The best bosses I’ve ever had – Part One

As I was reading a good post by a friend of mine about how sub-par employees seem to get catered to by sub-par employers, while good, hardworking employees get to suck the hind tit, I was reminded of probably the best employers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. I may have embellished on Deb’s title, but that’s my spin on it.

I have had several great employers, and I’m going to make it my chore to write about all of them in time, but for now I’ll focus on the time I spent living with my brother Larry, and my other brother Larry in British Columbia’s lower mainland. I loved that area for a great many reasons, one of which was that magic mushrooms grew in a field near the house. Another reason was the camping trips in the mountains of Agassiz and Boston Bar and the May twofours at Hihium with the Larries. Those were some of the best times of my life, and the beginning of my “freedom”, and I’ll always look back at them with fondness.

Okay, now to tell you about Bill and Vernia Cherington, because they are the first of the two from that chapter in my life.

12th hole of the Chilliwack Golf Club. Another reason I loved living there.

 

I was living in Chilliwack and working for a company called Verbil Transport. I don’t believe they are still in business, or even still around that area, because I started trying to find them every once in a while since the inception of the modern internet. Vernia had battled cancer for years, and Bill had his own health problems, along with battling rising costs, as well as all of the undercutting in the lower mainland’s trucking industry. Instead of calling it undercutting, I’ll use the term “throat slashing”, as it’s far more accurate in explaining the the state of it all. I worked for Bill for a lot longer than I should have, because the pay was the shits, and the work was a little worse. The reason I stayed for as long as I did was because they were extremely kind, modest, and remorseful. They knew they were paying us a pittance of what we should have got, and they apologized for it on a daily basis.

 

I had almost quit after getting my first paycheque, but when I went to their house, I changed my mind. They were living in a very quaint mobile home, and it wasn’t like they were driving fancy vehicles. They were both around retirement age, and I don’t think that there was a possibility for retirement anytime soon. I talked to Bill about maybe getting a raise, and he said that he wanted to pay more, and he’d understand if I quit, but there was no money for raises. He said that he would give me any extra money from backhauls and picks, but for the most part the company was running bare bones.

I believed him, because I could see in his eyes that he was truly sorry.

His wife was a gorgeous, demure lady with a bit of an, I believe Scottish, accent, and they had two black labs that would come to work with them. They had to ride in his old truck, because she didn’t want her late 80’s model Celebrity wagon to get covered in hair. Bill loved her so much, that he couldn’t hide it if he wanted too. At every available moment, he would kiss her, call her “beautiful”, touch her hand, etc… He knew that the cancer could come back at any moment, and that would be it. He wept one day while he told me about how much she meant to him and how scared he was. How could you not want to be around that kind of love?

He loved his dogs unconditionally too. He would sit for long periods, just tossing tennis balls to them. They would playfully fight over them all the way back to him, and he’d do it again. To the point of not getting things done. You’d show up to see if he got the service done on the truck, and he hadn’t even started, because he was playing with the dogs. Well, what do you do? I just took over the ball throwing, and let him get back to work. They were really nice dogs, but they were getting old too, and I’m glad I wasn’t around when they crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I finally had to quit, because I was actually going broke from working there. It was working out to less than minimum wage, and I really felt bad, but I had to tell them I was done. I almost cried when he shook my hand, and thanked me for sticking around for so long. I don’t think I was even there for three months. He waited until I was done before telling me he figured he was going to have to sell everything off, because the one driver had just rolled a truck and trailer in the Yukon, and he didn’t know how long he could keep going like this. My heart was heavy from having to watch a really good man admit imminent defeat.

This is Bill’s “two story Edsel”

 

He told me that he’d write me up a letter of recommendation, and give my name to some people he knew in the business. I thanked him, gave him and Vernia a hug, played with the boys for a few minutes and went on to my next adventure, as short lived as it was. Every time I came back to town from a trip, I drove by the shop. If it was open, I’d stop in for a bullshit session with my friend, and listen to how the business was slowly getting smaller. He had five trucks when I started, one got wrote off up north, he sold two more over the next year, and just had two left. One was the two-story Edsel that I drove, and I think an old Freightshaker.

