Out of all the stories I have written on my blog since June of last year, this one will be the toughest. This morning, I looked on my News Feed on Facebook, that my former boss from American Express Travel, Steve Ginardi, passed away on January 16. I was on my out to take my mother to the eye doctor and saw the terrible news. I sat on my couch motionless for a couple of moments, and then tears were starting to flow from my eyes. The memories of him working with him were flooding my brain, and I cried even more.
I started working at American Express Travel on November 14, 1994, for the Kraft account in Glenview, IL. I was a temp and was going to be there for about six months. When I arrived there, my position was a ticket packager. I first met Steve, probably the second or third day of working at that place. He was kind, generous, and if I needed anything, I would let him know. I have worked with a lot of supervisors in my lifetime, but he was an exception. Most of the supervisors that I worked with in the past were moody, snobby, sexist, sloppy, and uneducated. He was a breath of fresh air.
A few days before the office was to close, Steve offered me a full-time job at the Rolling Meadows, IL, office. I was reluctant at first, but I needed the money and insurance. So I accepted the position. On June 19, 1995, I started working AMEX at Rolling Meadows on the 11th floor in the packaging room. A few months later, the Abbott account moved to the second floor and was packaging airline tickets. I had other responsibilities for my job, but I am saving them for my 25th-anniversary story in June.
I had a promotion to be a Quality Assurance in 1996. It was the best job I ever had. Over the years, I have watched Steve of his quirks and his idiosyncrasies daily. When it came to food day, he would devour anything in sight. It’s like watching a Scooby-Doo cartoon. He would complain about the portions of some types of food were too small. It was pizza, pies, cakes, and sandwiches. He enjoyed the cakes that I brought in the office that my mother baked. He would have two big pieces and would be considered puny.
One of my favorite times with him was, every Friday afternoon I would be inundated, with an abundance of airline tickets, invoices, telephone calls, and people dropping by asking me questions. I loathed it so much, but I managed to get through with this every week. Steve would come in and asked me if I needed help. I always said yes, and he would sit down, and he wanted me to make fun of everyone. The people were my team leader, the other team leaders, co-workers, and the travel agents on the 2nd and 11th floor. I didn’t do that, but he was the manager, and he got away with that. I always appreciated it when he helped me out. He eased the stress that I went through when it was extremely busy at the office.
2006 and 2007 were terrible years for me. My father passed away in January, and Steve retired a few months later. I was sad about both of the events happening. Then in February 2007, I was displaced at Amex. I wasn’t that sad about it. It was time for me to leave. The commute was wearing me out, and I saw the writing on the wall that the travel support would be no more. I still miss my Amex family to this day.
Around 2008 or 2009, I created the AMEX BTC Rolling Meadows Facebook group. When I joined Facebook, I started making friends with my former co-workers. When I started adding people in my group, I remembered Steve sending me a message saying, “Whoa!” So he entered people into the group. He said it was a terrific idea and was pleased.
I lost a part of my life today as I heard the news of Steve’s passing. I couldn’t stop crying for hours, and I still feel sad right now. His wife, daughter, and his family members have my deepest condolences. He was a good man. Thank you, Steve, for the memories. We all love you and are going to miss you terribly. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.