafs in a well-balanced and hard-fought game - Mike and I would watch the game on the phone together. Our Montreal-Toronto rivalry extended to his hospital rooms, where I was happy to take advantage of his immobility to decorate his surroundings with Montreal Canadiens posters.
Similarly, we would often debate politics - loudly, in the middle of the office, in front of customers. Those of you who saw the Justin Trudeau posters in his hospital rooms - that was me too. My favourite was the Photoshopped picture of Mike and Justin with the caption: "We're brothers from different mothers."
I could do things like decorate Mike's room with stuff he hates because that was his sense of humour. He lived for our camaraderie and kibitzing, and so did I.
For the last three years, if I started to panic about work I would call Mike. He was always able to make me see the big picture and to calm me right down. I know Mike didn't want us to focus on our loss here today but the truth is I've lost my confidant. Like all of you, I have an empty space inside me right now. I keep reaching for the phone to call for Mike's advice. I keep thinking he's going to come into my office and sit down and tell me we're doing fine.
Mike touched the hearts of thousands of model railroaders. The emails and messages have been pouring in for the last two weeks. People all around the world miss Mike, even if they never met him in person.
There is a prayer said in synagogue every Saturday morning called Nishmat Kol Chai, the Soul of Every Living Being. I'd like to read you a part of it:
"Were our mouth as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of joyous music as its multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon - we still could not thank You sufficiently, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, and to bless Your Name for even one of the thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of good things that you have done for our ancestors and for us."
Mike was one of those good things. And I cannot thank God enough for giving him to us.