They Come and They Go

I was a young, green technician.  Leonard was a battle-scarred veteran, that hired on in the middle fifties.

Leonard had been around for a long time. Long enough to see many managers come and go.  Just a few years away from a full pension, he didn’t scare easily.

It seemed his workplace was the proving ground for new managers. New managers introduced ceremoniously by parades of other managers. “I love a parade,” Leo muttered under his breath.

In the military, newly commissioned officers were called “jet jobs.”  Would this newbie adhere to the script? Probably. Crack down at first, to show who was in charge, then slack off a bit.

New managers started by riding along with specially selected employees. The purpose was to get acquainted, also, to suggest more efficient ways to work.

Leonard was wise to such tactics. He’d listen to suggestions, then explain pros and cons, why these new methods wouldn’t work in the real world.

Wait long enough, this manager would be gone–just like the rest of them. Kicked upstairs, transferred, or sent wherever. Because managers came and went–you could count on it.

“FIERY FARTS OF THE WICKED”

DSCN0270

A Bible verse that was often parodied by wiseacres, symbolized the plight of two adolescent boys; and a day packed with extreme emotional highs and lows.

We were too big to cry–but not for pouting.  “Just wait till I grow up–I’ll show him,” Said my little brother.  “I’m going to be bigger and stronger.’

I internalized my dissatisfaction.  I’m going to do this if it kills me.  If I get stepped on by a cow and get killed–then he’ll be sorry.

Dad’s words stung worse than the whipping we got with switches from a front yard tree.  For what it’s worth–it was a Kentucky coffee tree.

“I told you two, to go down to the barn, bed down the cattle, and have it done before I got back.  You guys deliberately disobeyed me.  Go cut me some switches.  Don’t get little ones either!  I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget.”

Dad was a delegate to church conference, in a town two hours away.  It lasted all day.  My brother and I decided to blow dad off.  Our priorities were elsewhere.  After all, he wouldn’t be home till after dark.  What were the chances he’d go to the barn and check?

The tension built.  Dad’s car was in the drive.  That meant he was home.  Where was he?  He knew us better than we realized.  The jig was up.

“For disobeying, you guys are going down to the barn in the dark, and do what you were supposed to have done in the first place.  Take these two flashlights–and do the job right!  I’ll be checking your work.”

Surprisingly, the flashlights provided enough light to work.  One of us climbed into the loft, tossed down bales of straw. Then we cut baling wire ties and spread the straw.

Some of the cattle were lying down–others were standing.  They milled around after being awakened.  We worked around them.  Some cows expelled gas as they stood, in explosions of flatulence.  Then more, still more in a symphony of flatulence.

One of us mock directed Johann Strauss waltzes to flatulent accompaniment.  It was hilarious.  We laughed uncontrollably. The night’s misery was broken; not just broken–shattered to pieces.  Nobody could ever know the tale of two disobedient boys and, “The Fiery Farts of Wicked Bovine.”