Gut Rumbles

August 28, 2011


Originally published September 24, 2003

On October 9th of this year I will hit the 24-year milestone at work. I've been a supervisor for all but a year and a half of that time. I've worked at various levels of supervision, depending on where the latest reorganization placed me, but I've always been bossing people for most of my career.

I am pretty crusty and cranky, but those aren't bad attributes to have as a supervisor. You have to be the bad guy sometimes. I've proved over and over that I'm willing to be the bad guy, so I seldom have to do it anymore. I trained a lot of new supervisors by mentioning Matt Dillon of "Gunsmoke" as an example of a good supervisor. He was THE LAW in Dodge City and he carried a badge and a big hog-leg on his hip.

He never wanted to pull it. He preferred to use persuasion, fatherly advice or a stern warning to stop trouble in town. But when diplomacy didn't work, he'd whip out his sidearm and shoot somebody dead in the street if they called him out to draw. Supervisors in a chemical plant have to be willing to do the same thing, or they will never be able to supervise ANYBODY.

I wear the big hog-leg on my hip, and the last thing I ever want to do at work is BE FORCED to pull it, because I don't like doing that. But I WILL, and I have no regrets about doing it when faced with no other choice. Once I was called the "scalpmaster" because I had fired more people than any other supervisor in the plant.

I never fired anyone in my life. THEY got THEMSELVES fired. I just provided the paperwork, kept my ducks in a row and let those suicidal idiots sail their own boat off the waterfall. I talked to them, I attempted to persuade them, then I threatened them. Still, they wanted to shoot it out on the streets of Dodge City.

They lost the gunfight.

I enjoy a lot of the mentoring and the "let's try THIS" that I do with operators when things go wrong at the plant. I have a pretty good rapport with my operators and supervisors. They do what I ask them to do and I don't get much bullshit in response.

My boss calls it "mutual respect," and he is absolutely right.

That's all I ask in return. I'll never ask an operator to do anything that I'm not willing to do myself. But I will not tolerate an operator who tells me "No. I ain't gonna do that. It ain't my job."

I go into Matt Dillon mode when that happens. The miscreant gets three choices and if he has a brain in his head, he'll take #1.

#1: Shut up and go do it.

#2: Shut up, go do it, and file a grievance because I made you get up off your lazy ass and actually WORK for your paycheck.

#3: Tell me AGAIN that ain't gonna do it, and I'll suspend your ass so fast you won't know what hit you, and I'll do my level best to FIRE you, because you called me out on the street in Dodge City. I'm going to have to reach for the hog-leg then, and I WILL fire.

These are simple rules for supervisors and operators. I am puzzled by the fact that so many people can't follow them.

August 21, 2011

recheck that sample

Originally published September 24, 2003

I got word from the company nurse-practicioner yesterday to comfirm that I set a record on my blood test during my physical. I have the highest level of "good" cholesterol that she's ever seen in the plant after more than 10 years of doing medical exams. She asked me what I ate to achieve that level, which gave me a 72% "survivor factor" for NOT having a heart attack, ever. (anything over 28% is considered to be "excellent" at my age.)

I told her that I ate anything that would fit in a microwave anymore and that she really should have the lab recheck those results. She insisted that the results were correct because the stuff they ran in their OWN tests ran neck-and-neck with the lab results.

My liver enzymes are low. ("You don't drink anymore, do you?") BWHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! My blood sugar is low. ("Do you ever feel dizzy?" Only when I drink too much) My kidney function appears to be excellent. My potassium, calcium and other earthly elements tested extremely high. "What kind of vitamins do you take Rob? I want some of THOSE!"

When I replied wine, cigarettes and vodka, she didn't like that answer.

But I really don't take vitamins, I drink to excess and I eat trash food. I also come from a damned good gene pool, which makes me more hearty than the average bear. THAT'S where those lab results come from.

Let the pissers and whiners who DESERVE to die worry about "toxins" everywhere. I can EAT "toxins" and they don't bother me. Maybe that's a clue that that those who can't handle second-hand smoke, can't tolerate pesticides on their produce and despise the idea of a civilized world should just go die and let people such as I am, able to COPE instead of CROAK, take over the world.

We really don't want genetic weakness spawing a new generation. KILL THE WHINERS!!! Marry a redneck, bear a strong child, and save the world!

August 14, 2011

my boy

Originally published September 24, 2003

I spent a lot of time today thinking about Quinton in that football game last night. I was really pissed at his ballerina performance. I've seen that boy play football in my front yard when he tackles like a kamakazi and runs like the wind. Why did he act like such a pussy last night?

Barebacked in the yard, he is a hellion. Put a helmet and shoulder pads on him and he becomes a total wuss.

I need to figure it out this weekend, because I don't want to see my boy being a wuss on the football field. If he doesn't want to play, that's fine. But if he is GOING TO PLAY, then by Bejus PLAY!

