Tell Them

The construction manager was fuming.  The weather had already caused them more delays then he could handle and now this.  While clearing the trees and undergrowth for the new subdivision, his guys discovered an abandoned truck.  Normally, this would just be sold for scrap but this was different – there was a human skeleton inside.  The on-site foreman had already called the police before calling him.  This was going to be a very long day.

By the time he arrived at the construction site, the police were in full investigation mode – crime scene tape had been put up – officers were preventing anyone from going into the “active crime scene” – crime scene investigators were moving in and out of the area collecting “evidence.”  All he could think was, “What a mess.”

“My name is Bob Smith and I am the construction manager for this project.  Who’s in charge?” he said as he approached the yellow tape.  “I need to talk to them – we have a schedule to keep and can’t be sitting here for days waiting on y’all to wrap things up.”

“Detective Jones has been contacted and is on his way,” the officer replied as he stood in front of Bob to keep him from crossing the tape barrier.  “Why, there he is now.”

The officer called the detective over and introduced Bob.  The detective shook his hand and then got out his pocket notebook.  He took down Bob’s information and asked endless questions about the owners of the site, the project, the time they had been working.  The more questions he asked, the more irritated Bob was becoming.  Finally, the detective had enough information and said, “Look, I understand you want to get back to work.  Let me walk down to the truck and gather information.  I promise I will try to get you guys back to work as soon as possible.”

Bob just shook his head as he watched the detective walk down the path to the truck.  He tried to adjust his position to see if he could see the truck but he wasn’t sure if he was seeing dirty metal or shadows.  He decided that he needed to call the corporate office to let them know so the project owners were made aware of this very delicate situation and see if they could get an extension to the completion date due to the delay the investigation may cause.  Time is money and he needed to start getting things in order quickly.

While on the phone, he saw Detective Jones walking out of the area and going to his car carrying a manila envelope.  The detective got in his car and starting talking on his radio.  He had just finished his conversation with the powers to be when the detective walked up to him and made a request that through him for a loop.

“Mr. Smith, I am going to need a DNA swab from you.”  No emotion – no nonsense – just a statement of fact as he began to prepare the swabs.

“What?!  Are you telling me you think I had something to do with the body my guys just found?  Are you crazy or just incompetent?”  Bob felt his face flush as anger filled his entire being.

“Let’s go for a walk,” Detective Jones said as he lifted the yellow tape.  They headed into the woods as Jones began to explain.

“Twenty-five years ago, your father disappeared after the funeral of your mother.  Our information indicates that he had told his sister to watch you because he just needed to be alone for a bit.  He said he would be right back and was never heard from again.”

As they finally arrived at the truck, Bob stopped.  It was rusted and all the windows had been broken.  But it sure looked like the truck his dad had driven.  Detective Jones continued.

“We checked and the plates on the truck match the ones that were on it when it disappeared.  Most of the clothes have rotted away but we did find a wallet.  It had your dad’s information inside.  Money and credit cards were also inside so we don’t think it was a robbery.  No weapons were inside.  Our guess is that he came out here to grieve alone so you would not see him cry and that he had a heart attack and passed away since no one was here to help.  But we will need your DNA to affirm that the bones we found are really his.  Bob, I am so sorry to have to give you this news.”

Bob stood silent.  The emotions associated with years of wondering why his dad had abandoned him came over him like a flood.  So many feelings welling up inside of him that he just didn’t know what to do.  And then it happened – he just started to cry.  He turned to try and keep anyone from seeing.

Finally, he gathered himself.  He noticed that he was alone with Detective Jones.  “Would you mind if I just stay here for a little while?”

“Sure,” said Jones, “and what do you want me to tell your crew?”

Bob inhaled deeply.  “Tell them to go home to their families.  We can start back to work tomorrow.”  And then, as if it were the most important thing, he added, “Tell them to hug their kids and tell them that they love them.  Because sometimes, we forget how important those words are.”

Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.


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Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

This is some great Storytelling Len. Very captivating and pull you right inside the story.

Johnny Johnston
Johnny Johnston

You’re Magnificent! Had me right to the end! Loved it…….



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