December 05, 2009
Originally published August 23, 2004
I've known Joe for a long time, and I know his wife and his children, too. I've gotten drunk at his house and I've showed my ass there. Ain't no big deal to Catfish. He's gotten drunk and showed his ass at my house, too.
I came to be his supervisor because of MY big mouth. I was asked at a "rap session" by a new production superintendent what shift I thought was the worst in the plant. "B Shift," I answered right away. "The supervisor doesn't run that crew. Catfish does." Two days later, I was taken off of "D" Shift and transferred to the B-crew. I wasn't one bit happy about it.
I decided right away that I was going to fire Catfish the first chance I got. I didn't like him at the time and I knew that we would have a... conflict of wills, so to speak. But that never happened. Catfish has a big mouth and he likes to bark, but I discovered that he was pretty damn good at his job. I'd give him an assignment, he'd give me a blast of shit about it, then he would go do the assignment. I can live with that.
I also discovered that B-Shift wasn't as bad as I first thought. I had some good operators working for me. In fact, I actually had a better crew than I did on D-Shift. They simply lacked leadership, and if you think that doesn't matter in how a crew operates, you never supervised people.
When I left Area 3 and went to the Acid Plant/Steam Plant, I recruited Catfish down there as quickly as I could. I was happy to have him on board. He was as loud-mouthed and as full of shit as ever, but he could operate those jobs. Hey, Joe? How many grievances did you file against me? I can remember four right now.
I can remember Joe walking into my office grinning like a mule eating briars. He'd throw grievance papers on my desk and say, "Here ya go, bow-legs. I'll see you at Step Three." Nothing personal and no animosity involved. If Joe thought he was being fucked, he didn't take it lying down. I didn't see anything wrong with that.
I think that's why we still get along today. Neither one of us took a fucking lying down.
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