CLOWNS TO THE RIGHT OF ME

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So my boss comes into my office one day and sits in my chair behind my desk. It used to be his office so I guess he must have felt it was OK. We had switched offices sometime earlier. He liked my southern exposure I suppose.

I sat opposite him in one of the visitor chairs on the  other side of my desk. Larry folded his hands together like circus tents and beat his fingers together the way butterflies beat their wings.

“What clown came up with this bright idea? He demanded to know.

“What idea and who are you calling a clown?” I asked.

Then he stood up and proceeded to peer over the desk at my shoes.

“What are you looking at?”

“I just wanted to now if you were wearing those clown shoes I got you, is all.”

Stuck in the middle again….

Rice Bowl

Rice Bowl

I was having dinner the other night with my granddaughter at a Korean restaurant in Southern Indiana called The Rice Bowl. I had the Bibimbap and Jade was having the Korean Noodle Soup. While we were enjoying our delicious and succulent repast and having a pleasant conversation, I was reminded of something one of my first bosses used to say to me many years ago. I decided to share it with Jade.

“Don’t break your rice bowl,” he would say.

Now Jade allowed that this was  a pretty cool thing to say, but I could tell by the quizzical look on her face that she wasn’t quite sure what it meant.

“What’s that mean?” she asked.

“Well.” I said, “if any of us were doing anything wrong he would warn us not to break our rice bowl. It was his way of saying, don’t put your job in jeopardy.”

She still didn’t quite get it so I further elucidated, “You see, when you work, you get money. With the money you get food. If you lose your job, you can’t buy food. Thus, don’t break you rice bowl.”

“Oh!”

It was an aha moment of the first magnitude. I could see the look of understanding cross her countenance which of course brought a smile to mine.

I had a hell of a time explaining guerrilla warfare to her father back in the 70’s.

LABOR DAY

Anchor Salem (2)

I worked in the glass industry for 35 years. I was the Human Resoureces Manager for the above pictured factory in Salem, New Jersey for over 10 years. This factory is now closed. The workers have now retired or gone to other glass factories in the area or have gone on to other endeavors. When it was fully operational we had three glass melting furnaces, eight glass forming machines and employed 350 workers including 34 supervisors and managers. We operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week 360 days of the year. We made over two million bottles a day.

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We were a union shop with two unions and four locals. Each local had a president. I am extremely proud of the men and women who worked at Anchor Salem and I am proud of my service there.

I would like to salute them on this labor day and remember them with this essay I wrote some time back regarding work:

There is nothing more disheartening that endless futile labor or doing something you absolutely loathe or have a fundamental problem with. As you might recall, Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of rolling a rock up a steep mountain incline only to have it roll back to the valley again once he got it to the top. On his way back down the mountain, he had to think about his existential position.

Looked at in another way, work is applied effort. It is what we put ourselves into…whatever we expend our energy on for the sake of accomplishing something. Work in this fundamental sense is not what we do for our living, but what we do with our living.

Happiness resides in activity, both physical and mental. It resides in doing things that one can take pride in doing well. Those who have missed the joy of work, of a job well done, have missed something very important.

All work can be done well or it can be done poorly. All work can be done cheerfully and with pride or grudgingly and with distaste. Whichever way we do it is really up to us. It is a matter of choice. There are no menial jobs. Only menial attitudes. In the theater we say there are no small parts, only small actors.  Our attitudes are up to us. A laborer is worthy of his hire.

As Sisyphus presses his face against the rock, each atom of the stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain itself forms a world. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Believe me, there was no one who worked harder, or with greater joy than the employees at Anchor Glass Container, Salem, New Jersey.

 

 

 

Happiest Day of My Life

Islands in the stream

In the novel Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway, the main character, Thomas Hudson, is asked by the aging prostitute, Honest Lil, what was the happiest day of his life. Hudson replied as follows, “The happiest day I ever had was any when I woke in the morning when I was a boy and I did not have to go to school or work.”

Wow! Me too!

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Now I have come full circle, I have worked for 50 years, I got an education, and now I am retired. My happiest days are any where I wake up in the morning and I don’t have to go to school or to work. That is why I am reluctant to go back to work. My happiest days are here now.