Social South was held in Birmingham in 2009, and it will always be a very special event to me, for many reasons. One of which was that it was where I got to meet Trey Pennington. I remember Trey attended my session ‘What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media’, and he tweeted to Collective Soul that I mentioned them in my deck as a case study. And five minutes later, the band tweeted back to both of us!
The next time I met Trey was in Greenville last year at Brains on Fire’s F.I.R.E. Sessions. To be completely honest, I started not to go to this event. As an introvert, I am very uncomfortable when I’m in a room full of people that I don’t know. There was a pre-event networking event the night before it started and sure enough, I knew no one there other than Robbin and Geno. I honestly did NOT want to be there, but after a while Trey arrived, and we started chatting. I think he must have noticed how uncomfortable I was because he said ‘Here, let’s introduce you to a few people’, and then he went around the room introducing me to a few of the many people he knew there. It was a very kind gesture that helped put me at ease and made the entire event much more enjoyable from that point forward.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on these two meetings with Trey today, because earlier this morning I found out that Trey took his own life. I won’t claim to have any idea of what issues Trey was facing, because I really didn’t know Trey, and he really didn’t know me. But despite this, during both our meetings, Trey went out of his way to help me and to attempt to improve my situation.
As I was reading the outpouring of response to Trey’s death on Sunday, I learned that my experiences with Trey were completely typical. Trey simply went out of his way to give to others, and to spread kindness to them. He left people in a better place than where he found them.
Goodbye, Trey. Thanks for being kind, compassionate, a fellow Crimson Tide fan, and an inspiration. I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together, but I am a better person for the time we did share.