THE LEARNING CURVE (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

 

I never get tired of Paul’s stories, and this is an especially good one.

THE LEARNING CURVE

By: Paul Curran

PaulCurran

 

Shawn taught me a lot that summer. He taught me how to be human, how it comes to be that some people think they are worthless, and how best to help others.

tiger_trucking_headers

A small part of the Fleet

It all started out very innocently – a day the same as many others.

As the Assistant Transportation Manager of a private retail fleet, I was responsible for the deliveries to over 100 company stores and the hauling of about ½ the warehouse purchased merchandise back to the distribution center. To do that, I had about 40 full-time drivers, 30 part-time agency drivers, and 15 dedicated carrier drivers (they worked for a third party company that supplied us with equipment and drivers, but took their orders from me). We used agency drivers as our volume fluctuated wildly since we were a discount value chain and so much of our sales were dependent on government cheques. Our volume was steadily building as stores grew and the number of stores grew, so we were constantly bringing on the best agency drivers to full-time employees and replacing them with more agency drivers as the fluctuations grew with the volume. I was responsible for all the hiring, disciplinary action and firing. So, I had one agency that I found worked well with us and I had a standing order for them to call me whenever they found a driver that they thought we could use.

It all started when Janice from the agency called one summer afternoon and told me she had a driver that I might be interested in (Janice knew I hired for attitude and acceptable skill levels and would prefer to do the training). That afternoon she sent over Shawn.

Shawn was the happiest, most obliging and guileless driver – or even person – that I had ever met. He was tall and lanky and dressed in an alcohol advertizing ball cap, a beer T-shirt, torn and dirty jeans and rundown sneakers – not exactly an impressive interview outfit, but topped with a smile. He was pleased to answer any questions I had and elaborated so I could get answers to questions I wasn’t allowed to ask – like marital status, number of children, etc. – all information that I have found determined a driver’s attitude and stability, but questions that were prohibited by law.

Shawn was on welfare and was the third generation of welfare in his family, a fact that, oddly enough, he volunteered with pride. He was married to Betty and had two young boys. Welfare had trained him as a truck driver and he had done some work for the agency at other companies in the last 6 months, but none had called him back. I wondered why. I liked his attitude and scheduled him for a run with my test driver the next day. I was not shy about telling him my wardrobe expectations – clean jeans with no holes, clean T-shirt with no obscenities or alcohol advertizing, a ball cap with only sports or company logos, and steel toed boots. He told me quietly that he didn’t have the money for steel toed boots. I pondered this for a minute and decided that I had a good feeling about this young man, regardless of all the obvious problems. I wrote out a requisition for a pair of boots from our attached flagship store and indicated that the boots should be charged to transportation. I gave him the chit and called the store manager to let him know. And off Shawn went. I let my driver trainer know he had a trainee for assessment the next day and I moved onto other business.

The next afternoon, Don, my trainer, came back with Shawn and brought the assessment paperwork into my office while Shawn waited outside. Don told me that Shawn was adequate and drove safely, and he thought that Shawn could continue learning safely on his own. He was interested in why I wanted to give Shawn a job when there were so many other experienced drivers out there – Shawn was at the low end of experience. I pondered that for a bit and told Don that I saw something I liked in the guy and I wanted to give him a shot.  Don just shook his head, added that my new project stunk and needed a shower, then signed off on the assessment and with a “Whatever” left the office, sending Shawn in.

I explained Don’s comments and concerns to Shawn and emphasized that he needed to shower daily before coming to work. This was something that I had only ever had to tell one driver before, and Shawn took it very matter of factly, nodding his head and agreeing, as if I had told him it was required to wear a yellow shirt. I rotated Shawn through another 4 drivers who trained him and gave him a broad introduction to our stores. After a full week training at reduced wages, Shawn set out on his own.

giant_tiger

Doing a delivery to a Store Receiving Area

Shawn’s delivery his first day was a full load to our Varennes, Quebec location scheduled for unloading at 5 am. It was about a 3 ½ hour drive so I made sure that Shawn knew to leave by 1:30 am. I told him to call me if there were any problems and made sure he had all the contact and after hours numbers. He also had his reload info from Montreal back to our Distribution Center (DC).

At 6am my cell phone rang on my bedside table. It was the store manager in Varennes, and he wanted to know where his truck was. I confessed I had not heard anything and I would contact him as soon as I had any information. At 8:15 a very angry manager called and reported that the driver had just arrived. The manager was furious and I promised I would speak with Shawn when he returned. I also told Shawn when he called empty, to see me as soon as he returned.

Late that afternoon when Shawn was back with his load of cheese doodles from Montreal and the truck was in receiving, I ushered him into my office. It was hard to be angry with him as he did not understand what he had done wrong. I impressed upon him the need to be timely and the cost of the 10 stockers doing nothing for 3 hours plus the store shelves not being stocked before opening. His response was completely unexpected – he said that he did not think that what he was doing was that important. I lectured him on how critical his job was, how important he was to the stores, and how much we all depended on him to be on time – everyone right down to the customers. He assured me that he would not be late again unless it was a breakdown or road closure and then he would call regardless of the time of day. When we were done, I felt comfortable that he took the dressing down seriously and sent him home – still not sure how long I’d leave him there, but no more than a day or two.