You may believe that I am a demanding father, but Quinton will get this job right or I'll make him quit. I don't EVER want to teach him that half-assed is okay. It's not.

If I ever teach him that lesson, he'll grow up to be a liberal.

August 07, 2011


Originally published September 26, 2004

Here is the tail-end of an email I received today about Quinton and football.

Give him time to be a kid, Rob. Adulthood comes all too soon and most often, all too painfully. Let him be to figure things out for himself, too.

Tall Dogs begin as short dogs--am I wrong?

All the best anyway--jb

JB wrote some nice things about life in general and kids in particular in the rest of that email. But he was writing from a different perspective than what I have witnessed myself. Here was my reply:

I just want to see Quinton be serious, JB. Football was MY game and I love it with a passion. Yeah, I got hurt playing it and some of those injuries still nag me today. You know what? IT WAS WORTH IT!

I just fear that the BC has put him in so many sports programs for so much of his life that he doesn't care about ANY of them anymore. He just goes through the motions because he is expected to.

I live in Soccer Mom Central, man. In a lot of ways, it's a goddam "keep up with the Jones'" frenzy about making a kid playing SOMETHING all the time. I
objected to it when I was married. The BC didn't like my objections. "All his friends do it, and he'll feel left out if he doesn't play soccer/baseball/basketball/wrestling/." And now football.

The fucking truth is, SHE would have felt outdone by the OTHER Soccer Moms if she just let Quinton play games he invented himself. That crap those
hormone-crazed moms do up here has very little to do with athletics. It has a lot to do with status, (I haul more kids! I bring more refreshments! I haul
all the neat equipment! I am more INVOLVED!) and that status doesn't involve "The Children." Like hens in a chicken coop, those bitches COMPETE for those titles much more fiercely than the kids play on whatever goddam field they are on that day.

JB, did you ever have a summer when you were a child, when the days out of school seemed to stretch farther than your eyes could see, and you did nothing but what YOU wanted to do until that time finally ran out? I know you did, because you're only a year younger than I am.

My son has never known that feeling. He's never had a summer like that in his life since he started school. And I believe that he missed something that I will treasure the rest of my life. I wonder how many soccer games he'll remember when he is 51 years old. I remember LOTS of totally unchoreographed days in the woods with my friends when we made our own adventures.

Look at it from MY perspective, JB.


My entire point is that he DOES NOT have time to be a kid. He's had a goddam part-time job on top of school since he was six years old. You know when he gets to be a kid? When he is with ME!

I let him. I really believe that he likes visiting with me for that reason. One thing the BC has not been able to program out of his head is his love for me.

When I got out of my... uh, "difficulties" two years ago, I still had a restraining order hanging over my head, so I had my brother call the house to see if I could visit with Quinton. I had not seen my son in 45 days, and he never returned a reply to the letters I wrote him every day. The BC said that she would speak with me and not call the sheriff.

"Can I pick up Quinton and take him over to Mom's house today? I'll bring him back at 6:00."

"What makes you think he WANTS to see you, Rob? He knows what you did and he knows where you've been. He is scared to death of you right now."

"Let me talk to him," I asked. (aside:"Quinton, it's your daddy. Do you want to talk to him?" I hear the phone rattle.)

"DADDEEEE! Are you gonna come see me? I've missed you a lot!" So much for the BC's opinion of my relationship with my son.

He was six years old at the time. I picked him up shortly thereafter and went over to mama's house. Quinton and I took a walk in the woods and I told him stories about tree-forts and adventures I had back there when I was just a little bit older than he was. We got rained on coming back to mama's and we ducked under an awning at Hesse Elementary to wait out the rain.

When it was over, we walked down the sidewalk on Old Montgomery road, and Quinton passed under a tree with low-hanging branches. "Hey, Quinton!" I said. "Want to see a dirty trick?"

"Sure," he replied. I grabbed a limb and shook the tree. He got soaked with raindrops. From there, all the way back to mama's house, he kept trying to play the same dirty trick on me. He'd find a tree where HE could reach a bottom limb and look down at the sidewalk. "Daddy, you really need to come look at THIS," he said, trying to lure me into the trap.

I would walk up, grab a limb he couldn't reach and shake the tree with him under it. Yeah, I wet his young ass AGAIN. "AW MAN!" he always said.

"You're dealing with a Tall Dog, son. A Tall Dog ain't easy to fool. You play with a Tall Dog, you get bit!"

That was a very good day. When we got back to mama's house, Quinton was soaking wet and I was dry. "If y'all got caught in the rain, why is Quinton wet and daddy dry?" mama asked.

I got bit by the Tall Dog," Quinton replied.

And the BC really thought that he would be afraid of me. That woman doesn't know anything about my relationship with my boy, even though a lot of it happened right under her nose. But I was never a soccer dad.

Therefore, I HAD to be a bad parent.