Friday, March 24, 2006
The day the Dr. came late.
Today I was waiting to start a gastroscopy on a 76 year old fellow. Since the Dr. was late I had a minute to actually talk with the guy. He had tough looking hands, the kind with grime tattooed deep beneath the surface. He had a fine Italian name and the look of a nor-easter so I asked if he was from New York. I was slightly off, about 10 miles. He was originally from Erie, Pa. He moved here in the early sixties. He told me that just yesterday his boss asked him how long he thought he would like to keep working. He said he would like to keep working because if he stopped he would probably die. He's a machinist at a local shop that makes gears. He likes his job because he is left alone with his lathe and enjoys his work. We discussed the difference between men and women when it comes to work. He talked about how when he had his 10 children the wife didn't have all the labor saving devices they have now. How much harder it was then when there were always at least two children in cloth diapers. He remembers how North Carolina used to be, and when his real estate taxes were $ 100 a year. He didn't sugar coat everything though. He remarked that the wages are about half what they are in the North. He said he hoped his exam didn't show any cancer because now he was working for his fourteen grandchildren. It was such a refreshing change from the usual North Carolina senior citizen; driving around in his Lexus looking to get a senior discount on a movie matinee which is already half price. It seems funny that today I heard how G.M. is buying out thousands of workers. Really they're just paying them to go away without a fuss. It's being hailed as a milestone in business and employee relations. I just don't see it. So I was happy to spend about twenty minutes talking with this gem from America's past. Maybe he didn't know what his golf handicap was, or how his mutual funds were doing this minute but he knew what an "automatic screw machine" was. From six feet away his hands told the story.