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#192 “What’s Important to You”

Sometimes I think we all need to step back and take a look at what we do and just how important it is.

I sometimes think of dishwashing as one of those jobs which isn’t really a place you want to wind up.  There are a couple of ways to look at it, I guess.  First of all, there’s the attitude of “Well, SOMEBODY’S gotta do it”.  That is certainly true and it’s made even more true by the fact that such occupations are often the route to more important work.

Several years ago, my son, Hooper was all set to go into the Army.  But then some of his friends told him that they were going to go to the U.S. Virgin Islands and work as sea kayak tour guides.  That sounded pretty good to Hooper, so he told the Army to take a flying leap, raked up all his money and bought a ticket for the Virgin Islands.  Because ol’ Hooper is kind of a “spur of the moment” guy, he hadn’t researched the job.  He just showed up, assuming that the tour company would be delighted to see him.  They told him that at 18, he wasn’t old enough.  “Sorry”.  Delight didn’t enter into it.

Hooper sailing with some of his pals in the Virgin Islands

But here’s what impresses me about Hoop.  He was broke and stuck with no prospects.  So he hauled ass across the street to a little seafood restaurant and nightclub and got himself a job as a dishwasher.  Once in that job, he showed up every day and did a good job.  Eventually he started cooking, then he became a server, then he moved aboard a boat, learned to sail and to weld underwater.  By the time he left the USVI a year later, he had crewed on the second place boat in the Rolex Regatta, knew how to SCUBA dive and weld and was the chief cook and server at the little restaurant.  When he returned to home, courtesy of Bert Garrison’s “Buddy Pass” on the airline, he was far better off than he had been when he left the U.S.  For the most part, he had done what he wanted to do and had enjoyed himself doing it.

But I learned from his little adventure that what is important and fulfilling to one person, may not be that important and fulfilling to another person.  That’s why you’ve gotta make sure that you’re pleasing yourself and not others.  Here’s an excerpt from my diary when I was flying for L3 Wescam:

“Morning at Wescam getting CGETC ready for flight to Victorville, California.

“Flew to Victorville and found my operator, Dave Arnold, taking a “class” on airport operations.  It’s required in order to take a test for a pass to work on the field.  These folks take their airport (on which nothing happens; it’s a graveyard for old airliners) VERY seriously.  I’ve never seen anything so outrageous.  It would be funny if it didn’t waste so much of our time.  The guy giving the class had also created the test of which he is quite proud.  He has no life!”

It occurred to me as I watched poor ol’ Dave put up with their nonsense, that this was a classic case of something being important to one person and at the bottom of the list for most others.  That guy taking such pride in his course and his test, thought that what he did at that lonely airport where nothing happened, was really important.  It wasn’t, but he well never know that.  That’s another lesson:  We need to take our “blinkers” off in order to see our own situation.  Maybe that guy needed to take a page from Hooper’s book.

Hooper back in Oregon and back to work as a river guide.

6 comments to #192 “What’s Important to You”

  • Jack Vandeventer

    Good for Hooper. Good for his dad too.

  • Jim Boeckl

    A few thoughts come to mind having lived a lifestyle in my youth a little like Hooper’s – motorcycle racing, ski patrolling, raft guiding, and a handful of other adventure sports when I wasn’t working as a machinist to meet my financial obligations to do those things. People have different levels of drive for work and challenges as well as varying senses of satisfaction for the things they do. The man at the Victorville airplane cemetery may have been living the dream on the ragged edge of his reality.
    It is fascinating to consider the fork in the road Hooper came to – the Army or frolicking in the Virgin Islands – and the dichotomy of how the two paths would have influenced his life. Clearly, going into the Army would not have been the best choice, considering Hoop’s affection for the water. The Navy would have been a better option, but how could that compete with hanging around scantily-clad women? Oh, and I suspect that many of the women in the Virgin Islands, aren’t.

  • Robin

    Truer words never spoken. As I’ve always told my children, “Find something that you love to do and can get paid for and you’ll never work a day in your life”

  • Wendy White Philcox

    I think your approach to life, which your son acquired, is right on. ’tain’t easy balancing everyone’s needs and our own, I can say with AUTHORITY!!! But I spent this weekend with my Oregon-born Mustang Appaloosa at a really cool horse-focused event called Cracker Day and had a blast so I’m starting to come around…

  • Chris Rausch

    I own and operate a small restaurant. Jobs like washing dishes or cleaning that nasty grease under the fryer are hugely important to the overall operation.

    A good worker is a good worker. Our best people are the ones who are good dishwashers.

    • brian

      I believe that the only job I’ve ever known of where you could start at the top was digging postholes. You have to start somewhere and the more basic the start the more complete the education.

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