On the road again.

My Job at Motorola taught me a great deal about organizational structure and process. A skill that would come in handy a few jobs down the road. I happened to be working there when the company started focusing on implementing service quality measurements.  They won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award of excellence.

My position was the kind that people would die for, great benefits, growth, free training and 5 minutes from home. What else could you ask for at my age?  I was felling good enough to start playing soccer again. I played for the company in an industrial league. I did it for social reasons; there was not much soccer involved.

We played 5 or 6 games and I scored close to 20 goals, I could not help myself thinking that the glory days were back. Kidding.

I had been working there about a year and a half when this position in the costing area became available. I applied for it. I saw it as a way to get to the management offices. I found out that was not the way things worked. Being a supervisor meant I was rated at a high grade and the costing position was below my level.  I was not allowed to go backwards.

That was a problem.

My path was upward to management.  I analyzed the situation. There were four management positions that I could have potentially moved to in the future. There were lots of competition. Those jobs where traditionally filled by graduates, also not one the managers was ever a supervisor in the company.  The company recruited managers into those positions from outside.  What were the chances of me getting there? I was good but it would take a miracle almost.

Without a realistic goal to aspire to I get miserable. I am very impatient

So I started looking around.

Around the same time my boss, one of the manager left and tried to take me with him. But the company was too small although there was more money involved. I was starting to be choosey. I was not qualified for his position so I did not even apply.

Sad note, my wife and I were not getting along and parted ways. Together we raised Poppy, despite some difficult times, into a fine young lady.

About six months after I started to look around I landed a job with Calgon a subsidiary of Merck pharmaceuticals. I mention that because the parent company provided all the benefits, I started thinking about retirement. This job was intriguing; the company was in the process of implementing IBM’s new mini computer with IBM ERP software. Before I took the job I was able to chat with the IBM implementer. They were looking for a reference for the software solution. This was a great opportunity and once again more money. 

There was a downside; the company was about 45 minutes drive away on Canada’s busiest highway. In winter it was a nightmare.

But what a move.

I was in charge of the whole kitnkaboodle. I managed the entire staff in accounting, IT including programming in RPG, I had to learn that, warehouse personnel, import and transportation. Someone else managed Purchasing.  

Oh and as you might suspect, almost no training, I had to learn the hard way, lots of late nights, frustrations, screw ups. But I met Jo. Then as usual I figured it out.  We were a great IBM reference.

This was my longest job tenure to date.

I met Jo my wife and we started a long working relationship. This was the first of 3 companies that we worked at together. Years later we decided to hook-up. Our relationship started out strictly business, then friendship then marriage with3 kids. It has been quite a journey.

Before Jo, I lived alone for a while then with my sister. As you probably know already I am not a good cook, so I would eat out often. I lived next to a KFC and ate chicken often. Whenever I met a potential partner my first question was. ‘Can you cook West Indian food? ‘  It was a deal breaker.

Around the corner on Eglinton and Kennedy in Scarborough was a popular West Indian restaurant/night club, but the cost of the food there was very high, I was only able to eat there maybe once a week.

 When I moved to the west end of the city with my sister, I ate at this Jamaican restaurant on Kipling north of Rexdale 3 or 4 times a week. The other times I would eat bread and cheese or Kraft Dinner, The Original. The couple that owned the restaurant adopted me; sometimes I did not have to pay, probably because I may have looked extra hungry on those days.  I also brought them quite a few new customers.

Four years into my bachelorship, Jo and I decided to ‘co-habitate’. Jo is a really good cook, but she is French Canadian. I had to decide if I was going to give up my good West Indian food 3 or 4 times a week. The restaurant was also my second home, a place to hang out at night.

Actually it was an easy decision, Jo and I became inseparable. I am still the boss.

My life was settling down again. Sometimes we would go to Quebec to visit her family which was always a good change of pace. The first time I met them I promised that I would learn to speak French by the next time I saw them. It has been over 30 years, I am still trying. Can someone be language deaf?