 

 

You don’t get to work for classy people like that very often, and I lucked out with two in the same time frame. I called Bill’s old number as I was writing this, but it’s still disconnected. I was hoping someone would answer that knew what had happened to them. I may find out one day, because information is getting to be a lot more free than it used to be, and because I’ll keep Googling whenever I think of it, hoping. People like that should be remembered, cherished, learned from. I know that they left their mark on me, and at least one other driver.

I recall thinking I’d never feel as much love for someone, as Bill felt for Vernia. Now that I’ve met the love of my life, I am happy to say it isn’t true.

Charlie’s got a gold watch, don’t seem like a whole lot,

Birdman

P.S. I’ve been hearing from a few of you that the email notifications aren’t working for subscribers, and I know they aren’t for me. If you are getting them, can you let me know please? I may have to switch to a different plug in or something. Alternatively you might find the RSS subscription useful. It doesn’t notify you, at least mine doesn’t, but it’s really handy if you say wanted to read Good Youngman Brown and this blog, you subscribe to the RSS feed of both, and read them in the same spot. I use Google Reader, but you can use any that you like. It can be confusing at first (for me, anyhow), so get a hold of me for instructions if you need them. Okay, bye.

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18 thoughts on “The best bosses I’ve ever had – Part One

  1. I love your writing so much. I could actually see Bill throwing the tennis ball. And feel your heart in this post. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    P.S. I got the email notification about this post.

    • I love you, Dustin. That is the nicest comment I’ve had in a very long time, or possibly ever. It means a lot to actually evoke an emotion that I was trying for. That is the whole reason I write this, and the fact that one person enjoys it, makes it totally worthwhile. Thank you.

  2. I was having issues with my e-mail notification thing too… got an e-mail saying that the subscribe thing was at a new link or something. I really should figure it out, but I’ve got other things to figure out first.

    As far as this post is concerned, I agree with Dustin that I could see him throwing the tennis ball, I could see the pain in his face in seeing you go, but more importantly I could feel the sadness of the money situation kept afloat by the love they shared for each other, life, and you… and the hope that they could keep it going one day at a time.

    • Thanks, it’s still one of those situations that I wonder if I should have done things differently. I’ll never know, but I know it would take more than me to keep them going. Even though I hadn’t been there long, I felt a strange obligation to them.

  3. Pingback: The best bosses I’ve ever had – Part Two (i)

  4. Pingback: The best bosses I’ve ever had – Part Two (ii)

  5. Birdman, That’s what we need more in this country; stand up people like you, Bill, and Verina. People just helping others out because its the right thing to do, even if it causes burden on yourself. It’s what this country was built on, but sadly our moral compass has been sorely distorted and eroded away by greed, selfishness, and money. It’s no wonder when our kids have role-models like the Kardashians, Lohans, and Chris Browns of the world. Not to mention, professional athletes that raise dogs to kill each other and beat their wives, and politicians making back-handed deals to sell our Country’s soul to the devil.

    We need more men and women like you Birdman.

    Great bit of writing, I enjoyed it. keep up the great work.

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

  6. I love these stories of bosses who haven’t let the fact they are in a position of power take away their humanity. Unfortunately they seem few and far between. Loved the sincerity behind this post. You’ re a good man Charlie Brown. 🙂

    • Why thank you, Pam. I have had several great bosses, but not as many as bad ones. I just think that it’s the craptastic ones that get the attention. As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and just being you.

  7. 🙂 This was a beautiful post. Couldn’t help but tear up reading it. It would be a real blessing to have some of the qualities that you describe in Bill and Vernia… I just wish that everything somehow went well for them in the end.

    • Thank you very much, and don’t worry too much about them. I think that they probably loved each other until their hearts couldn’t take it anymore. At least that’s what I hope.

  8. Thanks for a great emotional post – you’re a lucky man to have met and worked for people like them. I’m happy to hear you’ve found your love too! Hope things have worked out for Bill and Vernia in one way or another.

    • You are welcome, and thanks for reading it. As always, I appreciate the comments. I am trying to keep up with all of the Dude Write traffic, but with reading all of the other blogs, and my regular life, I am having a hard time.

  9. The human spirit, it seems, has died long ago. But every now and then you get a few people who are willing to help out. When they do come along, it is a beautiful thing…. as is this piece of writing!

    Great job, keep it up!

    • I am too. Sometimes people help me choose. If I had time, I’d go through and pick some that I love the most, but I barely have time to read everyone else’s posts. So much reading, and so much summer to enjoy.

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