Thirty Years and Counting
Today marks the beginning of Tuesday Tributes. You can read about it here. I've decided to dedicate my first tribute post to one of God's finest creations... my husband! Today marks the 30th anniversary of the day he started working at his place of employment. Reaching that milestone is not all that common in today's world of transient workers, and I am so very proud of him!
Back in 1981, he was twenty-seven years old and had quit his job the day before he walked into the truck accessories shop to pick up a friend's truck. The harried owner, just two years older than John, was trying to handle sales and installation at his rapidly growing business. Customers where everywhere, and he clearly had his hands full.
John's friend commented to the owner "Looks like you could use some help around here." Larry (the owner) replied, "It's hard to find somebody that wants to work."
The friend said, "John here is looking for a job." Larry said, "Is that right?" and asked if John knew anything about installing truck accessories. John said "No, but I'm willing to learn."
He started work the next day as the sole installer while Larry handled sales. In fifteen years time John had worked his way up to the position of General Manager overseeing sales, installation, freight, inventory, and maintenance. Over the next twenty five years with John's capable assistance, Larry went on to turn the business into a multi-million dollar operation.
Larry retired in 2004, and his son James took over as Vice President with John continuing to oversee daily operations as General Manager. James had been just three years old when John first began working there, and used to follow him around the shop wanting to help. They have an amazing work relationship and have continued to be the closest of friends all these years. James has three young sons of his own now that follow John around the shop just as James once did. When John makes them paper airplanes, James smiles... remembering when John made them for him many years ago.
John will tell you that he's just a "corn-fed farm boy", spending time on his Grandpa's farm in East Texas after his father died when he was three years old. The farm was sold when John's Grandma died four years later, and he spent the next ten years of his life being bounced from town to town, accompanying his mother and alcoholic stepfather. In the sixth grade he attended five schools, in five different towns and amazingly still passed! John quit school at sixteen so that he could get a job to help support his mother. He got married and became a father at the age of seventeen.
From the age of 16 until he started his current job at 27, John worked at approximately thirty different jobs. His current job was the first place he'd ever worked long enough to earn paid vacation. John and Larry got along great, becoming close friends. John liked the work, and also discovered that he enjoyed working with the public. The truth is he excels at it! There is never a time when we go out in our community of 100,000 people, that at least one person doesn't come up to say hello and shake his hand. And, John can tell me exactly how many years he's "been knowin' them" (Texas speak). It seems everybody in West Texas drives a truck and likes to dress them up. John asks customers, "You don't want to drive a naked truck, do you?" :-)
John continues to work six days a week, often nine hours a day, standing on his feet at the counter, greeting customers and making sales. I don't know how he does it, but somehow he does, and he does it well. He is highly respected in the community.
Co-workers, friends, and family members tell me that John has mellowed considerably over the years. He says he came by that Irish temperament naturally. While I've only had the privilege of having him in my life for the past three years, and I can attest that he is the sharpest, sweetest, most tender-hearted, most honest and straight-forward man that I've ever known. John says that becoming a Freemason sixteen years ago has taught him to regard his fellow man with kindness and compassion. Additionally, he has a delightful sense of humor. It is not uncommon to see a twinkling in his eye that indicates little Johnny (about age 5) is about to come out and amuse us all. I've never known anyone with a gift for making folks laugh so easily.
I also have to note that John is 100% old school. The employees under his supervision love and respect him, while knowing that he won't tolerate nonsense or slacking. He carries these standards of conduct over into his personal life too. He's been known to walk up to a group of young people at a public event and remind them to watch their language because "there are ladies and children present", if their conversation is becoming too colorful and loud.
Shortly after I became engaged to John, I was talking with an insurance agent who has known him for over 30 years. He told me that I was getting a really good man. "John is the real deal" he said, and he was absolutely right. Every moment that we've spent together in the past three years has been a blessing to me, and I look forward to growing old together.
Happy 30th Work Anniversary Honey! You've given them your very best, and I know they love you like family. I could not be prouder of you! It is an honor and a privilege to be your wife.