Monday, August 27, 2007

Flashbacks Before 40 (continued)

Although the title is no longer quite accurate, I want to continue to share some pivotal times that I have been reflecting on the past week.

The first real part-time job that I had was at a boat shop when I was 16. A normal work week consisted of working everyday after school and all day on Saturdays. When school was out for the summer, I worked all day Monday through Saturday. I did not know anything about boats. In fact, I had probably only been on a boat just a couple of times in my life by then. I certainly had never pulled a trailer behind a car or truck either. At 16, I had just started driving.

Mr. Ken was the owner of the boat shop and a super employer. He was probably in his 50's when I started working there. Mr. Ken was shorter than I. He had jet black hair and wore reading glasses when he worked on stuff.

I did not make very much money and it was outside work so I was always hot and dirty. I worked there for about three years total before moving onto to life after high school with a "real" job. By the time that I quit working there, Mr. Ken had taught me a great deal about boats - rigging, mechanics, towing, driving, even skiing. But more importantly, he had taught me so much about life.

I remember one day I was trying to take some carburators off of an outboard motor, and one bolt would not coorperate. I tried several different angles with the wrench, but could not make any progress. I saw Mr. Ken walking towards me so I decided to let him remove the bolt for me. He walked up and wanted to know how things were coming. I whined and complained that I could not get one bolt to come out.

Mr. Ken stepped up on the bucket that I was using for a stool and, with his glasses down on the end of his nose, took a look at the stubborn bolt. He stared at it from side to side while I continued to plead my case. Finally, he said, "Uh huh," stepped off the bucket and went on his way. He left me there to figure out a way to get that bolt out. It took me awhile, but I finally realized that if I removed another part of the cowling I would be able to remove that bolt.

I have thought about that bolt and Mr. Ken many, many times over the years. I am thankful that he did not bail me out. He left it up to me to figure out how to get it done. He sent me out of town several times to deliver and/ or pick up boats for customers. I had not been driving very long, and had never pulled a trailer, but he trusted me. He gave me responsibilities that forced me to behave maturely and he helped me to become a man.

This could not have come at a better time in my life. My parents had just divorced. My first girlfriend was cheating on me. I was angry at all of them and at the world. I drank with my friends every night, and raced my hotrod car across the causeway on the weekends - often with a beer between my legs. I started each work day of summer by puking up the previous night's beer.

Fortunately, I survived all of that and never became addicted to alcohol, had any serious accidents, or had any kind of legal problems. The things that I learned back then help me today. Although I am not proud of those things, they were experiences that led to lessons that led to small victories in some of life's battles. Now, I am armed so that I can help my kids win their battles.

1 comment :


Careful, now, you're obcessing (or however it's spelled).