A number of years ago I graduated from Purdue University’s curriculum on Advanced Level Urban and Industrial Integrated Pest Management. Now, if you’re not in the bug business, that probably means nothing to you. But if you’re a pest control professional, trust me, it’s a big deal.
I hung the diploma on my office wall and proceeded to run my business all these years. I never gave it another thought. In fact, all memory of the classes and the studying and the moment I received my diploma had completely disappeared from my mind. I had no conscious memories of those joyous moments. How could this be? How could I not remember anything about that time when I became one of an elite group within my field… a group who not only choose to go beyond the bare minimum requirements but to reach for a level of excellence occupied only by the smallest fraction of a percent of all pest management professionals? I had no answer.
Then, the other day, I decided to re-frame the diploma. We’ve remodeled and I wanted to match the new décor. In taking the sheepskin out of the frame I realized that I had tucked in along with it the standard congratulatory letter that came with it. “Dear Mr. Brennan, on behalf of the University it is my great honor… yadda yadda yadda.” I read through it and it turns out that I had forgotten more than I realized. It seems that, not only did I graduate, but I graduated at the top of the class with a rating of “superior.” Once again… if you’re in my line of work, this is a big deal. But it was only a footnote to a distant memory. Why? Why had I all but forgotten the most important achievement of my pest management career? Why was this prestigious memento not more precious to me?
Then I read the date on the letter. I had graduated at the beginning of September. The letter was typed on September 4th. And by the time I received it in the mail it was the following week. It came in the morning mail on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. There was a much bigger deal in the news that morning.