In Memory of David A. Cherriere


by Jeph Johnson


A gentle, forgiving and misunderstood soul passed from our presence recently. A man who deserves accolades for having exemplified qualities few others possess. What makes his gentle kindness so unique is that he owed it to no one. Relegated to custodial duties for what in the fast food industry must have seemed like three lifetimes, David A. Cherriere always had a friendly greeting and simple boyish charm about him. I talked with him several times over the course of the last few years during my too many visits to McDonald's at Milwaukie Marketplace between Oak Street and the Milwaukie Expressway on 224. It was always small talk and nothing ever very intellectually challenging or controversial. This gentleman (and there is no other way to describe him) was one of the hardest working individuals I have ever encountered; consistently picking up trash and emptying garbages, wiping down counters and offering to take my tray. Whenever I approached the door
David would open it and greet me with an awkward smile. In addition to his stellar customer service, he made sure the condiments were stocked and the bathroom clean. The final conversation I had with him he boasted that he had been working there longer than many of the staff had been alive! A real sense of pride came over him and I felt a sincere honor to be able to genuinely compliment him. Due to his social awkwardness and the mental challenges he'd battled over the course of his lifetime I have no doubt he'd faced his share of cruelty in his life. But you would not know it from his attitude or demeanor. He had a haggard look to him; often sweating profusely and this look undoubtedly dissuaded people from speaking with him or even giving him eye contact, but that didn't stop him from being one of the friendliest and hardest working people I have ever met. Not once did the strained tension of his job seem to lead to any outward frustrations the way the messy habits and privileged entitlement of fast food customers would get to the rest of us. David truly exemplified a kind and gentle spirit amidst an inner torment most of us will never have to deal with. Please keep David's spirit alive by remembering his daily accomplishments. Smile at strangers. Offer assistance. Pick up trash and beautify your surroundings. Engage in small talk when people look lost or lonely. Basically care about others. Something that's very difficult to do when it seems like the whole world is against you. I'm sure this was how David was tempted to view the world but given how he treated others, he instead gave the world hope for overcoming what society might consider lowered expectations. I've mentioned before that my heroes have always been misunderstood and David A. Cherriere is no exception. One does not need to ever understand him, but it would be wise for us to emulate his spirit. David, you will be missed.

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