It was also a time when I started to get involved in sports again, this time on a volunteer basis. One of the guys that I worked with coached his son hockey team in a house league. He would invite me out to see the team play and I would sometimes go into the dressing room to help him tie the kid’s skates. For a kid with lots of hockey gear, that can be quite a challenge. After a while he asked me to be his assistant coach. The job included one practise and one game a week, mostly tying skates.

I’ll let you in on a little secret; you don’t have to be a skater to coach a hockey team. You just have to be a good screamer and not fight with the other teams’ parents. When the kids got hurt on the ice, I was not able to help. But I did that for two years. I am good with kids.

Also my neighbours, Gary, a friend for life, was also a volunteer coach, but the sport was soccer, my specialty. Our team did really well two years in a row. What was our secret? We had the best player in the league, a little tiny guy name Myles, who could score when he wanted to.  I’ve always wondered what happened to him, he would have made a great YouTube video, skills.

Gary came with other benefits, he is Trinidadian and he is a really good cook. We hung out a lot at his house to the point where I think we were annoying them. Gary and his wife had little kids, a magnate for Jo.

Two things happened that forced us to change our life. Jo got pregnant; someone forgot to tell me how that works. Also one day Poppy called me and told me she was scared to be home alone. She was a latch key child. Do they still use that term? Her school was right across the road from her house and she would always call me when she got home. That day, I don’t recall what triggered it but she told me she was scared. You know me right; I don’t take long to make decisions. We put the house up for sale.  It was time to move again.

It took us a little while but we moved across the city to a street just behind her school, I think a little recap is important here.

I worked at Motorola and lived 5 minutes away. I then went to work for Calgon, which was a 45 minutes drive away from my home.  So then I moved to within a five minutes drive away from that job. Circumstances caused me I moved again, 45 minutes away from my job to be with my daughter.  No I don’t own a moving company.  We lived in that house for 26 years. Jo’s dad referred to it as our white elephant as it was very expensive to maintain.

Now what was the next logical step? I needed to find a new job close to home. I had lots of experience and had a great reference from IBM.

Jo had a baby, yaaaaaa and she stayed home for 12 weeks.  We decided that I should stay put in the job until she was over with the maternity leave. When it was time to go back to work, we found a babysitter a couple blocks from work, just in case. We were still travelling 45 minutes to work. The first day back on the job, Jo in her wisdom decided to call the sitter to check on the baby.

J the baby was a screamer. A neighbour 6 houses down the road told us she could hear her cry. In fact someone actually called the child protective services; they thought we were mistreating her.

J was quite a tiny baby; we recently compared her daughter records with hers and at 5 years old, J was still smaller then her 3 year old baby is today. J attended ballet classes, yesterday she told us that her daughter tried to put on the ballet shoes she was wearing at 6, way too small. My son in law is 6’4”.

J was also a mommy’s girl, I was that guy who fed her sometimes and played with her when she felt like it. I recalled one day, she was 3 or 4 and I took her to the park. When it was time to go home J thought otherwise and started to scream. A total stranger approached us and asked her if she needed help.  It was not pleasant.

Jo’s first day back at work and she wanted to call and make sure J was doing fine. I am thinking don’t call, there is a 100% chance that J is screaming. I was right. Jo quit her job and took the baby home. I had to drive her. Yes we fought.

After that, Jo stayed home for a while, long enough to have the second baby.  E The Red, is what I called him. Of course it would have been hard to do that financially. Over time we came up with ideas for her to stay at home and make money. Finally we started a bookkeeping service and it did quite well, but it was long hours.

What’s J doing now? She is a mommy with 2 babies a year apart. A great mom herself, she took after her mom.

Eventually I was able to switch jobs after about five years with Calgon. The drive was killing me. This job was a 7 minutes drive from home.  I went to work for one of IBM business partners, where I was able to use a lot of the skills that I acquired over the years to help their clients.

Jo went out to work after a few years, she needed to get out of the house and yes I got her a job where I worked, together again. Then there was a third baby. D the brat, we got him a live in nanny.

I decided four kids were enough, snip, snip.

It was all making sense, the journey.

The only Kittitian Couch potato in Calgary.

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