September 18, 2013

Saying Yes (Chapter #1)

Saying Yes (Chapter #1)
By John R. Greenwood

This post was literally 'prompted' by my friend and fellow blogger Kim Gifford over at Pugs and Pics. Being a teacher and a natural rock of encouragement for others she posted a writing challenge to document a time you just said 'Yes' and didn't look back. The idea was to share a moment that without hesitation or taking the time to talk yourself out of something you simply threw caution to the wind and went for it. Here is my story and what the word 'Yes' did for me. 

The year was 1979. I was twenty-four years old, married, and the father of two baby boys. We were living in a mobile home, in a mobile home park. I was working at a milk plant making about $7.00 per hour. I would go with delivery drivers after my shift and work another eight hours for an extra few bucks under the table. That little bit of extra money would provide formula, diapers, and a stop a McDonalds. Times were sparse, but I was as alive as I've ever been. I was carving out a life for my family. I could go for days without rest. Relaxation was a trip to the state park with the boys for some fresh air and a sip of nature.

Part of my job at the time was putting up milk orders for outside vendors who would buy their milk and other dairy products from the plant where I worked. They were called milk dealers at the time. They would resell those products to restaurants, homes, hospitals, schools and places like the Saratoga Racecourse, Skidmore College, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The dealers would place their orders the day before and I would pick and stage them for the next day. One of those milk dealers was named Victor Price. At the time he was 70 years old and in poor health. He was about to have a lung removed. He would need someone to run his business for him while he recuperated. Vic was a man tall in stature and frugal with money as well as words. He had lived through the Depression and it showed. He knew where every penny he ever earned came from and went. He didn't part with a buck easily and his milk trucks proved it. He was a little intimidating to me but I liked him. He had a confidence about him that kept my attention. One day he stood and hovered over my shoulder. He looked me in the eye and said,"Do you want to run my business for me? I need someone to manage the guys and the routes. You will collect money, pay bills, and maintain the trucks while I'm out." I stood there dumbfounded. It was a question I wasn't prepared to answer but I knew one thing--I had never refused an opportunity to better myself. I had only worked at the Plant a short time but I grabbed every chance I could to learn a new job or machine. I understood early that the more jobs you could do the more valuable you were. Vic must have seen that in me. Growing up through the Depression he saw it as survival. I was twenty-four, feeding a family of four on a shoe string. I had some sense of what he'd been through. He told me he had already spoken to the Plant Manager and asked if he could 'borrow' me for a couple of months. I would remain on the payroll of my employer and he would reimburse them for my wages. I would retain my benefits and at the same time be accepting a challenge that would provide experience to help fatten my work resume. What did I have to lose?

With an air of new found confidence I looked Mr. Price in the eye back and I answered,"Yes." What I didn't know at the time was another question would come charging at me a few months later. Again my courage would be tested, but for now I had survived my first test of dad courage. I took the security of the known and gambled my family's future on an unknown. Sometimes you go with your gut. It was a good feeling--but I was scared to death. 

* If you would like to read other posts related to Price's Dairy and my days working as a milkman at the end of an era, click on the Price's Dairy label below. Some are related more than others. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this "American Spirit"! Love the energy and excitement of youth - of being a young dad and provider - of embracing life! (thanks for the kind comment on my "interview" post. It was very kind of you)