Cheez_Doodles

Even on your worst day, at least there are Cheez Doodles

As the summer went by, Shawn became more and more important to us as a driver we could depend upon. He never made the same mistake twice and when I told him anything once, it never had to be repeated. At 2am one morning a regular driver called in sick and I had to call Shawn at home to take the run. I impressed upon him the need to get in quickly and he responded: “I haven’t showered yet, should I take the time?” I told him the one-time answer was: Not today, just wash your face, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and come to work.

Shawn had such poor impression of his value that it was an ongoing battle to help him understand what most just took for granted. For instance, our company trucks were leased from Penske and Ryder, who took care of all the maintenance, insurance, etc. I sent Shawn over to Penske one day with a truck in need of a small repair – just a mirror replacement, a 15 minute job but important. I got busy and forgot about him and realized about 3 hours later that he wasn’t back yet. I called Penske and it seems the maintenance manager had told Shawn to wait, that he didn’t have time to fix it right now. So, instead of calling me, Shawn just sat down for 3 hours, as if his time were valueless. I reminded the maintenance manager that our contract said the trucks would be fixed or replaced and that I expected Shawn back here within 20 minutes with either a new mirror or a new truck. When he returned, I explained to Shawn that he was important and if anyone interfered with him getting his job done, he was to call me.

And so it went, each day Shawn became more skilled and able to do more complex tasks. He was working more than 44 hours per week now and if his appraisal went well, he would soon become a full time employee with benefits, uniforms, profit sharing, and labor protection (agency drivers could be dismissed by simply saying that there wasn’t work for them, but employees had a whole slew of legal rights).

I was studying at University as well as working full time that fall, and come October, I was promoted from Transportation to Business Analyst at Head Office. It was a project based promotion but that was fine with me. My immediate boss – Frank – took over the day to day workings of the transportation department – and he did not like Shawn. It was a personality conflict from day one – which had made no difference as long as Shawn had reported to me. Frank was an Air Force brat and had no use for anyone who had ever been on welfare.

100 Constellation

100 Constellation Cres., Ottawa – Where you go to get Welfare

The second week in my new job, I had a visitor – a fellow manager from the DC. He knew I had made a project out of Shawn and he dropped by to tell me that Frank had fired Shawn. Apparently Shawn had had some mechanical problems on a trip, had reported it and gotten it repaired and got back to the warehouse late. His load for the next day was ready to go, so he took that load and drove to the first stop to sleep. This was common with the drivers and was actually encouraged; as the truck was guaranteed to be there on time (each truck had a sleeper berth attached in case there was a need for a snooze). The store manager was a prick and a friend of my ex-boss. He called the warehouse and complained that the driver – Shawn –was not ready to unload at 5 am. All he had to do was tap on the side of the truck and the driver would have woken up and got to work. Instead he called Frank and complained; and Frank, just looking for a reason, fired Shawn.

And so that summer I came to understand how it was that welfare became a trap for those who had to use it; how difficult it was for those on welfare to get back into the job market; the prejudice they faced from society, the challenge they had to even get accepted as a viable employee candidate, let alone an employee; the continual problems that their past causes them in behaviour, others’ judgments, even social norms in the workplace. Without a mentor, it is not possible for those on welfare to get back into the workplace and overcome their feelings of lack of self-worth. As a society we have branded them as valueless and they have come to believe that.

As for Shawn, I never saw him again. I took some solace in the fact that hopefully my efforts had given him enough of a head start that he could succeed at his next job.

TT%20Giant%20Tiger%20TD1MNH-6242013-5587

A true tail, but not The End

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I think we all hope that Shawn succeeded in life.  I know I do.

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Paul Curran and I love to hear from our readers. You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com or notcordeliasmom@aol.com

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Images by:  Giant*Tiger.com, and Robert Archer/Hank’s Truck Pictures.com, and Wikipedia.com, and Ron Engineering, and Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, respectively

This entry was posted in Guest Posters, Paul Curran, Relationships, Road Trips & Cars, That's Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to THE LEARNING CURVE (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for having me here CM. It is, as always, a pleasure working with you and an honor to guest post.

    Like

  2. Victo Dolore says:

    Great story!!! Thank you for having appreciated your staff and seeing potential in someone who might otherwise have been discarded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Hi Victo! Thanks so much for dropping by. So many companies these days want to hire what I call “Plug and play” employees, as if they were a piece of hardware. It is one of my pet peeves. I believe the best employees are the ones who are mentored and appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Victo Dolore says:

        People so often forget that you increase your own power, success, and worth when you help others succeed.

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        • Paul says:

          You said so much with that one sentence Victo that I am at a loss of how to answer – suffice it to say, i agree 100% and this links to faith and a life philoposphy that ushers in kindness, understanding, empathy, effectiveness, productivity, a divergent outlook that continually includes more, and, most importantly: leadership. Truly the first duty of any leader is to grow the leadership skills of their employees. The emplyees know what needs to be done (that is a very basic first step), it is your job to remove the obstacles so they can do it.

