Back to My Roots
Whew! What a day. I'm in the Washington D.C. area for some meetings tomorrow. Don't really know what to expect at the Tuesday meetings, so I'm not going to comment on them now. Maybe more later.
Also, as much as I'd love to write about Occam's Razor and/or Entropy, that will be deferred until tomorrow. It will give me something to contemplate on the plane ride home. Today I went back to my early working roots and had a blast.
Over twenty years ago I was a technician working for ITT Terryphone. Looking back it was one of the best experiences of my career. Every day was filled with accomplishment. I pulled all of the cable for telephone systems, installed all of the control equipment, cross-connected all line appearances, manually connected the paging system with a diode matrix, relay matrix, solid state amplifier, modified teltones, the entire catastrophe. It was great.
I didn't know anything about endless meetings, CQI, TQM, Dilbert, management issues, office politics, employee issues, budgets, budget cuts, cell phones or digital pagers. I did know about getting things done, relying on myself, taking in a showing of Star Wars during an extra long lunch, going home when the job was done and working through the night when necessary.
I thought a lot about that today. My Uncle, Art Carbine, still works installing and troubleshooting telephone systems for AAA Networks in Falls Church, Virginia. Art and I teamed together back in SLC in the late 70s and early 80s. When I lived in Buffalo from 1982 - 1984 I would vacation by visiting Art in DC. At the time both of us were new to the east coast and spent much of our time together site-seeing. But often he had to work and so I'd tag along and help him. It was a way to stay in touch with family and not be too much of a pest.
Today I relived that time gone by. I travelled here a day early so that I could spend time with Art. I'd hoped to talk him into taking the day off and do some site seeing. But through my procrastination we didn't talk until Saturday night. By then he was committed to work on Monday. That meant I could spend time exploring downtown DC on my own or go with Art. I was a bit torn at first. I love the National Art Gallery and hate to pass up a glimpse of our treasures painted by Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Gauguin, etc, etc. But I also love to hang with Art.
He had to relocate a 5 phone key system in the District. We picked up the equipment at 1600 Connecticut and moved it to 29th and M Street. I rewired the jacks in the new location and helped tone out the cables while Art worked on setting up the control equipment. After, I ran around with a phone to test all the locations.
In the afternoon we added 3 phones to a Cadillac Dealership in Tysons Corner. The experience reminded me of a few things.
While working on rewiring the jacks in the morning I used a screwdriver that I'd given to Art last year . It reminded me that there was a time when I relied on my tools to earn a living. I miss that.
I also spent time with the customer contacts at each site. They were amazed that I'd take time to work with my Uncle, not for any pay, and spend a day that way. It was fun to make a connection with the customer. I enjoyed the direct contact and thought a lot about how enjoyable it is to participate in the customer service aspect of a business.
I also realized just how satisfying it is to actually do something tangible every day. And last, I was reminded once again how important family is and what a privilege it's been for me to work closely with Art over the years.
I also found out what it's like to ride with a guy who is dodging in and out of heavy traffic in our nation's capital while simultaneously answering his cell phone, navigating to a new address and entering some "data" in his PDA. I must say that Art's driving skills have gone to hell. It was a purifying experience to have the crap scared out of me numerous times. It's amazing just how often he found the need to consult with that PDA for one reason or another.
Oh, well. I'll take the bad with all the good. It's been one heck of a day.......