Come on, folks, surely there are stories to tell that the
rest of us could benefit from hearing. Here’s another of mine for you that you might
Way back in my technician days, I worked for a defense contractor
on the evening shift. I started there right after getting out of the Air Force in 1982.
In those days, a lot of the techs that worked for defense contractors had done time
in the service – usually Air Force or Navy – so it kind of generated a bit of camaraderie
amongst the crew. The new guys all worked the evening shift and most hoped to some day
gain a day shift slot as other guys moved on or were promoted. Promotion on day shift
usually meant rotating to night shift and staying there until that grade level became
available on day shift.
The day shift and night shift technician managers never
rotated shifts. The day shift guy was outgoing, refined, and popular with the engineering
staff. The evening shift guy was…not. I liked and respected the night shift manager
for his position, and he had retired from the Army many centuries earlier, so he fit
in in a way. His mannerism was gruff, I believe he didn’t own a comb, he waddled when
he walked, and spoke usually in short, rapid bursts. Oh, and his pants. He loved the
pants he wore – all two or three that he owned.
Now, I remember the fable about
the girl who always wore the same dress to school and was teased unmercifully by her
friends for obviously being a peasant. After all, no person of means would choose to
wear the same clothes every day. Finally, out of exasperation, the girl invited her
antagonists to her home to prove she told the truth, and the other girls were astonished
to learn that the girl lived in a palatial estate with a huge room and a huge closet
packed wall-to-wall with 100 of exactly the same dress. There is a moral in that story,
but mine has none, just a funny conclusion.
Our evening shift manager had, I
am certain, an entire closet full of brown and green (neither shade found in nature)
pants made of some synthetic material. Either that or he really did, as we all suspected,
wear the same pants for literally WEEKS at a time. Now, this is a guy who told stories
of how he would go for days at a time and neither he nor his wife would utter a word
to each other. The one did not necessarily dislike the other, it is just that after
40+ years of marriage, most of what needed to be said had already been said. He also
liked to tell everyone personally about his hemorrhoid operation where the doctor bent
him over a table, bottom up, and didn’t use enough anesthesia, but that one is for another
time. So is the story of the pocket knife that he would whip out without notice to fix
anything that needed fixing.
Any way, one night I got the idea of using the calendar
that hung on the wall in our area to mark a little “G” or “B” that corresponded to his
color du jour. Our suspicions were verified when on one occasion he went for four straight
weeks with the green pants. We know they were the same ones because we tracked food
Still, he kept management off our backs, and was pretty good at
smoothing the ruffled feathers of the Navy quality inspectors when they rejected our
assemblies, and he never lost his temper over anything. He also made sure everyone on
his shift had a charge number to charge to, and layoffs on the evening shift were nonexistent
in the four years I worked there. The guy was probably in his late 60s when I left the
company back in 1986 and has most likely passed on by now. My guess is that he was probably
buried in those green pants.