Tag Archives: work

‘Surprises, a story’


Crips R Us

As a walking talking but not obviously disabled person, I was gratified to hear, to see, and to experience the wonders of a talk by Dr. Richard Pimentel yesterday at the Pacific Gas and Electric Auditorium at 71 Beale Street in San Francisco. “Shattering Myths About Disabled Persons in the Workplace” was the title. It could have been more generic. Dr. Pimentel and the sign language interpreters could not have. When they made this man, they may have broken the mold. He rocked the house, with about 400 of us in attendance at this free noontime talk. He is a great storyteller, a dynamic speaker, and a fantastic promoter of civil rights.

San Francisco is a big juicy city and we have everything there. You can get a lap dance around the corner from where I work at 7th street, right on Market street at lunch time. Probably only takes a few minutes depending on your wallet and your interest, though I have never had one … I’m sure its great if that is your cup of tea. Speaking of tea you can also have many types of rare and choice Chinese tea in the same city, just about a mile south, might perk you up more than a lap dance, at a classic tea house in Chinatown. Or you could go to the PG&E building, arrive by noon, and enter the auditorium (after getting through registration, security, the guides, and the gates), and if you show up you could get some of the wrinkles ironed out of your brain and some education about affirmative action.

Why would you hire a disabled person? To give them a chance. Why would you keep hiring disabled people? Because the person you hired the first time you did it was such a fantastic employee that you decided that you were never going to rule out a potential candidate before interviewing them thoroughly and reviewing the possibilities and deciding whether or not this looked like the most promising choice, even if that candidate rolled to work instead of walking, even if they could not hear you when you called unless their assistive technology was pointed at you properly, even if they had a disability you could not recognize. Even if.

The speaker, Dr. Pimentel, addressed us all as human beings. That’s what we are; that’s our common ground. We come in as human beings, we leave as human beings. We want work, we want play, we want food and love and shelter just like anyone else. Some of us are veterans, some are wounded warriors, some of us wear our warrior marks underneath or from earlier battles.

All of us need meaningful work so that we can help build this country collectively into the greatest thing it has ever been. Do you not agree?

Thank you Dr. Pimentel for considering the consequences of addressing us truthfully about your journey and deciding that from the time from when they dropped that bomb on the beer bunker of the 101st airborne in Vietnam in 1966 until now… you have learned many valuable truths. Thank you for deciding that the story was worth telling, that in spite of the physical harm you suffered during your service that you have learned a few things that we could all benefit from. It was a great honor to hear you. It is a short ride from 7th and Market to the PG&E tower, and highly worth it. We were all made richer by sharing your experiences. You rock!

Michael Pachovis once said (when talking about how the disabled community works, specifically about how crips.net could help the Ashkenaz after it was threatened with closure), that many of us are involved in high tech and many of us support each other. That was an understatement, but it is enough to alert everyone: we are here, we are not going away, and we won’t be persuaded to stay inside and not live the same lives you are all trying to live. Not now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow.

Thank you also for helping me to be a better and braver civil rights advocate. You set a great example, and you are someone we all could learn from.

Thank you Dr. Pimentel for reminding all the hiring managers and staff and friends of PG&E that this is the truth, and that the truth is beautiful, and that it is also much stranger than fiction. Every time.

Cats, trackpads, work, parenting, and privacy…

My 11-year-old cat has been slowly learning how to work the laptop at home. She’s almost mastered the trackpad but keeps using her claws. When we were having a struggle the other night about who would use the keyboard she managed to hook one of her claws under the Control Key (the one with the apple on it), and remove the actual top part of the key.

I can’t figure out how to put parental controls on it. I’m working on it, slowly. I really don’t want her going online. At all. Period.

Cat sitting on concrete
Old torh7ujbbbb ju (she typed most of this caption)

Today I decided I want nothing more to do with Facebook, and started shutting everything down. I sent in a request to delete my account, and then deleted it myself.

I feel so much better now.

Back to work!

Neptune’s Daughter, Part 1

{ Neptune’s Daughter }

Once upon a time there was a Woman who
wanted her own home. She decided it would be nice
to live on a houseboat. So then she wanted her own
home with a slip attached. Just a small slip. A yacht slip,
if you please.

Men heard about it, when they asked.
They were duly horrified. They claimed that
all of the time they lived in such a place,
they would be worrying about the next time they had to
haul their home out of the water,
to scrape off the barnacles or to paint the Bottom.
Then they began gibbering like frightened
monkeys, asking her had she thought about weather, about
old King Neptune.

