A Strong Work Ethic
He was just an average guy. Nothing special to most people, I guess. But to me, my dad exemplified the epitome of a hard-working, loyal employee. He hardly ever called in sick; and if he did, he was really sick. He never dreamed of arriving late, clocking out early, or shirking his duties. He was glad to have a job that provided for his family and spoke proudly of his job with General Motors.
I can still recall him going off to work in his freshly-laundered, navy blue uniform. Mom would pack Dad a nutritious lunch and carefully slip it inside his gray, metal lunch box. Then he’d kiss her good-bye and strut proudly out the door.
Dad worked all kinds of crazy schedules. Sometimes he worked the late shift, so we would eat together as a family when us kids arrived home from school. Then Dad would go off to work. This schedule was extremely difficult in the summer because Mom would have a tough time keeping us quiet so Dad could sleep. Even on those occasions when my brother and I would have one of our spats and wake Dad out of a sound sleep, he seemed to take it all in stride. It was amazing how quiet we got when we heard the bedroom door creak open. My mom would be frazzled and say, “Sorry, Honey, I know you need your rest.” Dad would shrug his shoulders and say, “Don’t worry about it.”
Dad never really complained about much. He worked hard to make ends meet so Mom could stay home with me and my brother. Of course, that was pretty much how it was in most households back then. We didn’t have a lot of money, but Mom and Dad always put us kids first. They rarely bought anything for themselves that wasn’t considered a necessity but always made sure we had what we wanted. Dad was always willing to work overtime to make some extra money.
My dad was the youngest of eight kids. When his father died, my dad was only 13 years old. He died suddenly while working on a scaffold on a building near some railroad tracks. He was killed instantly from a fall. This situation forced my dad into quitting school in the eighth grade so he could help support his mother. Even until the day she died, my dad was faithful in his support to my grandmother, both financially and emotionally.
I remember how pleased Dad was when he got hired on with General Motors. You see, back then it was quite an accomplishment among blue collar workers to land a job with the big auto maker. Dad would often sit around with friends and family talking shop. He was quite proud of the company he worked for and the benefits they provided to our family.
Dad never dreamed of owning a foreign car. That would be disloyal to the company that provided his bread and butter. He would come home fuming sometimes if he found out that one of his co-workers bought anything but a General Motors car. “What kind of advertisement is that when employees of General Motors go out and buy a foreign car?” he would ask. “How...