Sunday, November 6

Sunday, November 06, 2011...As the Flame Dwindles, Understanding flares Up...

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Many years ago, I started my working career as a lowly worker in a large company which was considered one of the three best paying employers in our local area... and certainly the very best in our town. I continued to work for that company, until in my twenty fifth year of service; they sold the department in which I worked so long, (actually a business in itself) to a small...but successfully growing family business...which already had two facilities in Pennsylvania. I decided to leave my original employer to work for the new owner. The old business had undergone changes in ownership at least six times while I was with them and was now owned by an overseas corporation and no longer family oriented. We had lost such things as a family picnic once a year, a Christmas bonus, an appreciation day meal and other such smaller perks throughout the years and the security of employment was dwindling daily also. I had worked my way from a laborer of minimum wage, to one of the highest paid hourly workers in the plant and was a department planner/leader when I terminated my employment to remain with the department as a superintendant of the facility for the new owners. I had nine employees working for me in three shifts, around the clock. My job was performing upkeep to the entire facility, performing carpentry, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, welding & fabricating, heating, air conditioning and miscellaneous repairs to the grounds and roadways. In addition, we kept all of the machines and production equipment running to producing product, which meant fixing malfunctioning it electrical, mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic in nature. My duties were to perform the above, along with creating O.S.H.A. programs and compliance guidelines, maintaining a parts inventory, capital investements in equipment replacement, developing a yearly budget, maintaining a working preventative maintenance program within the computer, meeting with vendors and provide a training program for my mechanics, plus do yearly performance reviews and period reports.
I trained all my people to perform the multi-tasks necessary to keep the facility running and producing cast iron products for industry.
As I look back, I may have taken my job too seriously, but gee whiz...that’s what I was paid to do! Management often referred to me as "a petulant, impatient, but brilliant perfectionist in his field..... one capable of turning out good mechanics in record time, able to function in all fields of maintenance and repair satisfactorily."
My mechanics however initially considered me harsh, nasty, demanding and expectant of far too much performance...too fast...and highly critical of their efforts. Later they came to realize I was pungently honest and sometimes hurtful in delivering assessments to their efforts. When I was young, I admired clever people, watching them...learning from them...imitating whatever brilliance I could collect and use to my benefit in constantly climbing that ladder of success.
Now that I am old, I admire kind people...those who bend the truth to be kind. As Robert Breault, the American operatic performer known for his strong acting skills and diverse repertoire in opera throughout America and abroad once stated, “Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true”.
Vick is my mentor in that she would never utter a word that would offend another person, for she learned a long time ago that you never judge a person by their demeanor, for you don’t know the road they must traverse. I was usually brutally rude to anyone that didn’t live up to his capabilities, let alone my own standards! I would say you came to me for this job...I told you what I expected and I’ve paid you for each and every minute you’ve been here, but you haven’t made good on your promise to perform for me....

I guess I actually demanded excellence in all areas of their working life, and thought that basically...if someone was not, in my opinion, excellent......I felt justified in telling them my opinion of their work; their performance and career standing.
As I look back...I know I was secretly scorned among my employees...for expecting from them what they easily saw I lacked in myself. I had endured two nasty, ugly divorces as a result of both my personal actions and those associated with this ever so demanding job. At the time, they didn’t understand that my personal struggles and failures weren’t at all important to their careers...What was important was their performance and the improvement of their skills, which they today rely on...and are the gift which I gave them, that will remain with them until the day they die...untouchable by others. They all lost their jobs when the plant closed after my retirement....but they didn’t lose what my gruff nature and demands on them created. They are still the owners of the excellent skills and knowledge I demanded they know and master. I knew that those skills would one day, be much more personal and far more important to them than the struggles and failures I experienced in my journey.
I believe each individual mechanic will not admit the skills they rapidly gained struggling under such leadership, until they retire and look back upon their working career and marvel at the gifts they received along the way...not only from me, but other older co-workers. You never realizing until after you retire that your working career had such an impact on your everyday life and those around you. Thus, as the flame of labor dwindles, the inferno of gratitude in understanding flare up to warm your soul...... You can be told a million times that you’ve done a good job, but only once, do you need to really feel it in your soul to become satisfied with your efforts.
It is much more tranquil being a kind person these days....
Thanks Vick...I’m trying and I love you for it!

043786Cluckin' "A" Critter Farm, LLC

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