The Sweet Smell of Success? Or Just Fumes

 by Alan Kandel
It has been said, without the bad, the good cannot be appreciated.
Life’s journey for nearly all, I would say, is anything but straight. How we proceed in such is all predicated upon the choices we make or those others have made for us. We make good decisions, we make bad. When good decisions are made, we derive a sense of satisfaction from such. When bad decisions are made, watch out! We cringe, bristle at the thought, protest, sometimes vehemently. Once getting beyond any one of these or a combination thereof, we either dwell on the regrettable or we get over it, maybe some of both, vow not to do such again, and move on, forward, hopefully.
Soon after I graduated from college in 1976, as I mentioned in my first post, I was in search of a career. This was a trying time; a period of much trial and error, a period in which the waters were thoroughly tested. In one interview, I was instructed to take a qualifying test. Since it was in the field of electronics the test involved analyzing circuit diagrams and determining such things as voltage, current, resistance and so on and so forth. Well, I have absolutely no qualms in admitting I scored a 40 percent. The gentleman interviewing me seemed so disappointed that I scored so poorly that before I had even made my way out of the building, I was practically being scolded. You see, he knew one of my college instructors, and apparently the interviewer had high expectations. By scoring what I did, I can only guess for the man doing the hiring it was a big let-down.
The good – and bad – news is that I eventually did find a job, but it only lasted a year. I was appropriately placed in the test and troubleshooting department, and with a total of six technicians, one of which was the supervisor, all but two of us smoked. For the record, I am one of the ones who didn’t.
At first, work was tolerable. Then as smoking became more frequent with more smoke filling the indoor air and therefore for me more unbearable, I asked one of the head honchos if I could have my workbench relocated to an area where the smoke was far less noticeable. The place I suggested that my workbench be relocated to, there was plenty of room, but, not surprisingly, my request was curtly denied.
Meanwhile, it just so happens that during this time I practiced martial arts and, believe it or not, but there would be more fumes to deal with, although they were from an entirely different source. Like at work, it wasn’t a case of smoke just getting in my eyes. It went way past even that. An irritant if not an outright nuisance would be more like it.
Practice was held in a steel-framed building with exterior edifices consisting of corrugated, galvanized-but-painted-steel panels and for interior walls, drywall. At any rate, the building housed two businesses – a dojo and a shop for repairing automobiles. It is not too difficult to imagine the implications here, so I’ll leave it at that.
And speaking of cars and as if to be adding injury to insult, the car I was driving had much to be desired. It was a used car I bought in place of the one I’d been driving, for that one was in an accident, not my fault but that makes little difference. It turns out the replacement set of wheels I purchased had a small break or hole somewhere in the filler neck that led straight into the gas tank and when driving up hill especially, with a full tank of gas, well, in any case, if you haven’t guessed by now, even if I never glanced at the fuel gauge, I was fast reminded of such. In fact, gas fumes could be detected in the car’s cab even with windows closed. When it rains, it pours, I guess.
At any rate, that vehicle became a good candidate on a new one as a trade-in, something I should have done the first time around. Live and learn.
The dojo eventually relocated to another building, one that was more conducive to training and as for the job, well, with much intestinal fortitude and who knows what else I had managed to summon, I approached the department super and exclaimed, “I’m done,” to which came his reply, “In that case, go get another [waveform analyzer to start work on].” Apparently not getting my drift (pun intended, of course), I reiterated, “You don’t understand, I’m done.” End of story.
Copyright Alan Kandel. October 15, 2012.

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