          Well said, Victo.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Great story, Paul. You really nailed what people need, mentors, somebody to take them under their wing. Without that love, all the social programs in the world do very little. That mentoring relationship has been at work for hundreds of years, but something has gone wrong in modern times. People are more distrustful towards each other, there’s cronyism, and an attitude that the Gov with just look out for people, so we don’t have to. Boys are really suffering under this system, because they don’t really get to learn how to be men. We have too many absent fathers, very few trade school programs, and even less mentors in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I hadn’t thought of it in bigger terms – i.e. social repercussions – as you have IB. You are right – it really is a lack of connection between people in general that is causing such issues in our world today. Thanks so much for dropping by and adding to the discussion. As always, your comments are thought provoking.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What you said here is very true. The apprentice system offered a safety net where assorted skill were taught as well as work ethic. Done carefully without abuse, an apprentice system can rescue some and send them in a positive direction

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        It also has numerous other positive impacts Phil. For instance, instead of a new entry onto a field building reationships one at a time, s/he has the option of accessing the relationships already built by their mentor, en bloc. It is also possible to increase the learning curve by having the information to prevent unforseeable errors already overcome by the mentor.

        This is a huge conversation Phil, one in which i am in agreement with you. Having done the B-school thing though, i will tell you that most companies do not like this as they wish to maximize profitability by having each and every employee producing maximum revenue – no trainees. In fact US and Canadian companies are notorious the world over for the lack of training given to employees.it is miniscule compared to some countries – hours per year vs weeks per year. And yet countries where training is very strong- still manage to compete and even beat out those countries where training is seen as a waste of time and money. Speaks to some fundamental characteristic of humans and successful business that we North Americans are missing. Like I said – big topic.

        Thanks so much for dropping by with an addition to the discussion. I am honored.

        Like

    • idiotwriter says:

      Oh brilliant IB – spot on…. just so horrifically true.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elyse says:

    What a wonderful story, Paul. Possibly your best.

    And I think your point is right; as a society, and as people, we need to stop judging. We need to help folks so that they can (and they will) succeed. I hope wherever Shawn is, he is doing well. Somehow, I think he is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so much Elyse, for dropping by and for the compliment. Yes, i too get the feeling that Shawn (name changed by the way) will be OK. There wasn’t space to get much into his relationship with his wife – Betty – but she was a crackerjack. She held down 3 part-time jobs and kept him well in line. I had a number of conversations with her and I can tell you that woman would move mountains to make sure Shawn succeeded.

      I am honored that you came by for a visit Elyse and joined the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Outlier Babe says:

    Paul, this story showed you at your best and could show society at its best. Instead…

    I have to run, or I’d look up the link, but somewhere–I think on Slate recently–saw an item on a bakery (?) in Harlem (?) that hires young men without bothering about resumes or references–guys with gang tats, whatever–and just invests trust and training. And the bakery, and the young men, thrive. Your kind of people.

    Great story, Paul. And now, I’m outta here! Have a good day–and especially, a good night 🙂 .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. julie says:

    You know Paul, I saw that you had guest posted again and got so excited! You can write. I felt so bad for Shawn. I got mad at Frank and the stupid store manager. (which was easy, since one of my jobs is in a grocery store) You are a treasure chest of good stories! Thanks too to CM for allowing you a platform. I haven’t forgotten you have extended the courtesy to me as well, I just haven’t been able to find the story yet!

    Like

    • It’s an open offer, Julie, and there’s no deadline. When the time (and the story) is right, you’ll know.

      Like

    • Paul says:

      Than you so much Julie for dropping by and for the wonderful compliment. Yes, there are a few people out there that can be jerks by time. It pissed me off so much I didn’t dare go see my ex-boss for fear I would lose it on him. We didn’t always see eye to eye as you can imagine. Ha! Oh, well, hopefully Shawn got enough of a head start that he managed to do well. I suspect he would.

      Like

  7. Karen J says:

    What a wonderful post to find on my birthday, Paul 🙂 (and CM – thank you, too)!
    Your faith and patience with Shawn are an inspiration…and the tune I just heard reminds us that “I May Be Broke But I’m Not Broken”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • julie says:

      Happy Birthday Karen! I hope you have a great day!

      Like

    • Paul says:

      Happy Birthday Karen! I am indeed honored to be a part of your birthday celebrations. Thank you for the compliment. Shawn was a good guy – i hope he went on to do well. May the rest of your special day be the best,

      Like

  8. Yes, Karen – Happy Birthday! Hopefully, things have calmed down for you?

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  9. What a brilliant piece. Here’s what I love about your writing: you don’t flood the market with a lot of chaff and expect us to sort through it. You only ever provide wheat. It makes reading your stuff a real pleasure. Thanks, very much, for the link. A sad, beautiful story. Where is that poor guy today? Where is his family? It’s heartbreaking to ponder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      H Mark! Thanks so much for dropping by and thank you so much for the great compliment. I can only hope that Shawn went on to do better and find an employer who appreciated his great can-do attitude. If his wife had anything to do with it, i’m sure he was successful. Oh, as an aside, not that vengence ever crossed my mind – Frank eventually got fired. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This flooded me with a lot of emotions and thoughts at once, Paul – a firm indication of solid writing. Fantastic storytelling that also cracks things up in folks – whether it be pathos, self-reflection and/or direct access to something deeper within.

