The day Matt died, the police officer who told me about his death stayed for quite a while. He told me that the company was sending over some people to explain what happened. We waited and waited, and no one showed. The police officer then called the company and asked where these people are, and that we've been waiting all morning. Cameron finally sent a human resources person to my house to explain what happened. A very nice lady, but she had no clue of any details, had only worked for the company for about 2 years, and never dealt with a situation like this where an employee died on the job. The police officer and I were under the impression that more than one person was coming to the house to explain. After waiting so long for this lady who didn't know squat to show up, it was apparent that the guys that were supposed to come over chickened out and sent this lady to do their dirty work.
The day after Matt died, his parents and I went to meet with some executives from Cameron who flew in from their headquarters in Houston, the Safety Inspector from the Buffalo location, and Matt's immediate supervisor. Renee (the HR lady) said we had the option to meet with them if we wanted. There was no way I was turning that down. I also told her that before she came to the house, we were under the impression there was more than one person coming over, and everything else I felt about that situation. I asked her how many people we were expecting to be meeting with when we went there, and she said eight. I told her I wasn't sure what time we would be done at the funeral home, but that whenever we were done making arrangements, we were heading over to Cameron, and that I expect to have eight people there waiting for us when we get there.
When I was in the shower getting ready to go, I had an epiphany. I was going to bring pictures with me. I frantically picked out pictures from albums while brushing my teeth.
When we walked into the plant, there were eight people there waiting in line. At first, I walked past them after giving them all a glare. I just couldn't say anything or shake their hands at that moment. Ginny, Matt's mom, was much more gracious. She introduced herself and shook their hands. That gave me the strength to go through with my plan. I didn't want to waste this opportunity to talk to these guys who flew all the way from Houston. I asked them to repeat their names to me again, and I shook their hands. I'll try to recreate my schpeal to them:
"I brought some pictures with me that I want to show you all to give you some insight as to the kind of man Matt was outside of his role as employee at Cameron. You already know what a great worker he was; I want you to know what a great father, husband and friend Matt was, and what has been taken away from me and our children. Here's a picture of us when we got married. Here's a picture of Matt graduating from college in May just last year, where he got his bachelor's degree. It took him nine years working full time and going to school in the evenings to get to that point. He worked his ass off, built our home, and still made time for me and his kids. Here he is riding bikes with our four year old son, Jacob. Jacob just took the training wheels off his bike this summer. This is their favorite thing to do together - they ride for hours at a time. Here's Matt tracing the puzzle pieces to make it easier for Jacob to see where to put the pieces on the board. That's just one example of the time, detail and care he took with his kids. Here's Matt holding our daughter, Sydney. Sydney is Daddy's little girl. She fusses and fights when I go to change her diaper or change her clothes, but if it's Daddy doing it, she's calm as can be. She's been wandering around the house crying, and calling for Daddy. Here is Matt and Jacob working on the deck in the back. Matt involved Jacob with everything he did around the house, and Jacob was learning a lot from him. There is so much more he could have learned from his Daddy that I'll never be able to teach him. Here is Matt with both kids on his lap on the couch, reading to his kids. This was a common sight. Here's Matt helping Sydney to take her first steps. She will never remember her Daddy. Jacob might have some vague memories of him, but Sydney won't remember a thing."
There's more, but I can't remember all of the pics and all of the stories, but I talked their ears off. They all looked at each picture and listened to my stories. After I was done with the pictures, I said something along these lines:
"Matt was working 2nd shift until you hired someone to take a 2nd shift position so he could be bumped to 1st. You had made an offer to someone recently, and he turned it down. Matt said that you weren't in any hurry to make an offer to someone else. I know it's because Matt is the kind of worker that can do the work of two people. So why pay to hire another person when you have a superstar employee like Matt? Matt ended up working even later that night because he was covering someone else's shift. He started at 4pm, but probably got there even earlier because that's just the kind of worker he is. It was around 5 when this happened? He was working for over 13 hours at that point! I know that this is the end of the month/end of the year push to get these compressors out the door, but you can't work your employees to the point of exhaustion. Their safety should take priority over the bottom line. Now I have to raise my children by myself, and live my life without my husband. I just want you to know that it's my hope that you make sure this never happens to anyone else."
Then we were escorted into the Plenum Room where it happened.
After Matt's brothers arrived in town, we went back so they could see, and have an opportunity to talk to the executives. His brother Jeff laid into them wonderfully, and I'm so proud of him for expressing his anger to them. Chris did something similar, and also expressed his theory for exactly what happened. They all had chimed in with their theories and opinions.
I've had to go there a couple more times since, and every time, I get more of a bad attitude with the people. I just can't help it. Anger has set in. I WILL show my face to them any chance I get, though, no matter how painful it is to be there and see those people, and the place where he died.
Cameron put a collection together for us. They also paid for the flights for our immediate family. Then, just before I went to Arizona for Thanksgiving, I had to go to Cameron to meet with the Human Resources person, and she gave me an envelope filled with cash. Every year, they have a pie contest (not sure what that is exactly) and raise money for City Mission. Since they knew the funds were going to the kids and I this time around, they raised three times what they normally do. Someone also gave us a frozen turkey. I am so bitter and angry with Cameron and everyone associated with them that I have a hard time being nice to anyone over there. I was so close to just giving her the envelope back saying, "give it to the City Mission to people who really need it. It can't bring Matt back. And really - what am I gonna do with a fucking turkey?!" I was able to keep my mouth shut and say thank you, but my attorney who went with me to that meeting talked me down a little while later and put things in some perspective for me. I gave them Matt's funeral bill. Renee said she would give it to Corporate and 'hopefully' they'll cover it. I told them they had better cover it since they're the reason he's dead.
I know that the employees and Matt's co-workers are angry and sad about what happened, too, and just want to help any way they can. It seems to be a good company with good people, but made some very bad choices which ultimately lead to my husband's death. I can't help but hate them all right now.