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.
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.
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,
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.