Thursday, April 15, 2010
A FINE LINE BETWEEN DEDICATION AND STUPIDITY
After my life-altering accident in 1995, my days centered around getting up from the hospital bed in our library, Gerald giving me a shower, helping me to get dressed, lying in the back of the car as he drove me to Marysville, helping me out of the car onto my crutches and walking me into the building, and then he went to work in Springfield. He spent an extra 100 miles each day taking me to work! At work, the only thing I could do was either stand or lie down so I spent my days walking on the crutches with a can of Coca Cola permanently attached to my right hand. At nine a.m., I would go to the restroom and lie down for 15 minutes. At lunchtime, I would lie down for 30 minutes and at 2:00 p.m., I would lie down for 15 minutes and at 4:00 p.m. for another 15 minute break. Gerald had to wait for me to finish work at 6:00 p.m.; as soon as I was in the car, I had another Coca Cola and a Vicodin, then back home where Gerald helped me undress and he and Les helped me to the hospital bed and I had supper in bed. Fortunately, we worked four 10-hour days so Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a blessing.
The morning of my accident was on Thursday and my first phone call was to my boss requesting a vacation day. I told him that I'd had a "little accident" and that I would be back on Monday. At that time I didn't actually know the extent of my injuries. He had our secretary Patty call the hospital and she learned that my accident wasn't "little". Patty called me the next day and told me that the "vultures are lined up scheming to take your job".
To this day, I don't know how I was able to return to work the following Monday, but I did. I was so damned mad about those guys scheming that I was determined to get out of that bed and go to work even with the fractured vertebrae, broken nose, facial lacerations, edema in my thighs where my knees hit the steering wheel, ear nearly severed, and on crutches. I had never missed a day of work in my life and I wasn't about to start then.
Gerald told me that he wouldn't take me to work because it was "stupid" and that NOBODY else would go to work in that condition. I told him I would drive myself. He was crying and I was crying, but I was determined to go to work and he agreed to take me, because he knew that I was going to work regardless of my condition!
I told Patty that it was worth it just to see the looks on "the vultures" faces when I walked onto that manufacturing floor and started the line. My boss, John allowed me to start the line and then told me to go to his office. He said, "Sit down." I told him that I couldn't sit because of the compression fractures. He said, "You know that you don't need to do this and that you should be at home." I told him that I HAD to be there and that if I were at home I would just lie there feeling sorry for myself. I told him that Patty had told me about the vultures. He laughed and said, "The reason I brought you here in the beginning is because they couldn't do the damned job." He told me that two of the "vultures" had actually had the nerve to approach him OFFERING to take my job while I was recovering and he told them that HE would take my place! I asked him what they said, and John said, "Nothing; they just slunk away like the weasels they are." John laughed and said, "I was looking forward to seeing if I could do your job." Although it hurt to laugh, I laughed and told him that the only reason I came in was that I felt sorry for him.
So what did I learn from all of this? Was I appreciated any more than anybody else? Of course not. Did I think nobody else could do the job? Of course not. I'd learned in 1982 that no one is irreplaceable; there's always somebody else to fill one's job [especially if ONE is the brother-in-law of a Superintendent!] but I felt certain that nobody would do it as well! My Team Members put forth a tremendous effort and never missed production. SHOULD I have done it? Of course not. I should have stayed at home, gone to therapy daily, had plastic surgery and recovered at a reasonable pace. I gained 40 pounds because of the lack of activity and drinking twelve Cokes a day and my back still hurts today.
When it was announced that our parent company had decided to "pull the plug" on the Marysville operation, my boss called me to his office and told me that I had to be the one to shut it down. He had tears in his eyes as he asked me to sign a contract agreeing that I would not seek other employment until work was completed. In return for this sad duty the Company would give me six months severance. I told him that I did not want to be the one to shut it down and he said that he had nobody else who had the balls and could hold up under the pressure and that it had to be accomplished by May 18. I accepted the responsibility. We completed the work on May 15.
As my brother told me, "There's a fine line between dedication and stupidity and I think you just crossed over the line!"