In memory of Dawn

I was driving past a park in Eden Prairie last week when I did something that happens to me often, especially over the past couple months: I thought of Dawn Lindgren, an Excelsior library worker who passed away in October.

Most of you weren’t lucky enough to have met her, I know, but I wish you had gotten the opportunity. Dawn was a big personality (at her memorial service, one of her nephews said that she often came to his sporting events, and although he couldn’t always see her in the crowd, he “could always hear her”), and she was a joy to know. Here are a few things I think you should know:

Dawn had advice for everything. It didn’t matter if it was a work matter, what I should do about my surprise flat tire, or the best place to catch Pokémon in Pokémon Go (see aforementioned park in Eden Prairie). Whatever the situation, Dawn had an answer, and I learned early on that what she said was worth listening to. She was, in fact, the person who introduced me to the culinary joy that is Nothing Bundt Cake, and I don’t think I’ll ever have one again without thinking of her.

Dawn could always make me laugh. We were testing some of the search features on the library catalog one Tuesday night when we stumbled across a DVD on order that we each decided we needed to request. And so, we entered the hold list at numbers 271 and 272 for the movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. It became a tradition thereafter where every few days she would ask me for my place in line, and then jokingly comment about how her own was still one after mine. “So,” she said one Tuesday night a couple months later after I’d had a difficult interaction with a patron, “what number are you for Popstar now?” In the end, we waited several months to receive our DVDs (mine arriving days before hers, to my delight and her incredulity: “I was only one spot behind you!”), and both of us ended up returning them unwatched—we just never got around to it.

Dawn was thoughtful. She remembered birthdays and dietary restrictions when she brought treats for the breakroom. She created little gift bags for staff for every holiday and would arrive early at work to hang them on our lockers. Each bag would be personalized with our names (and sometimes an inside joke), and filled with candy and other little treats. From where I’m sitting now, I can see the fir tree scented candle she included in each bag the December before last.

As some of you are probably aware, Dawn passed away as a result of complications from a workplace injury, even after she visited a doctor multiple times. The unfortunate reality is that injuries are a drag, especially when they involve workers compensation. I sprained my wrist doing routine work at a previous job, and during a phone interview about my injury with my employer, I was asked myriad invasive and unrelated questions: Had I ever been pregnant? Did I have a history of mental illness? Would I be willing to sign over my complete medical history for review?

There was nothing pleasant about answering those questions, and there’s nothing to recommend a workplace injury. There is a lot of paperwork, doctor’s appointments, and pain. But here’s the thing: your health is worth it. YOU are worth it. If you hurt yourself at work, please speak up, and please ask for PTO/vacation donations if you need them. Your coworkers care about you, and they want to help.