A chip off the old block

My oldest son E and my youngest daughter J2 are getting upset that I don’t mention them in my blog. I tell them that they are not interesting enough.

My son E is a lot like me, until very recently he was not sure where he was going with his life. He is very talented in so many areas, which can sometimes be a problem. Like me he also wanted to be a professional soccer player, actually he says it was my dream. Unfortunately, he is cursed with soft ankles, he definitely fell off this tree.

When he is ‘healthy’ and playing soccer, he dances with the ball, really fun to watch.  He was the last of my kids to get involved in soccer. When he finally put the boots on, he was only interested in meeting the other kids and chatting. He would sometimes stand in the middle of the field, picking dandelions, until the coach would yell at him.  He would then take off in the direction of the ball, steal it and score. Maybe he was bored. He was really quick. I was the coach.

Soccer has been good to him, he did quite well in the Toronto soccer league, won championships, has travelled as far away as Italy to play in soccer tournaments and he had some interest from two US Universities, but as I said, he fell off this tree.

E and two of his siblings attended the French School system in Toronto where English is only spoken in the bathroom and in English classes. He was there from Kindergarten to grade 8. In grade 9 he wanted out so he transferred to Dante Alighieri Academy, which was quite a distance away,  but where there was a soccer program integrated into the curriculum. He got injured often and as a result made the long travel to and from school not worth the sacrifice so he decided to switch to a self directed school in Scarborough ON for grades 10 to 12. That was not a good decision.

One day we were on our way home from a soccer game in which he had played really well. I decided a treat was in order, so we went to McD. Nice parent eh, kill him with fat burgers. Anyway while he was stuffing his face, he looked at me and said, ‘dad I failed French and Math’. The Math I could understand, you have to pay attention, but how does someone who speaks French fluently, fail French.

 So I asked. ‘How could someone who speaks French fluently fail French in an English school?’

Remember he was attending a self directed school? He just simply did not go to classes. I found out that he was extremely popular with the other students and his time was in great demand. He had to make some tough decisions, classes or hanging out with his friends.

Before the final year of High School he decided that he would not graduate if he continued going to that school. He attended summer school to improve his grades then transferred to a school famous for its rowdy kids which was close to some interesting neighbourhoods. He had no other choice; it was the closest public high school to our house and he had run out of options. 

He was the right age for the grade he was in which also included older kids from the interesting neighbourhoods and of course those were the kids he choose to be friends with. One day he asked me if it was ok to go to the mall with his friends. I asked how was he going to get there and he said they were going to pick him up. I reluctantly agreed. The car showed up and he ran out the house. You know me right; I was a helicopter parent so I rushed to the window and all I saw were his shoes as he disappeared into this car with windows so dark you could not see if there were others in there.

What to do, what to do.

My kids all had cell phones from the time they could dial, so I calling him as I got my car keys and took off at full speed following them. I wanted to know which mall they were going to.  He said the flea market on Birchmount and Sheppard in Scarborough. After he told me, I changed course, I had to get there before they did.

I know what you are thinking, but I don’t care.

I got there first, I knew all the shortcuts. I parked the car and waited. As soon as they got there and parked I called again and told him where I was parked and asked him to join me. Of course he wanted to know what I was doing there and how I got there so fast. As a parent what would you have done?

Yes, I straightened him out.

 No I did not beat him although I thought about it, he probably would have called the cops.

Would you like to know how I straightened him out?  

 I told him I loved him and I wanted him to be safe then I took him home. He did not talk to me for a while and in time I got over it. He will be graduating from University in June.

I suspect my kids with my guidance will achieve goals way beyond my wildest dreams. Sounds familiar? You can only hope.

At E’s current age I had just started the job at MAI, were my Kittitian friend Ivan worked.

In my new job, I had a manager and a supervisor and a co-worker Brook who keyed transactions into a database. Brook was married to a programmer who worked with Ivan. Most of my days at work were quite busy and of course I was doing a great job.  Ivan would come by once a day and we would chit chat. I had asked him to assist me as I was learning to write interactive programs, we would talk about programming techniques.

