A wealth of experience ... and humility
Jamie LaReau is a reporter for Automotive News.
Jack Teahen was 44-years-old, well into his long, distinguished career as an auto journalist, when I was born.
I finally caught up with him when I joined Automotive News in 2004.
Of course, his industry knowledge and writing skills surpassed mine tenfold.
Yet Jack never once spoke condescendingly to me. He treated me with respect, as his equal.
That was Jack, a consummate gentleman, whose humility allowed him to learn from anyone — even someone so many years his junior.
He and I once wrote side-by-side columns about our preferences when shopping for a new car. My column focused on the ease of negotiating a deal from home using the Internet and telephone. Jack's column took a more traditional stance. He preferred to go to a dealership and "kick the tires."
The "he said, she said" format generated a lot of reader feedback.
But what really tickled Jack about those columns would turn out to be an incident that happened months after they ran.
Jack and I were at a journalism award event, each of us nominated for different work. I brought my mother to the reception and introduced her to Jack. Right away, she said to him: "Oh, you're the one who likes to kick the tires."
Jack cracked up laughing. He was a modest man, and I believe he was surprised someone would quote him to him.
The next day, Jack came to my desk to remark on how "sharp" my mother was to so quickly recall the column and discuss the industry with him. It seemed to be a highlight of the night for him.
Funny, all these years later, I don't remember whether Jack and I won awards that night or not.
It doesn't even matter because what I do remember is Jack's laughter, his consistent humility and the glint of happiness in his eyes when he realized his writing had resonated with somebody
You can reach Jamie LaReau at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Follow Jamie on