Afraid To Break the News

by Ron Bucchino

May 21, 2010

Indian Club Demonstration (1939)

It was 1979 and I had just been fired from EG&G (Doc’s company), where Doc had helped to get me a job one year earlier. I was just a naive kid and did not realize that I was making enemies of my boss and his boss, when Doc would drop by to visit, blow my boss off and take me down to the cafeteria for a coffee and a chat. Had I been a little savvier, I would have occasionally invited my boss along; lessons of inclusion are hard won.

Anyway, I had been circling MIT in my car for what seemed like an hour (having come directly from being fired at EG&G), working up the courage to confront Doc with the news of my firing before he learned about it from anyone else. The walk up to the Strobe Lab was the hardest walk of my life to that point. I was sure that I would be a great disappointment to Doc. Doc cheerfully greeted me, as was his custom with guests. We both sat in the area behind his desk. He never used his desk as a barrier; he would always bring the guest behind his wooden ark (something I try to do to this day). I related the story of my firing to Doc. And he maintained a neutral expression throughout — at least until I was finished. Doc then started laughing so hard that he almost fell off his chair. Then he told me the story of how he got fired from EG&G (deposed from the Board of Directors).

From that day onward Doc and I shared a special bond until the day he died. We shared many more adventures in the Strobe Lab, and he conferred on me the title of “Guest of the Strobe Lab” while he lived.

I really miss that guy.



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