09 February 2011


I read his post and smiled.
It's more than a little weird how much our Fathers were alike, we Boomers.
I think they modeled themselves after the heroes they saw on the big screen as they grew up-
Randolph Scott. Bogart. Gary Cooper. John Wayne.
Bigger than life. Tough. Stoic. Get the job done well. Never let anyone see ya cry.

His Dad was like mine in so many ways.
I've written here before about Dad and how everyone knew he was able to do most things well...
Many of those things he did BETTER than anyone else.
And he knew it.
Another thing I think most of the men of that generation also had in common...
They were proud, and one of the few things that really scared them was the thought of being embarrassed in front of others.
Dad hated that. When we were both men I noticed he'd often not take on a task if he feared he couldn't do it well.

He quit school after 9th grade and took a job delivering telegrams on a bicycle.
He joined the Indiana National Guard and on his 20th birthday...
December 7, 1941, he received an unimaginable, ugly present.
He went off to war in the Pacific, took a chunk of shrapnel to his foot, and his Purple Heart earned him a trip home a couple months before the war ended.
He took a job with Indianapolis Power and Light Company as a grunt lineman, and after 36 years found himself in a job titled "Multi-crew foreman"... mid-level management.
For years I'd hear him grumble about his immediate boss. He liked the guy personally, but there was always something Dad could see that could have been done differently to make the work more efficient. Sometimes he'd make suggestions to his boss and the boss would implement my Dad's ideas, then accept the praise without letting others know the ideas originated with Dad.
I know now how that must have hurt and irritated my old man.
But he always knew someday his boss would retire and that job would be his. And knowing that made the irritations and slights bearable.

My Dad was 62 when his boss retired. The company interviewed several men for the position, including Dad, but since Dad was the most senior guy... the guy that knew the job better than anyone, he was SO confident the position would be his. He could then spend the next three years before retirement showing everyone how much better he could do the job than his predecessor.

But another man got the job...
A MUCH younger man.
It was a crushing blow. Dad soothed his own ego by telling himself the company made that decision so they wouldn't have to go through the process again in three years.
But he was hurt. And embarrassed.
He put in his retirement papers.

Dad lived another 20+ years in retirement, and he and Mom lived well. Money wasn't a problem. They traveled, Wintered in the South. Bought and enjoyed nice things. When he died he left my Mom financially situated so the biggest complaint she now has is why the cook in her "Elegant Senior Living" facility, (and it IS), is replaced so often she can't get accustomed to the food they serve her and the other "elegants" twice a day in the beautiful dining room.
Dad, ya done good! Thank you.

So now I'm older than Dad was when he retired, and although I still LOVE my job I too am irritated by the little things I think I could be doing better than my mid-level and higher managers. And there's always the question in the back of my mind...
"Is it time to hang up my wings?"

Dad knew when to pull the trigger.
I hope I do.


Timothy Frazier said...

Don't sell yourself short, Blogfriend. You are an enviable storyteller, and despite your humility in the comment you left at my post, you write as well or better than I. Thanks for the link, the compliments, and simply writing on the subject.

Aside from inciting memories and deserved tributes to our ancestors, I also hope these sorts of posts will inspire some of those C-level and upper management types out there who might run across them to see things just a little differently.

You are obviously one of your dad's greatest accomplishments, and your skills at writing and the pure common sense you display in your posts is a constant living tribute to him.

Pride. Those ol' farts had pride, and courage. Even the weakest and smallest of stature among them wouldn't back down from a righteous fight. I think that's what a lot of folks in my generation need to to regain.

Old NFO said...

Good points GB, another thing is they were NOT prone to fail, but if they did, they got back up and went on, and never complained. Your Dad obviously did the right thing, as he probably knew the younger guy hired as the super. We are now getting to that age, and I'm looking at another 4 years and I'm done...