Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chapter 59 Company Man

Presiding over company retirement and anniversary dinners was a duty I did not mind at all. It was a pleasure to celebrate these special events with our employees. Sometimes, however, it put a strain on the schedule. clip_image001One time I had done this at Hallettsville, a town that is half way between San Antonio and Houston. After all the celebration, I started home at about 11 PM. It was about 140 miles to home and I had the Commercial District manager with me. Bill Nix and I were both sleepy and the deal was he would keep me awake and talk a lot. About 1 AM we cut off the pavement at Pearsall, Texas and started down a country gravel road to Batesville and Uvalde.

Well, Bill was sound asleep and snoring with his head back and mouth wide open. There was a lot of noise, but he was definitely not talking to me. We had not seen a single car for almost an hour. I was having a real tough time staying awake, holding my head out the window and slapping my face as Bill continued to snore louder and louder. I finally had enough. I reached back to my high school days when we would try to swap ends in our Model A on the gravel parking lot. I stood on the brake and threw the car into a sideways slide on the gravel with my horn blaring without letup. Bill came up with both arms flaying the air and gasping, “what, where, what’s happening?” I said that I had to dodge a deer and he needed to help me watch the road. The rest of the way into Uvalde, Bill sat over there looking like a big owl sitting in a tree with both eyes wide open and chattering like a magpie.

clip_image001[5]Union grievances and problems at the offices around the district had pretty well subsided about this tine but a few would flare up from time to time. One was an on-going problem in the operating room at Eagle Pass. The operators kept insisting the plant man was deliberately setting the thermostat in the operating room so they would suffer from the heat or the cold. He had a lock and a cover over the thermostat so no one could change it. I had made several trips to Eagle Pass to discuss this problem with the plant stewards and the local union rep but it persisted. Then the complaints just completely stopped.

The next trip to Eagle Pass I inquired of the union rep about the problem and she informed me that, at her insistence, the Plant man unlocked the thermostat and took the protective case off so they could adjust the thermostat to whatever was comfortable for the operators. I made a point to find the plant man and thank him for solving this big problem. He winked at me and motioned me to come with him. We went behind the switchboard and he uncovered a panel and there was a new thermostat. He said, “This one is wired up and working, I cut the wires to the one in the operating room.” Problem solved!!

Photo of Hallettsville road found here.

Photo of telephone operators found here.

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