    For me, this touched on a personal note where I was once that kid. I didn’t get it from a societal way, as did Shawn, but from an internal one. I too felt my time was invaluable. Low self-worth can manifest in many ways, even without us knowing it. Shawn didn’t see that, and yet didn’t seem morose or crestfallen – it was a basic fact of life for him. Which deepens the sadness of that.

    On a different scale, it reminds me of the guys I try to hire. I am currently in charge of recruiting at my work, but because my place of work is considered government property in some way, I have to adhere to HR standards. Which means a Cdn passport or driver’s license and another form of ID. This is for background checks. So, I will get some guys I want to hire – guys like Shawn – but they don’t have the required ID. Some guys have landed from other countries and just want to get started up here. Some have had some hard knocks in life and looking for redemption. Some have had troubles in the past and looking for a second shot. But I can’t hire them. Any, and I mean any sort of criminal activity, no matter how long ago it was or how small it was, automatically disqualifies them. It angers me at times because those are the guys who will work their asses off. The other kids slip in sometimes and are just concerned with partying and egos and social media, etc.

    Anyway, I think what you did for Shawn speaks more to your own depth of character and your leadership skills and intuition. There aren’t many guys like you, Paul. I don’t say that in a sycophantic way, but in this age of wrongful dismissal cases and grinding union battles and such, many people aren’t into the busines of hiring by gut instinct. You mentored this guy and I bet you he is thankful you and he crossed paths.

    Thank you for this, Paul. Lovely work by a lovely human being.

    Paul

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hi Paul! Thanks s much for dropping by for a read and to add to the discussion. You are right, self-worth is a serious issue and as you pointed out, even worse was the fact that Shawn had grown to the point where he accepted (the untruth) that he was valueless. Turning that around was a long term personal task – one on one.

      It is sad these days that so much hiring has to be done by the rules set up by HR who doesn’t work with the employees or even know them on any significant emotional level. the workplace i described was pretty good about that – as long as the applicant didn’t have any theft or fraud charges , they were hireable. I actually had a guy who had been convicted of attempted murder who worked for me and he was a great employee. Anyone with a record who wants to change, will really appreciate the opportunity and do a good job.

      As far as wrongful dismissals go, I was “lucky” that I never had such an issue – although over the years i would guess that i have terminated hundreds. The truth is that i always gave them the benefit of the doubt and was willing to be screwed over before I fired anyone. And there is an issue of awareness – being constantly aware of what your employees are facing, how they are doing, if anything is bothering them. It is easy to see bad stuff coming when you keep your finger on the pulse. And when you do have to fire someone, always build a file and document (but only when you are on the war path – I do not believe on commiting regular issues to a formal file) . I’ve had a few terminations challenged, but when the labor board saw the file, they just laughed, wished us a good day and left.

      Anyway, i can empathize Paul with your employee challanges. i wish you the best.

      Like

  11. Penski trucks seem pretty solid ( I’ve actually ridden along in a giant long distance truck when being rescued by a nice truck driver who spotted a couple of poor kids struggling with a marginal car on a desert highway and shepherded us safety into a small town. Those trucks are amazing creations – and drivers must have a lot of skills – not just for the truck, but with other vehicle drivers on the roads.
    Kids like Shawn have a hard time as they simply haven’t been taught what other assume is basic information – and they have litle/no support when they go back home. Environment tries to cling to them. Worked with quite a few young “seventeen yrs in 8th grade, can’t read, don’t care, and the parole officer is outside the door.” Many had just given up and need a great deal of support and patience – and someone to believe in them. You analyze and do what you can to get them up to speed – try to position them in sheltered environments/safety net areas until they believe and let the wind get under their wings. And cross your fingers. Shawn is very likely somewhere doing OK – and trying to help another as you helped him. They leave, but they never forget who first saw something in them and gave them a chance. Well done – both life and story

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so much Phil for the read, comment, and the compliment. I am honored. It seems clear that when our social systems go off the rails – ie. creating generations of welfare families – that it takes someone’s personal interest to rectify the problems of the individuals. One on one mentoring in the workplace seems to be one of the ways helps those who have been marginalized. I’ll be brutally honest though Phil – I did what i did not only because i saw it was the right thing to do do but specifically, i saw that Shawn could add value to the company that i worked for – and he did eventually, in spades. It took some effort on my part but i can assure you that over the years of managing, i have come to learn that there is always a price for excellence. His price was mentoring -for some it is bonuses and recognition, for some it is an ear they can bend when needed, for some it just never will be excellence. As you pointed out, support systems play an important role in the reintegration of the marginalized into the mainstream – however, that being said, to me mentoring and personal attention can provide the motivation that aids in the successful transition to value adding member of society (and that is not necessarily defined financially).

