A few months ago, Tony Kline received a package in the mail that came as a shock: the 5-year Geek Squad badge of his colleague, Bob Luthardt.
While Tony immediately planned to send the badge back, Bob included a note that explained there was no one more deserving of his badge. The two have never met in person, but they’ve developed a bond over the years that Bob says saved his life.
“Tony persevered with me when no one else would,” Bob said.
For years, Bob was going through a difficult time in his life and often would express anger and frustration on Geek Squad Agent Forums, which are message boards available to Agents across the company. Bob became acquainted with Tony on those forums when Tony began to respond to Bob’s comments and questions with understanding and additional perspective.
“When I see frustrations expressed on the forums, usually [the employee] isn’t complaining because they like their own voice,” Tony said. “There’s something eliciting a passion, and there’s this underlying feeling of, ‘I don’t understand but I want to.’”
A wakeup call — and an awakening
After numerous interactions, Tony could sense that there were underlying causes that were leading Bob to be frustrated and seemingly unhappy. He suggested Bob talk to someone who could help him unpack those struggles.
It was then that Bob had his wakeup call. He reached out to a mental health professional. After some time focusing on his mental health and finding a new position within Best Buy, Bob says he’s happier than ever with his career.
“I got the help I needed,” Bob said. “It’s been a complete turnaround.”
He wanted to give Tony something that would convey his gratitude for the years of compassion and support from Tony. That’s when he decided to mail him his Geek Squad badge.
“It’s obviously a big deal,” Tony said. “[Bob] saw the badge as a shield and a fitting gift — that I was protecting and defending him along his journey. It’s been very humbling.”
Bob has also been inspired to pass on the same type of support and listening ear he received to others on the forums. He says the biggest value of the forums is providing a safe space for people to ask questions and help one another grow.
“These forums can take folks who start in an angry position and, through some understanding and time, watch them as they develop into the next future leader,” Bob said.