Holding the flashlight

I recently heard a speaker say this, “I hated holding the flashlight for my Dad.”

The speaker continued on with his perspective of this simple little task. He told how as a little boy his Dad always asked him to hold the flashlight while working on various tasks that needed just a little more light.  Fixing a blown fuse, a broken light fixture, switch, or something on the old Plymouth. What he remembers the most was when, (not if) the beam of light drifted from the work area, his Dad would snort which alerted this young man to pull the flashlight back into position. He hated doing this.

I remember these days as well.

As a youngster in the mid-1960s & ’70s, I held the flashlight and did many other simple tasks for my Dad.

I carried and fetched tools, pulled weeds, dug holes, filled holes, used a sickle, swept the shop floor, wire brushed the spots Dad welded, stuck welding rods in the holder (I was always scared I would get shocked), siphoned gasoline, sanded the wood & metal projects, washed the cars, washed engine parts in gasoline, hauled fuel oil for the furnace, scrapped paint, held pieces of metal and wood as my Dad cut them, welded nailed or glued them together, washed his truck, scrubbed the tires, planted potatoes (eyes up) and pulled the electrical wire through conduit. These are just a few of the little tasks that I did with my Dad as a child and young adult. Often as I did these and many other tedious tasks, my Dad stood watching and coaching me on how to do them right.

Back then I was not always happy doing that stuff.

Today, I appreciate that I got to do them for a couple of big reasons:

  1. I learned by watching my Dad. I learned to do electrical work, welding, gardening, plumbing, woodworking, and lots more stuff.  I learned a lot.  Today I can do all of these things myself. Not only has this saved me lots of money as I raised my own family,  I also enjoy doing these things.
  2. I learned patience, attention to detail and doing things right.  Dad was a stickler to doing it right the first time. No cutting corners or doing anything just to get it done. Do it right, or don’t do it is what I learned from my Dad.

When my girls were home I had them hold the flashlight for me. I snorted at them just a little bit when the beam of light fell away from the work area and they pulled the flashlight back into place.  I hope they learned as much from me as I learned from my Dad.

Who is holding your flashlight and are they learning from you?

Happy Fathers Day Dad. I love you and treasure the days of holding the flashlight.

How to hire a plumber

According to an article James Griffin shared on LinkedIn this past weekend you pick a plumber based on the following criteria:

Do they have good recommendations from other homeowners?
How long have they been in business?
Are they adequately insured?
Do they guarantee their work?
Are you a member of the Association of Plumber and Heating Contractors

I have a better way of hiring a plumber:

My wife wanted a bathroom in our basement, where there is no bathroom yet. I did some research on what I would need to do in order to put a bathroom below our septic system. I found a thing called Macerator toilet. I researched the type of piping that I would need to install, water pipes, vent pipes and the waste pipe connection to the existing septic system.

I then called my brother-in-law. He is a plumber and knows everything about plumbing. (remember – I’m a Networking Strategist and Social Media Coach).

I told him what I was doing and what pump, toilet and sink components I wanted to use.
He was a little concerned about the macerator pump. “You may want to use a regular toilet and bury a septic tank & pump below the concrete floor. They work a lot better.”

He came down on a Friday afternoon to do the work. Later on Friday his son, also a plumber, showed up.

These two guys practically did all the work themselves to install the basement sewer tank, sewage pump, and all the pipes. They even put up some of the drywall so I would not have to cut big holes in the drywall when I did that work.

How to pick a plumber – you have a good brother-in-law who knows that I would have mucked it all up.

Thanks for all the help guys. I appreciate all that you did for me & Bum.

A gift to be given

We all carry the gift of life with us. If you can do it (weight & health wise), please share your gift of life.

I strive every 56 days to give blood. The team @ the American Red Cross in Winston-Salem make it easy and enjoyable to do.