      So, you’ve had a ride in a tractor-trailer, eh? Fun, isn’t it? Umm, after decades of driving and managing and roles in safety in trucking, I am a firm believer that every vehicle driver should be required by law to spend at least a few hours observing in the cab of a truck. Trucks and cars have to co-exist on our highways and they have very different handing and operating characteristics. Most car drivers do not realize this and treat trucks as if they are just big cars – and they are not. To do the job of driving well, it requires a great deal of knowledge and skill and, believe it or not, a sense of the big picture. There aren’t a lot that do it well, though Phil – most do it adequately and by the rule book. Shawn had the capability to do it well – i could see that in him.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting Phil. It is a pleasure to have you here and I suspect that you are right – Shawn most likely went on to be successful.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. ksbeth says:

    this is a beautiful story, paul. i do think he was lucky to have crossed paths with you, someone who saw how valuable a person he really was, and believed in him. it seems he just needed a bit of teaching and support and was willing to accept both. i’m sorry he was fired, but i do believe life will be better for him from there on out, as he finally recognized his worth. great –

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by Beth! It is great to have you visit. And thank you for the compliment. Yes, I do think he had the skills and faith in hmself to do well elsewhere after we fired him (technically, he was still an agency driver, so he was just told that there was no more work for him – but we should call a spade a spade, he was terminated). At least i hope he did anyway. He was a quick learner – which was good because he sure had a lot to learn – and I am sure he could have done well any where once he had the experience.

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment Beth, I hope you stop by again sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So why don’t you have a blog of your own? This story is great, and really ought to have been shared with the rest of the 1000 voices of compassion, on the 20th (which I missed because I suck). Nice one paul. If you want to guest post again, come over to Naptimethoughts. Bring your funny side.

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    • Paul says:

      Hi NTT! Thanks so much for dropping by and for the great comment. You know, I didn’t even realize that this post fit with the voices of compassion until today. This one came out difficult, I’ve been playing with it for over a month – long before the topic of compassion even came up. The hard part wasn’t writing it – the hard part was keeping it topical and under a few thousand words. It kept leaping off in other directions. Typically I can write a post in 1-3 hrs, this one took about 20 hrs to get it in the shape you see it, amd I still think it could be better.

      Thanks so much for the offer to guest post NTT. I am honored. i have tried to start a blog but the problem is my hardware – or rather my computer’s hardware – Ha! I have an old laptop running XP and IE8. I can’t upgrade the software anymore until I upgrade my hardware – essentially buying a new computer. Everytime I get into WP to try opening a blog – I get slammed with warnings about my browser and my computer freezes. So, it isn’t for lack of trying. To a certain extent guest posting has its benefits – I can chose any topic I want and them find a blog that it fits. Meanwhile I’m saving my pennies. 😀

      Thanks so much for the visit NTT – I look forward to seeing you again.

      Like

  14. idiotwriter says:

    This SO could have been a story for the 1000 voices speak toward compassion Paul.
    I got so choked up reading this – for so many reasons – some of which you may even personally know without elaboration. What IB stated though – is so dear to my heart.
    People DO need mentors. It is just so simple but so scarce.
    YOU know my whole mission in life is for people who have been left out of the loop and feel worthless and betrayed by life and societies concept of ‘normal’ –
    One of your best articles yet 🙂 Thanks for leading me here today.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much Belinda for dropping by and joining the discussion. I obviously agree very much with what you have said and I must confess that I’ve not given a lot of thought to verbalizing it. The concept of mentoring is one that i’ve always encouraged and used (both ways – by mentoring others and by seeking out a mentor for myself). I’ve just done that naturally without giving a lot of thought to the fact that it is becoming more and more rare. And at the same time, so many of our social problems could be positively addressed by mentoring or similar actions, as meaningful human contact (i.e. empathy and understanding) seems to be breaking down. There is a wonderful 4 minute video about compassion that Mamamickterry posted on her website http://mamamickterry.com/2015/02/20/if-we-could-see-inside-others-hearts-1000speak/#comments The video can be found there or on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl2_knlv_xw

      I am honored that you came by for a visit Belinda. Thank You.

      Like

  15. Aussa Lorens says:

    Things like this frustrate me, but it’s so true. I see similar things with people who have a felony record. How do we expect people to ever “rehabilitate” and have a chance at regaining any ground if we make it so difficult for them to get jobs, housing, etc. I do hope that the things you taught him allowed him to secure another job and do well.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hey Aussa! Thanks so much for dropping by. It is true – it is frustrating, and many large organizations with HR depts and such have rules that simply do not allow many qualified applicants to even apply. And you know, when you give someone a chance who has seen hard times, they become an excellent employee. As long as they have the basic skills, their positive attitude amplifies their abilities greatly. The last time i checked, employers hired 80% for skills and fire 80% for attitude. I could never understand why they didn’t hire for attitude in the first place.

