Why is it you cannot find an eraser when you need one?
Sometimes I wish there were an eraser for one’s brain. I am plagued with embarrassing little things that happened a long time ago — and I cannot seem to get rid of them.
For an example, I started working at my dad’s company when in the third grade and I wanted so bad to make good impressions. One day I noticed there was no designated place to put empty cardboard boxes. I roped off a place at the end of a workbench with a rope and made a sign so everyone would know about it.
In bold capital letters I wrote “BOXS” with an arrow pointing down to the roped area. Proudly I showed it to my mother and she told me there should be an ‘e’ before the s. So instead of making a new sign, I drew a line between the “x” and the “s” and added the “e” above.
After that every promotional photo taken of the shop showed my errant sign in the background. It sort of became the company joke and has hung with me for years. When I had the building razed years later, the first thing I did was to take a crowbar and pry the sign off the wall and discard it.
During that same period I was thrilled to get the privilege of blowing the plant whistle. The whistle was an old steam whistle mounted on the top of the air compressor tank. It was sounded four times daily, starting and ending of work and at the noon hour.
At the time of the incident, the plant consisted of five buildings along Broadway. Working in the farthest building I glanced up at the clock and saw it was five minutes till twelve. I hurriedly finished what I was doing and raced through the plant to the top of the stairs over the air compressor and grabbed hold of the lanyard of the whistle. When the minute hand on the clock at the other end of the building hit twelve, I pulled hard and long — the screaming whistle did its thing.
Looking down I was somewhat surprised to see the workers just standing there looking back at me rather than grabbing their lunch boxes. It was 11 o’clock not 12!
So what’s the big deal?
The big deal was that almost all the tools in the plant were air-powered. I had just drained all the air in the tank supplying the plant and in effect shut the whole plant down — we had an early lunch hour that day. Many years later I was still working at the company. In fact I had risen to the position of vice president and had my own office (I was the boss’s son, remember).
At a function at the Tiki House one evening, a man approached me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m David Bear.” I responded by saying, “Nice to meet you, I’m sure.”
Then I turned to the pretty gal with him and asked, “And what is your name?”
With a surprised look on her face, she responded, “My name is Judy Bear. I have been your secretary for the last two months.”
During the next few awkward moments I stumbled through such statements as “I’ve never seen you all dressed up before” to “It’s hard for me to associate people’s faces outside the workplace.” And probably, “I didn’t realize you were so short.”
As embarrassing as it is to make silly errors, it’s really difficult when people know your name. I have faded back into the crowd many times making stupid or silly mistakes when people do not know you. But those times don’t stick with you and soon your brain erases them entirely. However, when things begin to repeat themselves, it really makes you wonder.
About ten years ago I invited the board of elders of the First Christian Church to come out to my recently renovated deer hunting lodge for dinner and their monthly meeting. To make things special I made a sign and secured it to the wall in the dining room — it read “ELDERS DINNING ROOM” carved with a router and stained to match the walls.
Afterwards one of the elders approached me.
He said, “That was a great meal, I am really impressed with what you have done here. I’m curious. Does that extra ‘n’ in dining have a special meaning?”