Saturday, June 04, 2011


Man on Fire

So, about a year ago, my grandfather passed away. Since I have only written one other entry on this blog since then, you don't have to look far to see that entry.

I live my life with few regrets. Mainly, I think looking back is a waste of time. There are important instances where looking back is vital (each week in church when I take the sacrament, I am looking back, and that is necessary), but most looking back is pointless to me. But there is one thing I wish my grandfather had known, and that is my nickname at work.

Some years ago, I stood outside my parents house in the pouring rain mixing concrete with my grandfather. I had been aiding my dad and grandfather on an addition at my parent's house, and we were attempting to put the finishing touches on the plaster on the outside of the house. I had finished a day at school, and it was raining pretty hard, so I figured we would not be working on the addition that day. I was wrong. I mixed concrete and served it up to my grandfather in the rain, and I was furious. He even made reference to it some years later, as he knew that I was less then thrilled with the situation.

My grandfather grew up in the depression, and I have even heard my grandmother say that my generation could use a depression to teach us something. To a certain degree, she may be right. But I always thought, especially when I was younger, that he thought me lazy, or at least not a hard enough worker.

Over the last couple of years, some of my coworkers began calling me "Man on Fire" when I run the floor. To those of you not familiar with the vernacular, "running the floor" at Trader Joe's means you are driving the crew and attempting to manage the processing of a load and the process of getting the products on the shelf. I became known as "man on fire" when I ran the floor, because I apparently have a look and an intensity about me when I run the floor that I don't otherwise have.

Recently, I was putting up some wine in the wine shop, and one of my crew members (he was training a new crew member) said to his trainee, "This is when we call Joel 'man on fire'." I realized then and there that I wish that Papa could have heard that nickname, and that he would know that while I never lived through the Great Depression, I was able to learn the value of hard work, and that I partly learned it from him.

From now on, every time I hear the nickname, I will think of him.

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