I AM Charlie Brown!

I am Charlie Brown

I think maybe it’s because my birthday coincides with the first syndicated appearance of Charlie Brown in the newspapers back on October 21, 1950. I have always been like “good ol’ Charlie Brown” even before I knew who he was. It could be that or either just the luck of the Irish (or the Scotch-Irish in my case) but when I was young, every time the gang in our neighborhood got together to choose up sides for baseball or football, I always started to get a knawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just knew that no matter what happened, I would be the last one chosen for the team.

It wasn’t that I was that bad a player, because I wasn’t. There were just a lot of decisions which entered into who was chosen and who wasn’t. Rickey was chosen first because he was the fastest. Mikey was chosen early because he was small and quick and could maneuver well. Mike B. was chose early because of his HUGE size. Hiram was chosen, because he was the meanest and nobody wanted to choose the meanest guy last. Stanley was the friendliest so he got picked. So, by the time the last choice came around, it was me who was left. The last boy to be chosen.

I was mediocre at most things. In baseball, I was probably the best hitter though. I later won a lot of games for my team in Little League, although I was the last kid picked by a coach for his team. I steered away from baseball and football in High School and went with “individual” sports like golf and tennis, where I did well.

I’m not sure what the problem has always been. Maybe I don’t smile enough. I sure never kissed up to anyone just to be chosen, I considered that below my dignity. Guess it’s just part of that Scotch Irish heritage thing again, where my ancestors never bent their knees to the English. I am sure quite a few of my ancestors got a chopping or a hanging because they wouldn’t bend quickly enough. FREEDOMMMMM…….Hmm,..guess I watched “Braveheart” one too many times.

I was big, but not the biggest, fast but not the fastest, quick but not the quickest. For sure I was never the meanest. Definitely not the friendliest. Maybe the quirkiest. Yep, for sure that.

But I guess the main thing is that it really never bothered me that much back then to BE the one chosen last. It bothered all the other guys, and if they were the last one picked they would raise all kinds of hell, and get their feelings hurt. I never did. It bothered me some, but all I really wanted to do was be a member of the team, and I always got to do that even if I was the last one, so what did it matter really? The proof of your worth comes after the choosing not during it. So, I guess that’s another reason why I was always the last one chosen. I took it calmly. I was always the mediator and rarely the instigator. It must be because I’m a Libra. That causes me to believe in a certain balance. Or maybe because I believe God made us all the same on the inside.

As I have gone on through growing up and into my adult life, it has become more difficult to be the last one chosen. I still exhibit most of the same qualities I did as a kid. I am smart, but not the smartest. Quick to learn, but not quite the quickest. I work hard, but there are probably some people out there who work harder. I am consistent in my beliefs about how people should be treated, but I am still not mean. I believe in treating other people like I want to be treated. I still don’t smile that often, and I am terrible at telling jokes. Most jokes require that you belittle someone or something, and I am just not going to do it. I don’t like talking about myself and what I have accomplished, or failed to accomplish for that matter. I just still believe in that balance. I believe in being calm and waiting for all the decisions to be made and for all the choices to be exercised.

I believe that fairness should be Universal and not just reserved for the richest, the strongest, the most advantageously placed politically, the meanest, nor due to any other quality that might be construed as giving a person the appearance of forbearance or special treatment. I despise favoritism. Fair is fair. People know what is fair and what isn’t. It is an innate quality that is placed within each of us a birth. The only difference is that some humans believe in “being” fair, and some don’t.

So, many days in many ways I still wait to be chosen. I have a good record in life, not outstanding but good, and always trying to be fair and fight injustice. Just like back in my baseball playing days I have had a good average and have always helped the teams I have been on. I would love to be chosen first sometime in life, BUT even if I am still the LAST one chosen I will continue to do my best to be above average. Even if things don’t turn out to be exactly fair in THIS life, I think that the Universal “balancer” will square things up one of these days. It may be a while yet, but it is one thing that IS inevitable.

Of All the Jobs I’ve Loved (and Hated) Before.

When it comes to jobs, I have run the gambit. I have worked as an hourly worker doing hard manual labor.

I made mattresses.

And when I say I made them, I mean just that. I threw the naked heavyweight springs onto a wooden table and added the “innards” of the mattress, the foam, the cotton batting and then thicker foam and the quilted cover. (Which I had already also made on the quilting machine…I was a one man department)

I took a “hog ringer” which is an air gun which bends large metal staples through the cover and attaches them to the spring. I got my thumb in the way several times and ended up with one of those things through my thumb. Most of the time, if I just shot them through the corner of my thumb I would just have someone else take a pair of plyers and unbend the ring. Once when I shot one straight through the middle of my thumbnail I had to let a Doctor get it out. He used a pair of plyers too.

The only difference was the tetanus shot.

After hog ringing the cover onto the spring and filling up a huge buggy with mattresses, I would take them to “tape edge machine” and sew the cover to the “boxing” which is the narrow strip which runs around the circumference of the mattress. You would pick the mattress up off the buggy, throw it on the sewing table and pull it up under the tape edge machine. You would then sew completely around the mattress, flip it over and while putting pressure on the mattress with your right arm to hold it down, you would use the knee lever which moved the machine to sew the second side. The king size mattresses were about 90 pounds each. If the “boxing” was a little narrow then it required a lot of pressure to sew the second side. It was like holding down a horse to give it a dose of castor oil.

I once did nearly 100 mattresses in one day, since we were on “incentive” meaning the more I did, the more it paid.

This company worked ten hours a day four days a week, with two ten minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. During the half hour lunch I usually slept.

For the first two weeks before my body got used to it, I would come home at night and just fall onto the bed and lay there. I didn’t even feel like eating, although I ended up finally doing so because I needed energy for the next day.

There were many weeks when our orders were not very good and they started cutting our work down to three days instead of four. I was in a lazy “funk” at that time, and I did this for two years,1980-82, before moving on to the world of medical supply sales, at my wife’s highly motivating suggestion that we needed more money to raise our growing family. We did, and I got out of my doldrums and got my butt to work.