The Woman scoffed at such questions, wisely knowing these Men and their ilk would never cohabit with her under any circumstances.  Neither by stealth nor  invitation, neither by insinuation nor brute force. Nope.

Mosaic on Stairwell, Bridgehead studios, Day 2

Neptune's Daughter Thinks Barnacles Are Overrated

Still, she didn’t own a houseboat.
She had a landlord. She also had no live in boyfriends, paramours, nor roommates.
She had a cat.
She had a job.
She worked.
She dreamed.

She also worked with a Lady who wanted to know why this Woman always knew more than everyone else about everything (about 90% of everything, by this Lady’s calculations).
‘Ah,’ cried the Woman, ‘Just because I have lived, because in living I have done many things, and because I have always had to pay some Landlord.’
‘I don’t own any property, and I always have to pay some Landlord, just to live.
You work, you learn things, you pay the Landlord. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. That’s Life.’

Thus she knew a lot about a lot of subjects.
Thus her Teenager despised her company as any good teenager would do, for being a Know it All.
Thus she worked. Thus she struggled.
Thus she soldiered on, alone and Houseboat-less. Over-Educated.
Ah. Well, then!

Since she still knew so little about Houseboats, this Woman felt free to continue dreaming. When she slept, she dreamed.
Ownership, Home, Yacht Slip. That kind of thing.

One day, this Woman got near the end of her Rope.
She was Angry, Fed Up, Tired.  She had a Hissy Fit. It scared her. She cried.
Then the storm passed, the sun came out, the birds sang in the trees again.
All was well. She ate an apple and took a nap, this Woman.

She worked on. She lived. Time passed.
The Storm clouds gathered again, and not on a 28-day cycle, either.
The Woman was concerned.
She found that every time she felt a Storm coming on, she worried more. She fretted.
How could she be So Angry? So Righteously Fed Up? How?
Since she began Worrying More, this Woman stayed far, far away from her Teenager. To preserve things, she said.
Her Boyfriend started giving her short, thoughtful kisses at the door, not demanding much, listening, trying to Be There For Her, bringing small occasional gifts. Tippy-toeing around. Trying extra hard to be affectionate, thoughtful, attentive, patient.

The Woman then suffered from Chronic Insomnia. She wasn’t worried about barnacles, either. She was worried about how to keep her mouth shut.
For really, truly, that is what this World expects from Women. Silence. Discretion.  That rot.
It was not how she was raised, not who she Was, this Silence.
It started to wear on her, this silence, this Insomnia.
She sought medical help, and eventually, medication.
She slept a little, sometimes.
She still worried, felt broken, incomplete.
Something was wrong.

The Woman found that every time the clouds gathered and the pressure built up, she needed to Speak Truth to Power. In fact, to the King.  It was a passion that built up silently, indescribably, and then overcame her. A storm. A crisis. A truth telling. A withdrawal, horrified, to consider Consequences.
It was frightening, really.
She came home sometimes, having saved herself narrowly from this truth speaking, and ranted to her Cat.

Her worries deepened.
She felt like she had her finger in a dike. She could feel the flood building.
Everything about her life, her health, her relationships with family hinged on being continuously and productively employed.
She knew that.
To speak truth to power is to risk destruction. It is the equivalent of raising your face to stare unblinking at the Sun.
She knew that.

The Woman sometimes wondered about the stuff other people fretted about. Neptune. Taxes. Death. Betrayal. Disease. Homelessness. Friendlessness. Barnacles. Old Age. Muggers. Abandonment. Rape.
She’d been through all that, nearly totally, and survived.
She wasn’t fretting about that, only Truth-Telling. Its consequences. Only that.
The Woman realized this one day and then realized she was on a Threshold.
She was about to Do Something.
She had stuff to Do. She was about to Make Changes.
She had very little to lose, but was still afraid, still a bit tentative.
She was like that with new things, this Woman.

The Cat stared, purred, made biscuits on the blankets, and waited for Treats.
She turned and slept. The Woman ranted on paper, on pixels, in thin air, in the bath, out in the yard, in her Dreams.  The Woman began to Worry Deeply. Her insomnia grew. The wheels began regularly to fly off her Little Red Wagon, usually manageably, usually one at a time. She would pause, bend down metaphorically, and put them back on. But still, she worried.