      Thanks again for dropping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Please feel free to drop by agian.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The Hook says:

    I’ll say it again… you’re a good man, Paul.
    Truly.

    Like

  17. Doobster418 says:

    Great story about hope and compassion and the value of mentoring. It’s too bad that your good fortune (your promotion to the Head Office) as his mentor led to Shawn’s dismissal (through no fault of your own). But Shawn probably learned some great lessons from you along the way. Hopefully he was able to put them to use — and the value he offers — in the next opportunity that came his way.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks Doob! I think Shawn came a long way in the few months he worked for me. He had a great attitude and his wife kept him motivated. She was a crackerjack. He was a fast learner and I never had to tell him anything twice. As long as he had a decent boss, I’m sure he would be OK to continue to learn on his own. It was total lack of any selfworth that blew me away. So may people call those on welfare lazy and useless that they start to believe it.

      Thanks so much for dropping by Doob. I am honored.

      Like

  18. kerbey says:

    Mercy, that is a tough one. I would have had no patience for someone who did not show up exactly when told, clean and dressed appropriately. Even a middle-schooler knows not to wear an alcohol advertisement to a job. It seems like just operating in the world would teach you such things. Not being on time would show me that he didn’t value other people’s time. It seems selfish to me. So you certainly had more sympathy and saw it from his side. I don’t think welfare benefits anyone. It has created this culture of entitlement. I’ve been out of work for three years in constant pain, but I don’t ask taxpayers to give me disability or unemployment. But we live in a world where daddies make babies and daddies leave, and single moms can’t raise kids on one salary, so taxpayers must help. Consequently, we keep trying to redefine what a family means just so there are some responsible adults involved. Perhaps if he had been told from childhood that he was a child of God, that God was crazy about him and had a great purpose for his life and gave him talents such as simply that wonderful ability to smile, he would understand that he was meant for victory and just as valuable as everyone else. I’m sure he has not forgotten that you were a stepping stone to his destiny.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hey Kerbey – thanks for the visit and the comment. It’s great to see you here. Here in Canada we pay huge taxes – when all types of taxes, including sales taxes are included, we pay close to 50% of our earnings in taxes. Essentially we pay into programs that are managed bythe giv’t in case we need disability or unemployment or even welfare. I’m actually on disability as i have a degenerative nerve condition caused in part by dialysis. The end result is that i don’t walk well and it will get worse. I’ve tried for over two years to get a job, as my brain is fine, but most employers see me as a liability plus my age (late 50’s). I would far rather work than draw a disability but I cannot convince anyone to hire me. Believe me i tried – semding out over 500 resume’s and doing dozens of interviews (and i interview well, having inteviewed so many in my time). As soon as they see my medical issues and age, they don’t call back.

      All that to say that i believe in social assistance programs. however, you are right – once someone gets used to drawing welfare or whatever, it is difficult to get them back to work. We still have to work on that one. The problem isn’t all the person – a great deal is also employers.

      No doubt that Faith would be a great benefit to those who were having hard times, but even so “render unto God that which is God’s and render unto Ceaser that which is Ceaser’s”. It helps to have faith but it won’t necessarily give you a wage. I have no doubt that if you had met Shawn Kerbey, you would have seen what I I saw – he was a very positive person and you knew right away that he was not disrespectful of others. It was his lack of self-worth that caused all the problems.

      Thanks so much for visiting and adding to the discussion Kerbey. I am honored.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kerbey says:

        That makes me sad that you have to give 50% of your taxes away to any govt entity. That makes me sad that you want to work and can’t, and 50s does not sound old to me like it once did. And I am also sad that you have a degenerative (I use that term almost daily now) nerve issue. That sucks in no uncertain terms. And Caesar does have to get his renders as long as we live in this world, true.

        I don’t understand why you don’t have a weekly Sunday evening TV show called Paul’s Chitty Chat or something like that, and you can tell your whole big country all your amazing stories of trucks and blizzards and unshowered peoples and dangling festering meat that makes it hard to take corners in a big rig. I wonder if you have a Smokey and the Bear style moonshine story with bootlegging or Burt Reynolds or Alex Trebec involved.

        Like

        • Paul says:

          Bwahaha! I am actually writing a post right now about two loads of liquor that had to be hauled and even though it was illegal, I did it; sneaking around and hiding behind buildings when stopped. Evading the law officers – and one big bald officer with a big gun who decided it was his job to stop me. Absolutely true and you’ll see it here in short order.

          I actually have a bunch of those – many involving imported beer down the East coast. One of those runs the sneaky officer caught me by hiding in the dark in a closed highway weigh scale until I just came in sight and then popping the facility open by throwing on all the lights and the indicators demanding I report. ha! Just me. He had a young trainee who was jumping up and down with excitement when i turned out to be illegal. The older,wiser officer told his side kick to tone it down, that for me it was the cost of doing business and then took my money for the fine which I peeled out of my wallet. He then laughed, wished me luck in making my first million, and waved me good-bye as i drove away on my journey. The young officer stood downcast at the lack of justice and pouted as he watched me disappear down the ramp back to the highway. Ha!

