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Returning to my first love - part 6: It ain't always fun being high.

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

There you go again Wix... 'Catchy titles' are just like a sign's primary copy, intended to entice you to view the rest. Hmmm, is that guidance or trickery? I suppose it depends on what side of the lab we're standing on, but it's all a double-edged sword anyway. But if you're here, see it worked!


So what was it that made me decide to switch to a different but adjoining track in my career on the sign industry train?


Being high of course!

This photo isn't me but the it's closest I could find of similar height in the 60-70'ish range (from memory). In the late 80's LTV Steel hired us to paint two 20' high circular orange logos on a tall white corrugated building about 65-70' in the air, and I had to lay them out by hand since a pattern was impossible at that size for only me and only one helper. (in a single platform!) On top of that one of the sides faced south, where you got the sun on your back and equally strong reflection on the front along with sun-blindness and the evening long headache you'd most certainly enjoy regardless of your sunglasses. Can't remember if it was 3 or 4 days of that, but it was enough. It was far harder on my body than I expected and if in my 20's then how bad would it be in my 50's?


Those logos are long gone now and to my surprise never been able to find a photo online even with the almighty Google... Anyway, it doesn't matter if it's only 10' in the air it's scary as hell if you don't like heights on a balancing pencil! But flying... no problem. Even worse, doing things in inclement weather especially NW Indiana where we can get the worst of all worlds... and all the wonderful mysteries of nature that nest right next to where you need to work. (Like my epic Bethlehem Steel front sign wasp battle!) I don't consider myself a sign installer at all because I've not done that many although often ended up on several 'fun' ones... I have the utmost respect and admiration for sign installers everywhere. These are brave and tough people and they make it look far easier than it is. Some of the most essential of all!


So that's one the main reasons I shifted over in the industry career, but Chuck and Gail (from previous post) planted a seed deeply in my mind and I knew I would always return to simply making signs in my little shop at retirement if not before given the opportunity. It also showed me that teamwork and having the same end-game in life are essential to succeed in any partnership. Note from then future self: being young and naive however, it took multiple beta tests for that to sink in. Another reason for the shift was financial requirements with a growing family as I was determined to not have both parents needing to work and was already having to be ultra-conservative financially to make ends meet. Also at that time the PC (personal computer) market was already exploding and technical integration was in full pioneer mode and fun! Since being introduced to some of the first PC's it became an intense hobby, and being far ahead in skills compared to my peers it allowed me to create a lot of opportunities to show what I could do with them while inside on the ground!!!


Having already experienced enough human nature to know that when people know you can do something rather difficult they give it to you to do, and often only you. Like the old saying, "If you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person you know". So soon with all that practice I become more 'essential' and was in a better negotiating position, having actual real-world results to back them up in order to provide for the family. That policy will remain forever with me since it's God's and has been 100% successful.


(Pet peeve rant: employers care more more about the ability to get things done than an academic pedigree (outside of applied sciences of course) - unfortunately many have corrupt deals to keep these obsolete schools in their lucrative business - and make a degree a requirement for the higher paying jobs no matter how stupid it is. We often end up bypassing the most qualified and effective candidates and end up with ineffective micro-managers who's ROI is never and whose subordinates all hate them instead of investing in a military veteran team leader who organized an entire operation rescuing or saving lives. This is a gross injustice in my opinion.)


So to end this part, I began focusing on the computer aspects of sign-making - actually programmed the old Gerber 4B to make stars!!! Then there was no computer monitor, just a row old led digits like a calculator so that was a big deal! ha Computers were a brand new world ripe for creating new kinds of unheard of stuff. Soon the adventures began! That's the subject of the next part.


So until next time,


Be honorable, seek quiescence, examine your intents, love.











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