"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Time In-Between and Learning to Tie Ones Shoes – Spending Time I

“If you don’t believe the dead come back to life, you should be around here at quitting time.” 

This quote was on a poster that had been pinned to a cork board in the factory where I worked.  One of the supervisors, I am sure, must have seen the humor in it and was trying to give his employees an indirect message.  I saw the humor in it too, because sure enough, as soon as that final buzzer sounded, the employees would run from the building as if it had burst into flames and they were fleeing for their lives.  Yeah, I laughed at the quote, too; but I was also one of those whom had run.  We all wanted to get out of that parking lot as quickly as we could to avoid the daily traffic jam that was sure to develop on the highway in front of the factory in this busy, metropolitan area.

So the quote on the poster was meant to imply, that the employees lackadaisically worked throughout the day until it was time to go home.  It was only then that they came to life with any sort of energy.  Now, I know I was not one of those employees.  I had a love/hate relationship with this job, but I also know I was a hard worker and I tried diligently to set a pace that would be above what was expected.  I had a reputation with the quality control inspectors, as one who would never have a “pick-up”.  I learned this fact one day, when early on in my career, one of the inspectors said to me, “OH!  So you’re the one that never has a pick-up!” 

Huh!  What is that supposed to mean?  I worriedly wondered.  I quickly learned that “pick-ups” were mistakes the inspectors found before sending the finished product to shipping.  The inspector would label it as a mistake, so the mechanic could come back and correct the error.  The mechanic?  That would be me.  We were called aerospace mechanics and though it wasn’t really an assembly line, we were assemblers building the interiors of airplanes, i.e. over head storage compartments; seats; etc.  Sooo, not having any “pick-ups” was a good thing, I had learned on this particular day. Anyway, all of that to say, no, I was not one of the “dead” that only came to life at quitting time.  My whole day was spent in 5th gear, it seemed.

And the fast pace began the moment I arrived each morning. In the same way, I ran out of that building to avoid the traffic jam, I also ran into the building to punch the time clock before the 7:00 buzzer sounded.  They were strict, at this place of business and I do mean STRICT.  If one wanted to keep their job, one had better not be late, and the employees were not allowed very many tardies on their records. 

I have never been a morning person…well at least if it means leaving the house.  I like to rise early, but I like to spend the first hour or two in solitude, quietness, and comfort.  I just didn’t get to do that when I worked these 8 years in the aerospace industry.  I always had to be there by 7:00 am and often times I had to be there at 5:00 am because much of the time, mandatory overtime was required.  Though, I only lived 10 or 15 minutes from work (in the mornings anyway; it was much longer when stuck in traffic jams trying to get home) I almost always pushed the limit of tardiness.  Without fail I ran into that building each day, punching that clock exactly at 7:00 am.  I often times came in with my shoes untied, or my jacket with an arm in only one sleeve, because if I had taken the time to tie the shoes, or put on the jacket, the seconds would have added up and I would have been late - if only by seconds, it was still classified as a tardy.

Well, this is my youth, ok….young and foolish…just a little, I guess.  But I will never forget the time my boss saw me run in with my shoe laces untied.  He watched me punch the clock in the nick of time.  “Jannie”, he said with a twinkle in his eye, “if you ever trip over those laces, it will finally be the day you punch in late!”

I laughed.  As long as he was calling me "Jannie", I knew I was still in favor.

So anyway, I guess this post is about time clocks and the nick of time, and not so much about the dead coming back to life.  But it’s also about the fact that I ran in to start my day, in the same way I ran out: full speed; while seeking inspector approved quality for the time smooshed in-between the two.

Shouldn't we not only spend our career time striving for quality; but shouldn't our lives be lived this same way. Charging in to handle the tasks set before us; seeking to do the best job we can for the One who has appointed us to those tasks, but just as excited to finish the race so that we might hear those important words: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  I think so.

I have lots of funny stories about my days at the airplane factory.  I don’t know why, but I decided to write down a few of these memories.  Not all of them will be funny, some will be written with a certain amount of fondness, some a lesson, hopefully none with bitterness or regret.  Hmmm, well, most likely a few will be with regret. I think life without regrets would be arrogance, wouldn’t it? We are all bound to trip over a shoe lace once in a while.  Hopefully, somewhere along the line, I have at least learned to tie my shoes.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3: 13-14

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