          I once enquired of a Harris County (Houston) Sherriff Deputy if I would get ticketed for parking overnight on the side of a Harris County Road as we stood and pondered my truck quite pefectly parked on the shoulder except laying on its side. He replied that it was perfectly legal to park for 24 hours in Harris County and i was free to park it on its wheels, on its side or on its roof, as I wished. At which point he and his colleague waved good bye and drove away. At least he didn’t put a chalk mark where the siderail met the pavement to ensure I didn’t overstay.

          Liked by 1 person

          • kerbey says:

            Laying on its side? How did you get it back up?

            Like

            • Paul says:

              A very big wrecker. But we had to unload it first. That eventually lead to a situation that ended up in the newspapers at home and had me seriously considering taking the Canadian gov’t to the Supreme Court for fraud (at the suggestion of my lawyer). Long,loooong story.

              It got on it side as a result of my not realizing that it had rained for two weeks before I came along and the road was built beside a bayou. I pulled over to get some rest (it was behind a truck stop whose parking lot was full) and when i stopped, the shoulder gave way and the truck just slowly turned over . I can look back and laugh nowbut it was not funny at the time when i had to push the driver’s door up in the air to get out and found my self standing on the side of the truck which was now pointing skyward. It landed soft enough that it didn’t even break the passenger’s side mirror. t did however do considerable damage to the sleeper side and mounts and the fender, etc.

              Liked by 1 person

  19. Ned's Blog says:

    I hestitate to call this a “story” because it’s so much more than that because it deals with the human conditon on so many levels — including our ability to empathize as well as stereotype. One offers hope, the other hopelessness. My hope is that what he learned from this was something he could carry with him through life. My belief as that people like you offer hope to all of us, no matter what our station in life may be.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by Ned. I am honored. And I am pleased that you enjoyed the post. I think that Shawn will do OK after a while. He never made the same error twice, so I’m sure he’ll make his way to a full time solid job. His wife, Betty, was a very motivated lady and with her help Shawn will do well somewhere.

      I am touched by your compliment Ned and i hope that I am that understanding as life goes along. Please drop by again to visit – CM and I are always pleased to have you.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. markbialczak says:

    You worked with Shawn, and he learned, and he grew, and he was an asset to the company and in turn the country. That’s a tale that should have made Frank, your boss, quite pleased. But, no. He had to play politics and personalities instead. So Frank fires Shawn, people lose, the company loses, the country is poorer for it. Oh, Paul, how sad and angry people continue to make me.

    Thank you for another of your illuminating guest posts. You see the world through an interesting lens, Paul, and have the way of relating your vision in such an entertaining and relatable style. Bravo, my friend.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for the read and the comment Mark. It is true that people, including society, often cut their noses off to spite their faces. I guess I never looked at it quite that way before. I see the the social/business environment basically as a fixed challenge and our job is to be fair in the face of the obvious injustices built into the system. Oddly enough, we, as a society often create structures and pathways and rules and prejudices that we, as individuals, find grievous. In other words we don’t consider the golden rule when we think, create and act.

      I’m so honored that you enjoyed the post Mark. In a way, I had a good time working with Shawn – the problems were never the same and you couldn’t help but smile when you saw him – he was go guileless. He never had an agenda or an ulterior motive – he was just precisely and completely who you saw. Very refreshing.

      Like

  21. ~ Sadie ~ says:

    Wow, Paul, I must admit this story brought me to tears. I read some of the comments, too. It is shameful the way society as a whole behaves towards individuals (especially those in need of something) in general. To me, mentoring is natural and I have mentored and been mentored often. This lack of fellowship, mentoring, compassion and empathy is exactly what is wrong with this world, and especially our country. I truly believe the only time you should look down on someone is as you are helping them back up – period. I have no doubt that after spending time with you, Shawn learned a few things about self-esteem and self-worth – you are a good human being and a good man 🙂 AND Frank, well I despise people like him and I am so glad karma caught up with him.

    I love reading your stories, you tell them so well 🙂

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so much Sadie – such a pleasure to see you here. Mentoring is something that I too believe in and engage in as much as possible. It successfully addresses so many problems and create such a positive attitude in the workplace (and elsewhere).

      You know, in a way I felt a warm glow when Frank was fired, but he really wasn’t such a bad guy underneath He was the son of an Air Force family and went to some ungodly number of schools – something like 13 or 14 – as he grew up. From his perspective, everyone was your friend when they were in sight and no one was when they were gone. He dealt with problems by getting rid of anything and anyone who created a complaint- be it justified or not. Which was basically why I was running the day-to-day operations and not him. He would just fire everyone until the problem went away – instead of trying to determine and solve the issues. This never worked well for him but he seemed incapable of sseeing that or of changing. Shawn was just one of those innocents who ended up gone. Actually Frank tried that with me as well – the problem being that I saw it coming and was prepared. He actually and literally ended up running from a meeting in tears that we were having with our bosses to determne if i were to be fired. I ended up with a bonus.

