Friday, February 19, 2010
"Sarge" was one of my fellow supervisors at IH. He had retired from the Army and expected to conduct business as if he were still in the Army. Dealing with the UAW was a rude awakening for him. To this day, each time I see him he asks if the Committeeman who had been in his area, is still alive and he proceeds with a rant against him. Every mean prank ever thought of by a worker was done to him: the grease on the telephone, water on the chair seat, phony messages, graphite on the safety glasses, trips to fetch non-existent items such as "air hooks" and directing weld spray at his clothing. I was surprised by his gullibility especially with his having been in the military. I tried to instruct him, but he was obviously not about to take advice or direction from a female.
"Sarge" was very spoiled by his wife, Judy, who did not work outside the home. His clothes were always perfectly coordinated and pressed. Our lunch time was always an event because of "Sarge" and his lunchbox. When he opened his lunch box, his orange had already been peeled, divided into sections, wrapped in a napkin and sealed in a plastic bag to guarantee freshness. His sandwiches were separated by bread in one bag, condiments in another bag, meat in another bag and all of these stacked together in the order of his desired assembly. His cookies were homemade. He had a little baggie with his vitamins. He had antiseptic wipes in his lunch box.
Of course, all the rest of us were totally envious of him. I even told him that I needed a wife like his! One day "Sarge" told us that his wife had started to work outside the home. A few days later, he was getting his lunch out of his lunchbox and we noticed an orange was just tossed in the lunch box, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich already packaged, and at last, when he was expecting to have his dessert, he held up a packaged apple pie and with a look of amazement and sadness; he asked, "What am I supposed to do with this?" The other guys were holding themselves laughing and one said, "You're in the real world now!"
One Friday, I asked "Sarge" what he was going to do that weekend. He told me that he was going to meet his daughter. I knew that he and Judy had two sons and I said, "I didn't know you had a daughter." He said, "I didn't either until two weeks ago." He then told me the story of how he and his childhood sweetheart learned that she was pregnant and her parents had taken her away and he was told that the baby would be given up for adoption. She was sixteen and he was seventeen. Although he tried to have contact with the girlfriend, all of his letters were returned. After awhile he quit trying and he joined the Army. He never knew if the baby was a boy or girl. The girlfriend had not given up the baby, but she died in an automobile accident when the baby was little and the grandparents reared her as their own child. When the grandparents died, her aunt told her the truth. She was twenty-five when she began the search for her father. One of the things she did was advertise in the "Stars and Stripes" military newspaper as the aunt had told her that her father had joined the Army. "Sarge" still had his military benefits and one day, he'd gone to Wright Patterson for a medical appointment and he picked up the "Stars and Stripes" and in the personal ads was a message from his daughter. He called her and they arranged to meet. The following Monday, I asked him about it and he couldn't stop talking about her. "It's amazing, she's so much like me--she even holds her cigarette the same way I do--and I have grandchildren and ironically her little boy has my name!" The last time I saw "Sarge" he told me that his daughter had moved to Springfield after her divorce and that his wife Judy and his daughter were like sisters.