Monday, February 23, 2015
Another of the quirky and zany characters I came
across during my career in leadership positions
We all know them: the quirky and zany characters that pass through our lives on their way to future endeavors that we hope do not involve us. The time they spend with us can be interesting, offbeat, cockamamie, goofy, insane, a little touched and sometimes just plain silly; but more often than not: downright funny.
I was managing a stockroom and warehouse operation for a semi-High Tech company operating their manufacturing facility in an industrial park in Mesquite, Texas. I had been there about a year and business had been good, good enough that I was in need of another person to fill out my in-house receiving function. The “little” lady that I had performing that duty was really small, but held her own very well. She was due to go on maternity leave within the next several weeks and I was looking for someone with current inventory skills and because of the assembly material associated with the function, I desired someone with a little more beef than I currently had. I got lucky.
Jerry B was from Old Mesquite. When I interviewed Jerry, I knew I was on to something right away. Because of his easy going manner and “heft,” I knew he would fit in with the majority women section with very little problem. I was right. Jerry was well liked and really dependable. His availability was due to a layoff at his old company and he had a family with one kid and another on its way. He needed the job even more than I needed Jerry.
Jerry picked up the ins and outs of the position almost immediately and was soon giving misery as taking it from the women he worked with. They came to rely on Jerry immediately. One area where Jerry excelled was working with our dot matrix printers: changing the paper, fixing jams and the like. At first I was worried that the ladies were taking advantage of Jerry—they weren’t. Jerry had an unexplainable skill, especially with printers.
We had one printer in particular that would hang up every-once-in-a-while and the ladies would call for Jerry to fix it. One day, Jerry must have been in a crazy mood and just walked over to the printer and kicked a bottom corner of its stand—it immediately started printing again. I saw this once; Jerry said: “Ya gotta know just where and how high up to kick it.”
One day, I was back in their area when the printer stopped and the ladies hollered for Jerry. Almost immediately Jerry responded and when he walked around the corner to the aisle where the printer sat; the printer started immediately. Everyone laughed; just Jerry’s presence had an effect. I was sold.
A few years later after the company moved the facility up to Garland and collocated us with the sales, marketing and engineering departments. The reorganization put Jerry’s work station closer to the receiving section. I trained Jerry in the operations of the receiving responsibility so we had better overlap—the original backup had come from the shipping department which was now located on the far end of the building.
One early morning as I made my way around the operation, I noticed that Jerry was not at his station. I checked with the receiving individual and he told me that Jerry was out in his car and had never come inside that morning. I found it quizzical and looked out the door beside the dock. There was Jerry sitting in his car. Jerry looked my direction, waved and smiled. I thought noting much of it and waved back, thinking all along there must be a good reason.
Sometime later in the morning, I was again in the area and the same occurrence took place. I couldn’t let it pass this time. I had to get to the bottom of the situation.
I walked up to Jerry’s car as he sat there struggling with something in the front seat to his right. “Jerry! What’s going on?” I asked.
Jerry, looking at me with this foolish look all across his face responded: “The baby stuck some pennies in my seat belt buckle and I can’t get it open!”
“You’ve been out here all this time and still can’t get it loose?”
“Yes sir. I’ve tried everything within my reach and have had no luck.”
“Let me see if I can help? Open the passenger door and let me give it a look.” I asked as I changed sides of the vehicle. I had no more luck than Jerry had had. I tried as hard as I could as we talked about probable remedies. One idea finally made better sense than what we were currently doing. I went inside to the break room which was right around the corner from receiving and borrowed a dinner knife from Clearance Merrideth, our break room overseer and returned to Jerry. I stuck the blade down into the buckle opening and pushed hard against one of the pennies while Jerry pulled as hard as he could and we extricated the first and finally the second penny, freeing Jerry up to go clock in and head to work—almost a half a day late.
Obviously this problem wasn’t in any fashion related to a dot matrix printer.
I very much welcome your thoughts and observations.