Then the Woman went to work one day and just Let Fly With Truth.
She didn’t know she was about to do it; she didn’t feel it coming.
The King simply asked her what she thought of something one morning.
She paused, drew a breath, and then told him. She told him thoughtfully and
truthfully, but not too Politely. He was a bit taken aback, and then he thanked her. He left. As he was leaving, he said he would get back to her with a Plan. Tomorrow, he said.

Her worry increased.
She wondered if she could get used to it.
It didn’t relieve the Pressure totally. Not all the way.
So she immediately told the Vizier. Then she told the Queen.
All when asked, all when on the same Subject of Which She’d Told Truth.
All the same Truth. All regarding them, their lack of leadership,
all about them making the same error over
and over for 2 years straight, and expecting different results,
and not even Failing Better, what did it prove?
How was it her job to help them patch things up?
What was the reward, where was her duty exactly? Was it part of career development? Where was this leading, anyway?
More and more, on and on, until this set of so-called leaders drew away from the Woman and her truth-telling, weary.

The men around her who heard about the Truth coming down that day… demurred. They said it was not their affair, that they were not sure it was a good idea. That it was in fact, probably something to
Never Do.

The Woman’s Boyfriend was silent, affectionate, thoughtful, attentive. Her Teenager was silent, unaware. Her Cat washed herself, blissfully.

Right after that Truth Telling, the same day, the Woman then went, kneeled down in the earth, and gave fertilizer and water to the King’s tree. He thanked her.  He described the history of the tree. She wondered. She had come, after all, to do this work On Request. He wanted to pay for the fertilizer, the soil, the care, this King. She wondered some more. She said she would accept one dollar. He insisted on giving her ten.

She wondered, this Woman, if it was not time to finally start shopping
for Houseboats. ‘Why Not?’ thought she ‘…. it seems like anything
is Possible…’

Then the Woman went home, ate dinner; she took a bath, she slept. She still wondered.

Storms, when you come, you do not consider Timing. Do you?

Grandpa’s Employment History (before Death of a Salesman)

My Dad once told me that he thought “Death of a Salesman” was one of the saddest plays ever written. Told me that Grandpa had bad luck like Willy Loman; Dad said that he’d cried and left the theater the first time he saw this play (as a young man), that he couldn’t sit through the second act. It reminded him too much of watching his father struggle professionally.

I’ve certainly had my own struggles with reinvention of a professional nature. I can relate to difficulty in watching the struggles of people I love and admire.  While I understand this play is a tragedy, I agree with my cousin Don Luce; older people have a different take on the arc of this story than young people. To young people, it looks like a life wasted. To older people who have struggled more, seen more, fought harder — it looks like a drama of a different kind.  Perhaps the real tragedy is giving up hope, or of not learning from the mistakes of the prior generation, or from your own mistakes.  It may be possible for me to sit through the play without bolting the theater in the manner of my ancestors.

This script may not have aged as well as some of Arthur Miller’s other works.  Perhaps Willy Loman would never have gotten angry or occupied Wall Street. Perhaps he’s lost in a way we no longer understand. But I don’t think watching this will devastate me at this stage of my life, in spite of how raw any ongoing struggle might be for me. Hope dies last. Today is a chance for change, another opportunity to learn and move on from mistakes. If we give that up, what are we left with?

What I understand is that my Grandpa worked hard and wrestled against the odds, much like everyone else did. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  If he ever had one in there, it was because somebody forgot to take it out after the photo opportunity. He had some breaks, and perhaps they didn’t pay off. At some points, the struggle was too overwhelming for one person — and Dad was a witness to some of those times.

My Dad had his own struggles. I’ve got mine. But in these pages, I read resilience, I read curiosity, I read initiative, and I read some double dealing on the part of Fate or other so-called Managers. I don’t think this makes Grandpa’s life a tragedy. Your life is a tragedy if that is all you define it as.

I remember Grandpa as a man who loved to go fishing, and who generously took us along. Kenelm Tracy Winslow was a man who loved buckwheat pancakes; he loved putting Barbasol® on his Christmas tree to simulate snow in winter, and who would play with us on the Slip N’ Slide® in the backyard in summer. Grandpa taught us how to shoot cat food cans off the back fence in his yard until Mom got mad and took the beebee guns away.

Some of the Winslow Tracy Clan, Chico, CA, August, 1960

Tracy Winslow Family members (August, 1960): Chico, CA

He taught us how to be on the road on an adventure, since every time he drove us to Paradise we thought we were actually visiting Heaven.  He taught us how to skip stones, to have fun, to relax. He held us close while he watched a game on the television. What may be tragic is that he didn’t grow wealthy from his hard work; but does that take away the fact that he did the work, that he loved us, and that we got to share in his life?

