Wondering about wild grapes

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wondering about my work

First off, did you all remember to reset your clocks? I did, and when the dogs woke me this morning I thought that I had slept in an extra hour and was happy about that, and then I remembered that I had set the clocks ahead last night.

Windy Bob left this comment on my Friday’s blog, Retired, Semi-Retired, or Just TiredMe...me, I want in this club. I agree with all the above! I just want to know one thing from you...what did you retire from? I know you worked from home and just have a couple of customers left but what did you do for a living?

By the way, Windy Bob is the best singer, song writer, and guitar picker I have heard in a long while. And he writes poetry and stories, too. Now, I wonder when he gets time to ride his Harley.

OK, I will try to answer that question. The short version is that I do engineering design and drafting work. But when have I ever just given a short answer?

I made up my mind to start working for myself full time back in January 1984 when the forging plant I was working at shut down and laid everyone off. I actually did a project or two during a layoff in late 1981 and early 1982.

My first full time job was at Pullman-Standard (they built railroad cars) and it lasted over 16 years. I left there for a position of as Chief Manufacturing Engineer at a company that, among other things, built the enclosed double decker automobile carrier RR cars that you may have seen.

That plant was shut down by a strike and the President of the company told me to find another job, that they were going to shut the plant down for good. I was only there for about a year and a half.

I received an offer as “project manager” from a Texas based rail-car builder, Richmond Tank Car Company, and decided to take it. Another enjoyable job, but the RR car market disappeared and I was out of work again. I was starting to get good at closing down plants (grin). That is when I took the forging die design job in Dallas.

I was getting tired of getting laid off, had to do something, so started working for myself. Slow going at first, hard to find a customer. Now, I can’t remember how I found this next customer, but it was a new forging company starting up in Texas which had a main plant in Pittsburgh.

To make a long story a little shorter (yeah right), after doing a few projects for them, they offered me the job of “manager of engineering”. I refused at first and then they talked me into it. The president said that if it would help, he would give me the title of vice president. I told him to call me the janitor and give me more money. We worked things out and I enjoyed my work there. We were going good and had a back-log, but our sister plant in Pittsburgh wouldn’t modernize and went out of business as did the corporation, which we were part of.

I again started working for myself. I saw an ad in the paper for a short term project, and thought I would give it a call. It turned out that it was not local or any where near Houston, but in North Carolina. I ended up taking that job as a contractor at G.E. Nuclear Fuel and Components, expecting it to last 3 to 6 months. I really loved that job and the people that worked there. But after three years, I had to quit and go back to Texas. Keeping up two homes and separated from family was getting to me. Sure hated to leave that job, best one I had ever had and learned a lot from it.

Went back home and tried to get my work going again. In the meantime, I took on a full time job with Smith International. Worked there for almost three years and learned a lot about the oil industry. They were bought out by Halliburton and Smith moved to Fort Worth. They wanted me to go with them, but a friend of mine who was only a few years away from retirement was not selected to go. So, I made a deal to take him instead of me. Therefore, my job came to an end there in Sept. 1993 and have been working for myself ever since and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

OK, that was the short version; do you want to hear the long version??? (grin).


  1. Pretty interesting, my friend! Guess the main thing is that you did what you enjoyed...and that's important in any job!

    Thanks for the background!

  2. I worked for Smith International on Rankin Road and hated it. As a female machinist more crap went on there than any place I had worked since the 70's.

  3. Dizzy sounds like you had a great working career. It's nice to work at what you enjoy doing,makes it seem less like work. Glad you made it working from home.Blessings jane

  4. Hermit, Yes, I was lucky at being able to do what I enjoy. The pay part was just a necessary evil.

    Frann, I wouldn’t doubt it. Yep, it was on Rankin Road. Did you say you worked there in the 70’s? It was Nov. 1990 thru Sept. 1993. The best part of working there was the recreation room with all the ping pong tables. Remember my blog on ping pong?: http://dizzydick.blogspot.com/2010/10/wondering-about-sports.html

    Jane, Yes I did enjoy it, and still do. After I went in business for myself, I got all kinds of different jobs. It was sure not boring, most every one was different. I learned a lot about different industries.

  5. The country was going through some trying times back then, and companies wef bought and sold, and many employees got hurt in the process.

  6. It is admirable what you did for your friend so he could stay with the company until his retirement even if it meant you losing your job. Only a very special kind of person would do that.