Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Andy, you need to think about the next guy."

Naw, it wasn't Sadie that said that to me.  Heck, she's only about 7 years old (In human years), and doesn't have nearly enough wisdom or junk to say that to me.  Truth is, I just haven't showed y'all a picture of Sadie in a while, and figured I would.

You're welcome!!!

No, it was my Daddy that said those words to me over 35 years ago.  Those of y'all that know me personally, and some of you that know me "virtually,"  know that I was raised up around a Mom & Pop Appliance & Television Store.

From the time I was big enough to push a broom I was set to work at "The Store."  It was good, too.  I learned a bunch of junk,  was taught that nothing is for free, and met a lot of wonderful folks that shaped my life. 

I started helping Mr. George Dupree install window unit air conditioners when I was 11, but I was about 15 years old when I REALLY went to work at "The Store."  I worked after school, and on weekends.

I was learning the family business.  It was a really good business, too.  (I'd better quit running on with memories, or I'll never get this post finished).

But most importantly, that's where I really met my Daddy.  Not many young fellows really get to meet their Daddy like I did...I mean, at home, at work, etc.

One afternoon when I was about 16, a man brought his Whirlpool Washing Machine to "The Store."  It would not go in to the "spin" cycle.  Well, I knew exactly what was wrong.  The "wig-wag" solenoid was bad.  That was almost always what was wrong when a Whirlpool Washing Machine would not go in to the "spin" cycle.

Now, "wig-wag" seems like an odd name to call a Washing Machine part...but, that's really what the good folks at Whirlpool called it.  The reason they called it that is because it "wig-wagged."  It really did.

It sat down there in the bottom of the clothes washer, and just wig-wagged back and forth.  It had two solenoids on it, and when it came time for the Washing Machine to kick into high gear, one of the two solenoids would pick up and the belt would engage for high speed, and the clothes would get spun correctly.  

It was a pretty bitchin' concept!  Fortunately, The Whirlpool Corporation came up with a better design since then, because them damn wig-wag deals sucked.

Just sayin'...

Anyway, I was learning about replacing the damnable part.  I was laying back flat on the tile floor, covered with grease, and doing my best.  I got the damnable solenoid structure put up in place...lock nut locked down...C-clamp put back on...two belts firmly put back in place...

But, there was this wire.  There was this wire that had burned off of the old wig-wag.  It was all burnt up on the end, and had to be connected to the NEW wig-wag that I had spent most of an afternoon learning to replace.  All the other 3 wires that connected to the damnable thing had wire connectors on them that just hooked back up.

No problem.

But, there was this ONE wire that was burned up, and had NO connector to plug back on to the wig-wag solenoid.  So...

I was sick and tired of junk...pulled out my knife, trimmed the old burned insulation off of the wire...twiddled the wire down as fine as I could...stuck it through a little hole in the terminal of the solenoid...wrapped it about 4 times, and went for my electrical tape to seal the deal.

My beloved Daddy was watching the whole time.  I know that he was proud that I'd learned the mechanics of the whole mess.  But, he KNEW that I was about to screw up.

He said to me,  "Andy, you need to think about the next guy."  

I said, "What?"  

He said, "If you don't put a new connector on that wire, and cinch it down tight, that wire is going to burn off at the terminal again pretty soon."

As luck (bad luck) would have it, I was nowhere near the little case that had the connectors.  And, I really didn't care to drag my fat self out from under the machine...make my way to the box with the connectors...and get it done correctly.  

So, I popped off to Daddy something like, "This'll hold okay.!  It'll last as long as this old washer will."

That's when Daddy explained  "Andy, you need to think about the next guy." 

He told me that pretty soon that connection was going to go bad.  And when it did, the gentleman that had brought his Whirlpool Washing Machine in for service would take it somewhere else to be repaired.  And, that the "next guy" was going to just laugh and laugh about what a poor job that the "last guy" had done.  And, he told me that the new wig-wag solenoid would be unusable, because one of the terminals would be burned up, and even if the "next guy" could fix the burned wire right, he'd have nothing to plug the connector on to.

So, I dragged my big old lazy rear off the floor...went and got a wire connector...cinched it down tight...and connected it to the "wig-wag."

What Daddy told me made sense.  

I didn't want "the next guy" to laugh at my poor job.  And, I didn't want to cause "the next guy," or our customer any more aggravation, or expense.

It's kind of like that book about everything you ever needed to know you learned in Kindergarten.  If memory serves, one of those things was "If you make a mess, clean it up."  Something like that...

That's where we are right now as a nation.  Expedience has replaced excellence.

Seems that nobody in DC that has been there for very long gives a rats hiney about "the next guy."  And, it has been that way for a long, long time.

Sad thing is, "the next guy" is not laughing at the piss-poor job that the "last guy" did.

There's nothing funny about it.


  1. Great story and good point!

  2. I'll have to remember that "wig-wag" mechanism next time I can't get a washer to go into spin cycle.

    And, sadly enough, nobody today cares about the next guy. Because as far as everyone's concerned, it'll be his problem, not ours.

  3. Damn good story, Andy. The boys in DC forgot about the "next guy" a long time ago. They're all into themselves and always choose the expedient route not the one best for the country.

    BTW. My wag wagged out years ago and I could use a wig; or was that the other way around?

  4. Such a Great Post! I enjoyed reading it. Thank You and I agree with all the other comments too.

  5. There's nothing funny about it.

    There's my understatement for the day.

    I'll echo the others: great story.

  6. Hey, thanks, y'all.

    I swear, my Daddy learned me so many lessons. I did not realize at the time how important the concepts of those lessons were.

    I figured it out later on.

    Unfortunately, I have not ALWAYS taken them to heart...always to my own detriment.

    He's my hero.

  7. Good story, Andy. Made my day! The part about your Dad, not the DC part. That part, as usual, pissed me off. In my business, I see a lot of "me, me, me" and "right now!" Don't worry about later! Get's frustrating sometimes, but little gems like your Dad's story helps! Keep it up! Have a great week!

  8. What an artfully crafted story -- lessons learned, irreplaceable memories, how badly-on-so-many-levels DC sucks.

    Really nice story (and allegory) -- made me smile when I fell into my own memories of working in my parents' store weekends and summers (didn't have any way to get there after school). That helped me, more than probably any other growing-up experience, learn how to deal with people, both pleasant and not so. I isisted that all our children have at least some experience in retail (and food service!). Today, they're already grateful for having done it.


Don't cuss nobody out, okay?