Sunday, April 20, 2014

 In 1972 I was digging a bearing out of the sand at the bottom of a 20' deep pit under the floor of the Midwest Foundry. I looked up at the top of the ladder and my boss the Maintenance Foreman was looking down into ...the pit. I decided that I was on the wrong end of the ladder.
It took 10 years and 4 job changes but I worked my way up out of the pit.
I had taken college courses and technical courses to better my skill set. I worked long hours and did what I was asked to do and more. When I finally got a supervisors job at United Technologies it was really very much like climbing out of a hole into the light. Each step up the corporate ladder at United Tech brought me into a bigger arena with more opportunities.
Do I regret digging out the bearing? No. That's what got me started. The apprenticeship that I served at the foundry working with my father and the other 10 guys in the maintenance department taught me the basic skills of doing a job.
a. Some of the crews would screw around for half the shift and then work like hell to get done before the boss came in. We would work hard at the start of the shift and get everything done then prep for the next days work. If there was a tool needed or a special part we had time to get it around.
b. One of the guys on another crew held up a roll of plastic tape and said it was hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, and mechanical tape. When the lines would fail he was always having to dig out hoses or switch runs to repair them, with more tape.
We would cut out and replace the leaking hoses on the pouring line dumpers every weekend and seldom had a line down from a burnt hose, or shorted wiring.
c. It always took two guys a full eight hours to remove 3 links from the elevator chain in shell shakeout.
The first night we were given the task I asked what we did with the links after we took them out. I learned that we pitched the worn out pieces in the scrap pile. That night rather than spend 4 hours driving out the pins, with sledge hammers and punches, we cut the links with a cutting torch, pulled the pins with our fingers, and rejoined the chain. We were done in 4 hours and the next time we were done in 3.
Working hard is good. Working hard and thinking is better.
Following my Dad I learned the most important lesson. People will follow you almost anywhere you lead. Never give an order you wouldn't do yourself.
Knowledge is power. When people can believe what you say they are willing to listen.

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