Wednesday, July 11, 2012
WALKING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
After becoming a Manager at Rockwell, each morning I met with an Engineer who had been assigned to my Department. When I took over the Department, the most seasoned Engineer was assigned to the Department, because of the serious condition of the Department.
After our Department's Quality improved dramatically, the Engineering Department assigned a different, young Engineer to review the NDRs (the write-ups which would require Engineering consultation and approval) with me to "triage"!
Each day, the young Engineer, Ron, was prompt and very business-like. He always brought along a cup of coffee and I had my Coke setting there. He was deferential, calling me "Mrs.". The only personal conversations we'd had were about movies and we were both cineastes! One Monday, Ron asked, "Did you have a nice weekend? I understand it was your anniversary." I had taken a vacation day and Ron had to confer with my boss, who took my place in the Department that day. I said, "Yes, thank you, we went out to dinner with my brother and his wife as we share the same wedding anniversary day." I also mentioned that we had gone to see a movie. He inquired which movie. I answered, "Aurora Encounter." Ron said he hadn't heard of the movie; I knew he expected it to be an intellectual movie. I said, "We were so lucky to see my favorite actor in a tour de force performance." "WHO is that?", Ron asked, obviously impressed with the tour de force line. I said, very deadpan, "Jack Elam."
At that moment, Ron had taken a drink of coffee; he started laughing and choking and he spit the coffee on the desk, the documents and us! We jumped up, trying to clean up the coffee. I knocked over my Coke!
When we regained our composure, he said, "You WERE kidding about Jack Elam, weren't you?" I said, "Oh, no, my brothers and I have loved him ever since we saw him in old TV shows like Cheyenne and Sugarfoot."
I did an imitation of Elam, reciting this line from the movie Hawmps!: "I'm ready, I'm loose, I'm walking death and destruction!"
Ron asked, "Isn't he the one in Cannonball Run?" I exclaimed, "Another bravura performance."
Ron said, "No number of French and Italian words can convince me!" "I'm walking death and destruction!" became our inside joke.
After that, Ron and I became friends--as close friends as a 20-something and a 40-something can be! When he accepted a position with another company, I was invited to his going-away party and I was the only Management--and I might add--the only OLD person there. Several people there commented about those facts and Ron lifted a glass and toasted, "To the only person who loves Fellini AND Jack Elam!"
Of course I responded, "I'm walking death and destruction!"