Soon after one of my best friends died on Feb. 1, I learned about the compassion technology companies can show during very difficult times.
I knew Dan Miller for 35 years since we worked together at the now-defunct Foreign Car Specialists sports car shop in Madison, Wis., in the 1980s. Dan was a mechanic who worked on Japanese cars. I was a parts guy and service writer in the shop while putting myself through college.
We were friends from the start. We took road trips, went to hear music, went sailing on his boat and commiserated about girlfriends and love that was lost or found. He was like the brother I never had.
Tragically, Dan died while on vacation in Costa Rica after a powerful wave lifted him from the water and dropped him into a rock, killing him instantly. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Patricia Larsen-Miller, who held a beautiful memorial service for him on March 19 in Waunakee, Wis. Some 250 friends attended the service and shared their stories about Dan and his life and how he touched our lives.
After the service, I stayed in Madison to help Pat sort out Dan's digital life in his laptop computer. As an avid photographer, his collection of digital images consumed more than 234GB of space in his storage drives.
One of the first things I discovered was that we couldn't find a password for Dan's online Carbonite backup account. After the service locked us out of his account as we tried passwords, we had to phone Carbonite for direct assistance.
When Steve at Carbonite answered the phone, I explained the situation. His response was humbling.
Steve first genuinely expressed his heartfelt condolences to Pat and me via speakerphone and told us he would do everything possible to help at what he knew was a very difficult time. He authenticated us through several questions about credit cards and personal information and then he helped us change Dan's account password. Before completing the call, he again offered his sympathies for our huge loss.
We had a similar caring experience when we called U.S. Cellular to ask for help saving Dan's outgoing voicemail message on his Moto X smartphone. His voicemail message was the only recording of Dan's voice that Pat had, and she wanted to save it if she could. I called U.S. Cellular and asked for help in doing so when I realized that the message was on the company's servers.
Shannon at U.S. Cellular responded quickly and got the paperwork started to make it happen. She also offered her heartfelt sympathies for my friend's loss and was genuinely kind to Pat in helping her retrieve the voice file.
The compassion and true caring shown by both companies was much appreciated. No one ever said no. They just did what was necessary to help.
Thanks again, Carbonite and U.S. Cellular, from the bottom of my heart.