They have a system in place that either mails or calls to remind me of my upcoming appointment. The phone calls are always pleasant and timely. I look forward to them emailing or better yet tweeting or Social Media Messaging me my appointment reminder.

Bum & I try to make our appointments on Sunday mornings.  This morning (7/15/12) we noticed that at least one other person was on the same donation schedule as we are. That’s pretty cool to see there are others who have the same desire to give.

The volunteers are always nice and know their roles at the Winston-Salem center. I love a good smile on a volunteer.

The phlebotomist that work this center are very skilled and enjoyable folks. They love what they do and enjoy helping people thru their work at the American Red Cross. They keep track of the people who donate and their lives. Today Ann remembered that my wife and I just had a wedding, even remembered our daughter & her new husband’s names. Great customer relationship skills.

The phlebotomist who took care of me today was very delightful, enjoyed her job and did it very well. She did her job while still chatting with me and even teasing me as I joked with her. She even educated me on an issue that I did not know about. Don’t squeeze hard while the blood is flowing. Gentle squeezes are much better than the death grip squeeze. Death grips squeezes actually slow down the flow.

If you are not giving blood on a regular basis – I strongly urge you to go visit the good people at American Red Cross and share the gift of life.

Tell the team there that I said hello.



Why me Lord?

Why Me Lord?

I regularly ask myself: “Why me Lord?”

For months now, I have asked myself this question nearly every day.  In fact, I even I started wondering it out loud and even praying for an answer, asking: ”What did I do to become so blessed?”

Why am I the lucky one?  Why is my life so fabulous and easy?  Why do I have such a great family? Why am I so healthy.  Why do I have enough of the materialistic stuff to make my life comfortable and enjoyable?

Why have I been chosen to be so blessed? Why me Lord?

I still don’t know all the answers, but I get messages every now and then that I am now trying to pay attention to.

The messages seem to be a guidance to something new.  Something different, important and relevant.

I got another message this past December 2010.  Here’s what happened:

It was a normal 5:30 pm end to another chaotic workday downtown.  As I headed down the ramp from Broad Street to I-40 West, traffic snarled and nearly stopped. Snorting to myself about the delay, I crept down the ramp and saw that there was a car stopped right smack at the end of the ramp.  I snorted again, I wanted to get home, dang it!  Traffic was real heavy as I am sure everyone had the same plans I had – get home.  No one would cut anyone any slack, so there was no merging going on here today, especially as everyone tried to get around the stalled car.

In less than a minute I was next in line to scoot past the disabled car.  I was pushing the clutch in, hurriedly yanking the gearshift down into 2nd just as I pulled up alongside the disabled car.  My mind processed “Finally, Yeah!,” just as I looked out my passenger side window and saw a lady crying her eyes out in the disabled car.  Years or maybe months before I would have yanked the car into the next gear and kept going, but today, I pressed the clutch in, down shifted and twisted the steering wheel to the right to stop in front of the disabled car.

I jumped out of my car and walked back to the disabled car, very aware that all of the other drivers were ticked off at me because I was now an additional delay for them as lots of them slowed even more to see what I was going to do. Lots of people were looking at me with disdain and scowling faces as if I were their newest big pain of the day.  The repeated piercing looks were very real and somewhat hurtful.

As I walked toward her, I could see and hear the hysterical crying.  She appeared to be falling apart as she sat in the immobile car, knuckles white as she grasped the steering wheel, her entire body shaking, gasping for air, her head jerking up and down and her face red with pain and terror.

I walked up to her car, tapped gently on the glass and beckoned for her to wind down the window, thinking she would press a button, but instead, she started actually “winding” it down.  I quickly viewed the car and saw it to be an old, damaged and apparently worn out car, full of “stuff” scattered about the seats and floorboard.

I leaned closer to her and in the calmest voice I could use, yet be heard over the roar of cars flying past us, said, “It looks like your car does not love you today. Let’s see what we can do to get you out of here. My name is Teddy, what is your name?”