My Grandpa, Kenelm Tracy Winslow, wrote the following piece probably as part of an application for something sometime after 1944.  I’m not sure what he wrote it for, nor am I sure exactly when. We found the pages of typescript tucked into a scrapbook of my Mom and Dad’s wedding photos. More on that later. Grandpa’s bio / text follows the picture.

Photo of my granddad, KT Winslow

Kenelm Tracy Winslow, circa 1948

Personal History, K. T. Winslow.
30 (b)
1. Worked as a bank clerk with the Tracy Loan and Trust Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. R.L. Tracy, President of this company, is my uncle and I entered this bank at the wish of my mother and uncle. My salary was $125.00 per month. Resigned because of my desire to work independent of relatives.

Image of a silver spoon from Russel Lord Tracy's bank in Utah

Tracy Loan and Trust 8th Annual Dvidend

2. Worked as clerk in the San Francisco offices of the Reliance Life Insurance Company, where I made $100.00 per month salary. Left this position in an endeavor to better myself.
3. (a) Worked as distributor of kitchen aluminum in the San Francisco Bay Area for the Dilver Aluminum Company of Pittsburgh. This lasted about six months, when a defaulting partner ruined the business.
(b) Worked for Durant Motor Company of California as car order clerk for a few months, at a salary of $100.00 per month.
(c) Left this position to sell automobiles for Durant dealer in San Rafael, California.
(d) When this dealership folded up, I sold real estate and rented houses for the D. L. Jung Company, Berkeley, California. During this period my salary and earnings ran about $1200.00 a year.
4. (a) Started working for the Engineering Sales Company (C.A. Watts) of San Francisco at a salary of $125.00 a month. I was a stenographer. This was about 1926.
(b) Three months later I was handling the sales of this employer who as a manufacturer’s agent, handled such lines as Waukesha Motor Company, Waukesha, Wisconsin; Racine Radiator Company (later the Young Radiator Company and the Perfex Radiator Company) of Racine, Wisconsin; Pick Couplings, and Palmer B. Speed Reducers. My salary was increased to $150.00 per month. At this point I became interested in mechanical engineering, it being necessary to have a good working knowledge of design and performance characteristics of the Waukesha Motor Company’s truck and industrial engines, and to understand proper installation of the Racine Radiator Company’s truck and industrial plant cooling radiators.
(c) After I had been with company a year my salary was increased to $175.00 per month, and I was given a 10% interest in the business. During this period I traveled up and down the Pacific Coast soliciting business and assisting engineering departments in their installations of our products in such concerns as Fageol Motor Company (truck and bus manufacturers) of Oakland, California; the McDonald Truck Manufacturing Company of San Francisco, California; the DeMartini Truck Manufacturing Company of San Francisco, California; the Rix (compressor manufacturing company) of San Francisco, California; and other manufacturing companies in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. I also assisted in the installation of 300 horsepower engines in the “Yarders” and “Donkeys” for the logging industry of the Pacific Northwest. At the request of the Waukesha Motor Company, I left this position and took a position with them.
5. (a) I started working for the Waukesha Motor Company as an order and production clerk at a salary of $250.00 per month. I had under my direction six clerks. With the assistance and direction of Mr. J. B. Fisher, Chief Engineer, of the Waukesha Motor Company, I did home study on engine design and combustion characteristics.
30 (b) Con’t.
(b) Up to 1932 I alternated in the shop, office and on the road in sales and service work. During the depression years I took whatever salary cuts as were made throughout the plant and at the lowest ebb my salary was reduced 50%.
(c) In 1932 I was one of the five men chosen by the Waukesha Motor Company to assist the Co-operative Fuel research (C. F. R.) committee in research work on a method of determining the Octane number of gasoline. During this time I was constantly in the laboratory, or attending scientific lectures and meetings and at the same time, carrying on private research along these lines. During my association with this committee I wrote several papers on the fuel research work and delivered them before the Society of Automotive Engineers in Chicago, Baltimore, at A.S.T.M. meetings and at various universities throughout the country, including Purdue, Notre Dame, Lehigh University, etc. At Lehigh University Mr. H.V. Cummings, Chief Automotive Power Plant Section, U.S. Department of Commerce, and I were on the same program. We also worked together in C. F. R. work.
(d) At the end of 1932 when the C. F. R. engine design and fuel testing procedure was established, I was placed in charge of this variable compression fuel research unit, which by this time had been adapted to both self ignition (diesel) and spark ignition (gasoline) units. In promoting the sale of this unit I visited and sold the unit to large fuel distributing Companies, fuel refineries, and at each place demonstrated and explained the principles on which the tests were conducted. When the American Society of Testing Materials adopted the C. F. R. unit as a standard, its sale became automatic.
(e) In 1933 I was placed in charge of sales for Waukesha truck and bus, as well as industrial engines in the southern states, headquartering in Birmingham, Alabama. In this capacity I called on such manufacturers as used engines in the products they manufactured. This included pump, truck, shovel, and other manufacturers of construction equipment, boat works, etc. In all of these instances I assisted in the engineering of products which were being manufactured in so far as the engineering problems concerned the proper installation of the engine. I made installation of irrigation systems, drainage systems, and pumping plants, also power plants for creameries, ice cream plants, and stand-by units.
(f) During this time the Waukesha Motor Company developed the Hesselman spark ignition diesel fuel burning engine and I became so familiar with the design of this unit that I was called upon to make installations and to service them, both from a commercial and experimental angle. This gave me a full and detailed knowledge of gasoline, natural gas, and diesel engines. I continued to read and study gasoline and diesel engines under the direction of Mr. J. B. Fisher and Mr. Arthur Pope, Chief and assistant chief engineers of the Waukesha Motor Company.
(g) In 1935 I was asked to teach the design, the care and operation of the Diesel and Hesselman engines which the Waukesha Motor Company were then building. I was given complete charge of this work and carried on classes which were attended by engineers, mechanics, and executives of the various customers of the Waukesha Motor Company. I resigned in 1935 for a better position. At the time of leaving my salary was $250.00 per month.
6(a) I accepted a position as Industrial Branch Sales Manager in the Tractor Division of the Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