      Anyway, am so honored that you dropped by for a read and to join the discussion Sadie. Please drop by again.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. BerLinda says:

    Great story Paul – really moving. It’s a shame how people just slip through the cracks like that. But I think you gave him all the tools he needs to be a success at his next job – let’s just hope he uses them! I hope you gave Frank a good kick up the arse 😉

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ha! Great to see you here Linda! yes, i think that Shawn had a much better chance when he left than when he came. Hopefully that was enough to enable him to get full time emplyment somewhere that he was appreciated. And then there was Frank. Dear lord, he was a challenge. He could be so wonderful and yet he could also be the biggest prick you ever met. The problem was that he was hired when he personally drove a straight truck and managed 5 other drivers – shipping about 100 skids a day. And that was the whole department. I was the first assistant and before I left I had 85 drivers, 75 peices of equipment, 10 shipping staff, and delivered over 1,100 pallets of freight per day. And that was 6 days per week vs 5 days.

      Frank was just not cut out for that – and it wasn’t what he was hired for. Anyway, if he liked you, you could do no wrong. If he didn’t,he would find a way to fire you. That did not work well when you have over 100 employees to manage. Frank and I came to some very rough encounters but i survived.

      Thanks so much for the visit Linda – I am honored that you dropped by. Please come to visit again.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ve returned to make my comment now. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to sort my feelings on this one. Of course, it goes without saying you’ve written a great story, as you always do. I really admire that you took this guy under your wing and got him a lot further ahead than he was and I was pretty angry about the final outcome. I’ve decided to become more zen about it and believe that, just as his angels led him to you, they moved him onto a better environment after you were gone.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      It is an annoying ending, isn’t it? I seem to run into these endings quite a bit. I did another piece here called “The Christmas Kitten” https://cordeliasmomstill.com/2014/12/25/the-christmas-kitten-guest-post-by-paul-curran/ that had a similar ending. I do find it annoying. It’s like going to a movie and always having to leave an hour into it. But, you know Robyn. when I look at my life in general there seems to be some sort of a meta purpose that links to and defines many of my experiences over the years. It started very young – I can recall it happening even as far back as Grade 2 (7 years old). If I had to put it into one word i would say that I am a “translator”- a stepping stone for others from one place to another, whether it be physically or in understanding or even, sometimes , emotionally. I suck at personal romantic relationships, so I sure ain’t no Lover – Ha! I thought I’d toss that in in case you thought this translator job worked for understanding women or relationships – it ain’t so. ha! Although I wish. Sigh

      Anyway, even sitting around the hospital going to and from dialysis, i find the same thing with the people I meet. There’s an example this week at a weekly coffee post i do over at Willowdot21’s https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/if-we-were-having-coffee-guest-post-mar-012015/?c=21972#comment-21972 . Someone starting a process that i’d already been through stopped for a chat – and i tried to keep him positive.

      All that said – that’s my story and i’m sticking to it. ha! Best i can figure. Thanks so much for dropping by again Robyn – i am pleased you enjoyed the writing.andi hope you drop in again.

      Like

  24. Mich-in-French says:

    Brilliantly written as always Paul. Shawn was blessed to have you build into his life. I really trust and hope it planted seeds of hope in his life. Sometimes all it takes is a glimmer. It takes a great leader to build into others lives like that.
    The big thing here to is what you were able to learn from the story no matter how it did turn out. No matter what happens we need to be able to reflect and learn and then of course hope that the person on the the other side of the story (in this case Shawn) made the most of this journey too. That the still, small voice (called Paul) was there in another moment, edging him on to be a better person and to believe in himself just a little more.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thank you so much for dropping by Mich! I am honored. I did earn a lot from Shawn, It gave me a perspective on a whole sub-culture in our society that I had basically written off. He humbled me Mich. I have had numerous discussions with businessmen since who dissed the welfare state and gave them my interpretation from my experience with Shawn. he was a special person and I can still see his smile.We had another driver who was a hard hard worker and had no common sense and a third driver who was very rough – he had come from the woods where he worked in forestry. My dispatchers and I used to call them the Dream Team – they could and would do whatever we asked but we had to be very literal in our instructions.

      Thanks so much for the visit Mitch. I miss your writing, will you be coming back to blogging? I hope you and yours are all well. I hear it is getting rough in SA with foreign nationals doing a lot of jobs and the locals getting upset. I worry about you. South Africa has a history of addressing political issues with violence. Please be safe.

      Like

      • Mich-in-French says:

        Hi Paul

        We have just moved house – hopefully for the last time in a long time so its been really busy – that and I have started a business. I miss writing – when I am able to get to my pc – I am answering emails and catching up on admin so blogging has seriously taken a back seat. I am planning to start again – thank you for your fantastic support. As for South Africa – we take it in our stride here- we have mo other choice right now but yes, there are many times when feel unsafe and worry about my kids. It is a very sad situation we are in – instead of moving towards a place where we could all live together people are just getting more and more filled with hate and bitterness over a past no-one can change. I will be safe – thank you for your concern.

        Liked by 1 person

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