Sometimes I would look at Brook enter data in the computer and would ask a lot of question about the process. She was also a programmer. Slowly I began to figure it out.

My job at the company was to insure that minimum inventories were always in the warehouse, also retrieve and package and ship spare parts. After a while it became boring and I started to look for a new adventure. In addition to learning to program computers, I was taking the accounting courses. A great combination in the 70’s.

As I write this I was reflecting on how I got into the CGA program in the first place, so I will tell you. After I lost my job at the university, I spent a lot of time scouring the newspapers for a job. As I became more and more frustrated I would allow myself to look at the want ads in the professional sections. I noticed that Accounting students enrolled in the CGA program was in much demand so I decided I could do that, viola.

When I first started at MAI, the manager had promised me that when a job became available in the accounting office I would be considered for the position.  With one year of accounting courses under my belt I was ready for a new challenge. Nothing was becoming available and I was becoming increasingly impatient, so I began to look outside the company.  About the same time, I met this Egyptian guy Sol through Ivan, who had a software company. He supported the applications for the MAI computers and he had a customer that needed someone with experience in Accounting (funny eh) and computers to manage their automated cost accounting system. In those days the combination of those two skill sets was not easy to find. I applied for the job.

I won’t tell you the name of the company but I just Goggled it and they are still in business.  Why I can’t tell you? I got fired. Long story and I will write about it.

 So I was impatient, with computer knowledge and some accounting experience, what would you have done? The money was really good, one and a half times what I was making. Only two problems, I had never actually seen, much less worked with the computer the company had, it was different from the ones that I had been monkeying around with. I also knew nothing about Cost Accounting, that course was offered in the second year of the CGA program.  

Why let details get in the way.

I was single, had nothing to lose, yes I had a couple of bills, but I could always go back delivering laundry or pizza. So why not I was thinking, just another chapter in my life story, what could go wrong?

I took the job but resigning from MAI was difficult, another new experience. I had not voluntarily left a job in Toronto plus the company was good to me. I was actually told that if things did not work out I could always return.  You may recall from previous posts that I was always lead out of buildings, fired. One of my uncles was really mad at me.  He thought I was unstable.

The little guy from Trafalgar was going places, I had to wear a jacket and a tie.  I had found a belt that fitted me. Would you believe I was still weighed less than 120lbs, back then Canada still used the imperial measuring system.

 The first day in my new job, the controller showed me around the office and where the computer was located and that was pretty much my training. Damn I forgot something, he told me that since the Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and Payroll applications were all on the computer; the one in this air conditioned room behind a glass window, my job also included managing the people that did those jobs.  My title was Accounting and IT Supervisor.  I did recall we had talked about the supervisor job during the interview, but managing people?  I figured that would come in time, not day one.

 Just another chapter in my life.

You can’t make this up.

I was working for 16 hours a day. The first few weeks I actually slept there some nights, too tired to drive home.

Slowly I began to figure out the Job. The AP lady and I became good friends, she was quite helpful, the AR lady resented me, she wanted my job, and the Payroll lady was secretly involved with the boss so I stayed away from her. They were all quite a bit older than I was.

 Imagine the skills I was picking up although managing people was proving to be very difficult.

In the second month of my travels back and forth, my car broke down on Canada’s busiest highway. I had no cash, no credit card. I had to take a few days off to get it repaired and I had to borrow money to pay for the repairs, yikes.  There was no way for me to get to work except by car. A few days later I ‘traded’ it for a Mercury Cougar (actually took on more debt). That would have so disappointed my dad. He took great pride in buying his cars with cash.  Now that was once sexy car, chicks here I come. Ah, I am just bragging.

I’ll leave the firing for another blog post. That time I didn’t cry, after all I was then 25 years old with major responsibilities, I called her Poppy.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary

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