30 (b) Con’t.
(b) I was immediately transferred to the Sales Promotion Department. Salary $225.00 per month. (A bonus of ½% went with the Industrial Branch Sales Manager’s position). In this capacity I carried on education work on the design and service and operation of the Spark Ignition Diesel Fuel Burning engine this company was using, and also upon the design and service care of the Tractors, Motor Patrols, and other items of road machinery they manufactured. During this time I visited every branch of the Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company in the United States, sometimes carrying on classes of instruction to as many as 150 people. I also spoke before other organizations such as the Paving Engineer’s Club, Chicago, Illinois, and the Altoona Engineering Society, Altoona, Pennsylvania. My salary was increased to $275.00.
(c) In 1938 I was made Industrial Sales Manager for the Southwest Division at a salary of $325.00. In this position I had under my supervision, seven industrial Branch house organizations, totaling 50 people, and indirectly I had working for me the dealer’s organization under these branches. Their total personnel were around 300 people.
(d) In 1938 I was made Industrial District Manager for the state of Minnesota and North Dakota. In this capacity I worked directly with dealers in the two states who employed about 30 people. I assisted contractors in estimating their work, recommended proper machinery for the work they had to do, and assisted in setting up repair shops for both the contractors and the dealers where needed; checked parts inventory and service records. I was paid a salary and bonus and earned between $4200.00 and $4400.00 a year. In May 1941, I was discharged, no reason given, and was told I would be given a recommendation and listed as having resigned. Incidentally the company had just come through a severe strike, and their defense orders were such that very little equipment was available to the dealers.
7.(a) In June, 1941 I went to work as an expeditor for the Procurement and Expediting Section of the Zone Construction Quartermaster’s Office, Omaha, Nebraska. I handled construction machinery. I was given this appointment by executive order #3564 of October 8, 1940, and given a rating as Engineer (p-4) Salary $3800.00 per annum.
(b) I was transferred to the Omaha district office of the U.S. Engineers when the Zone Construction Quartermaster’s Office was absorbed by the Engineers, and was made Assistant Chief of the Mechanical Section. Had under my supervision six people.
(c) In March 1942 I took and passed a Civil Service Examination and was given a rating as Senior Engineer (Mechanical) P-5 calling for a salary of $4600 per year.
8.(a) On April 21st, 1942 the 8th Civil Service District, St. Paul, Minnesota wired me that the Office of Emergency Management requested my transfer from the U.S. Engineers. I accepted the transfer and took the position of Administrative Officer in the office of the State Rationing Administrator (Grant McFayden) Lincoln, Nebraska. My civil service classification in this position is an Administrative classification of CAF-12 salary $4600.00.

[ends here]