Still sobbing uncontrollably, she responded, “I’m Pam.  I just had my car worked on and it cost me all the money I had in the bank, and now it’s broke again.  My son is very sick and in the hospital.  He is going into surgery in an hour and I need to get there with his stuff before they take him to the operating room.  My cell phone does not work and I don’t even know who I would call.” The tears streamed down her face as she spoke.

Keeping calm I said, “Well, we can’t worry about your broken car right now, let’s figure out what to do to get you over to the hospital.  Maybe what we should do is call the police and tell them your car is blocking traffic and I’ll drive you over to the hospital while we call a tow truck.” Crying maybe just a little bit less, she said, “Will you do this for me?” “Yes Pam, I want to do this for you.”

I decided that since traffic was really messed up, I would call 911 and ask them what to do.  Again, in a calm and direct voice I told Pam to get her stuff and head to my car, which she started doing.  I helped her carry a few of the bags of things she had for her son as I dialed and then talked with a 911 operator. Almost on cue a City Police car came over the hill, flipped on its blue lights and pulled up behind Pam’s car.  Letting the 911 operator know that the City Cop was here, she hung up.  I walked back toward the cop and quickly told him what was happening.  Pam’s hysteria had slipped aside and she appeared much calmer now that the police officer was here to help her.

He had another plan.  ”My dad is in the hospital and that is where I am heading right now.  I’ll take her there.”  So, in a few quick movements we moved Pam’s bags over to the cop’s car for plan B.

The cop asked Pam to drift her car down the hill and onto a section of grass alongside the road so that she would not be blocking traffic anymore and so that he would not have to call an emergency wrecker (i.e. lots of $$) to move it; a better idea from someone with more traffic-chaos experience.

As Pam, now much calmer, headed back to the police car, I said good-bye and good luck.  She stopped, turned and nearly blocking traffic again, gave me a big hug, saying, “Thank you for stopping.  No one else wanted to stop, let alone get out and help me in any way.  You did and you stayed calm while all the cars flew by.  I really appreciate your help.”  I wished her well and told her I would pray that her son’s surgery went well.

I got in my car and drove off.  The total time involved with Pam and her problems had to be less than 10 minutes.  But in that 10 minutes I again faced my unrelenting question, “Why me Lord?”

Here was a lady who has an old junker car, is out of money, worried about her sick child, no idea how to solve her current problem and no one willing to help her.

It seems like such a simple issue now, but at that moment Pam’s problems all piled up to become so overwhelming to cause her to melt down on the highway.

As I drove away, I’m not sure exactly why, but I started to tear up myself.  Let me honest here, I actually cried out loud in my car as I continued to ask, “Why me Lord?”

Again – Why am I the lucky one?  Why is my life is so fabulous and easy?  Why do I have such a great family?  Why am I so healthy.  Why do I have enough of the materialistic stuff to make my life comfortable and enjoyable?  Why do I have a good job and make good money?

Why have I been chosen to be so blessed?  Why me Lord?

I may have an answer, or at least part of the answer.

“I have so that I can give.”

And, I think the giving I am supposed to do is not in the typical way of donating a little money here and there, or doing a little volunteer work when it fits my schedule.  This is important, but I think it’s not enough for me.

No, I think the giving I am supposed to be doing is going to be at another level.

So, I have taken a leap of faith, far bolder than I have ever done before. I quit my job to find out exactly what it is I am supposed to do to fulfill my new role of Giving Back.  I have decided that making lots of money is not what’s important to me any longer.  My bills need to be paid and getting some of what I want is somewhat important, but helping individuals directly is what I need to be doing.  I am on a quest to find a new role where I do this every day.

It’s my quest, no one else needs to be on it with me.  However, I wonder, who else is as blessed as I am and asks the same question I do every morning, “Why me Lord?”

If you are blessed in any way, have you asked yourself the question – “Why me Lord?

Do believe you have so that you can give?