I was a "side-by-side" PhD student with a guy who'd come over from Chile. What a time. He liked meat. Me too. I must dig out a photo of that time. He was godfather to my boy Jonah, who is now eight years old.
A Skype message pinged up from Andre complimenting me on my recent change of Facebook profile photo:
[10:24:56 AM] Andre Beaujanot: Nice new photo mate!!! You look very smart professor Habel!!
[10:27:45 AM] Cullen Habel: Ha. Professor. Nothing is possibly further from my future. I'm one step away from emptying rubbish bins for a living. But family is good and my marriage is stil together. Every day, I miss the time that we were all together doing that stuff.
[10:31:03 AM] Andre Beaujanot: Hey buddy!!!! You are a fighter mate!!! All good times are old times.... We survive because our past...
[10:32:08 AM] Andre Beaujanot: I am happy mate because [snip] !!!!
[10:33:21 AM] Andre Beaujanot: I am now working for a private university... Not research oriented, but BIG!!! 110.000 students!!!
So we connected and chatted. And after a few crazy jokes and memories I quizzed him "so you're not teaching, but you're in a non-research university. Are you doing admin for a living?".
And with no ego: "well yes, Cullen, actually I'm vice chancellor of this university"
And I laughed, very hard, at the best news I've had all year, and possibly for the last four.
And it made me think of what it's to have a good heart. Andre is a hard man, in some ways. But he never seethed with resentment at another's success, he never had a hint of a dark spirit. And he was always prepared to look at me and say "that's silly, you don't want to do that". A real friend who would talk straight to me, no matter how hard that might be.
And just as the Vinomofo guys make you love their success, Andre attracts goodwill over his success. How can it be otherwise?