I met Faigy Mayer at a Toastmasters meeting. We became quick friends because I like interesting people. Faigy was one of the most interesting of all. She was an Ex-Hasidic Jew turned app-developer turned speaker turned general people enthusiast.
And over the course of four years Faigy Mayer taught me a great deal about living.
I always joke that I collect characters, people who are interesting and talented. People who are crazy in their brilliance. People who don’t fit any sort of mold but still dazzle like 4th of July sparklers. Those are my people. And that was Faigy Mayer.
To understand Faigy, you need to understand where she came from. To be honest, I never really understood. I think most people didn’t and that was probably part of the problem. She was born into a community of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. I don’t know much about Hasidic Judaism except that there are a lot of rules. Rules about who can speak to whom. Rules about hair. Rules about marriage. I’m no expert though and won’t claim to be. All I know is that Faigy decided to leave her community and that decision ultimately caused her a lot of pain.
But I don’t want to talk about that here.
I want to focus on happier things, like the wonderful lessons I learned from the Fabulous Faigy Mayer.
So Faigy, my dear, this one is for you.
How To Meet Anyone Anywhere:
Faigy’s philosophy for making friends was simple: If you want to meet someone, start talking to them. Just like that. She had a knack for starting conversations and converting those conversations into friendships. She was in a million Meetup groups and Toastmasters clubs and coding hackathons. She would walk in not knowing anyone and leave being friends with everyone. We were having a work session together once when I left for the bathroom. By the time I came back, Faigy introduced to me our new friend sitting across the table. She had already invited him to her Meetup group that evening. She had a skill for meeting people, a talent really. On the train. Walking down the sidewalk. Ordering a coffee. If you were a human, Faigy was deeply interested in you and deeply enthusiastic about whatever you were working on.
Be Authentic With Your Praise
Faigy was direct in ways I could never be. I admired that about her because with Faigy, a spade was a spade. When she loved something she told you. When she hated something she told you. You never doubted her sincerity of opinion. She was at my apartment once when I asked her to read parts of my book. She laughed out loud several times and when she was done said, “That’s actually really hilarious! I’m pretty surprised because your YouTube videos kind of suck.” That was Faigy. I was so stoked that she loved my book because I knew she wasn’t lying out of courtesy. A compliment meant more from her because you knew she meant it. She was generous with her compliments too. “You’re so awesome,” or “You’re AMAZING!” I’d hear her say frequently to some of our friends. And you knew that she really believed that they were awesome and amazing.
Ask for What You Want:
Whether it was cheesecake or a kiss, Faigy always asked for what she wanted. She didn’t beat around the bush or passively try to hint. She asked. Boldly.
Laugh at Yourself:
We were sitting around drinking tea at my apartment once when Faigy said, “I think I would like to go, I am meeting a friend for dinner. Is that ok?” I started laughing, “Of course Faigy! You can leave whenever you want. Just say, ‘Hey, gotta go.'” She started laughing too, “I’m still trying to figure out social norms! Sometimes I mess it up,” she said smiling. She didn’t take herself too seriously when it came to fitting in. She knew that sometimes she got it right and sometimes she was a little off. When she got it wrong, she usually acknowledged it with humor.
Faigy showed up. To Meetups. To your birthday. To brunch. If there was an event, you could rely on Faigy to be there. In NYC, that kind of reliability is vital. Sometimes Faigy would ride the train for over an hour from Brooklyn to come to a work session. She was flexible like that. Sometimes those work sessions would turn into crying rants about ex-boyfriends and she’d listen patiently and offer advice.
Compassion is Everything:
This is by far the most important lesson of all. Today at the funeral I was deeply moved by the stories from your other friends. Friends who said that you saved their lives on multiple occasions with your compassion. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own levels of compassion, Faigy. Lately I’ve been self-absorbed and caught up in silly dramas. I’ve been impatient, unkind, and unavailable. I’ve been very, very worried about silly and unimportant anxieties. And I’m so so sorry that it took your death to make me realize that. It’s not just me either. Everyone today said that your death made them think about their life. And that’s incredibly important, Faigy. I want to promise you that it wasn’t in vain. We’re all gonna be a little better now. A little kinder. A little gentler. A little less frustrated about things like train schedules and coffee prices. A little more loving. A hell of a lot more compassionate. And it’s because of you. You can take full credit for that my dear.
So Faigy, honey, if you’re reading this. I hope you know that you are loved immensely. That your life made a difference. That it wasn’t all for naught.
I’ll miss you terribly at the next brunch. Wherever you are, I’m sure your hair looks great.