When I was just weeks shy of three years old, I was hanging around the house with my mom doing the stuff that toddlers do, I guess. It was mid-morning on a warm spring day and I was bored and tired of playing with whatever age acceptable toys had been placed in front of me. My mom must have been focused on my sisters at the time – one was older and the other younger than I – because she didn’t notice at first that I’d made an all-important decision to find something else to do. I’d always preferred to be with my dad and that day was no different. Dads always did the cool stuff and I wanted to do cool stuff with my dad instead of the usual toddler stuff. I knew he was at work and lucky for me, his work was right next door. So I decided I was going to go to work.
I had a plan! Escape the house, cross the yard, climb under the fence, run across the parking lot without getting run over by a truck, go inside the dairy plant, and find my dad. Easy peasy!
My dad worked at a locally owned and managed dairy where they processed milk, made ice cream, and who knows what else – I was only three, I didn’t know everything! But, I did know that in that big concrete building there were huge machines and ice cream and Dad. I could see from our yard that the giant truck-sized garage doors were open – I was tiny so everything was giant! I slid under the wood-slatted farm fence that surrounded the yard – it was hardly capable of keeping anyone in or out, unless you were the size of livestock. I ran my shirtless self, barefooted across the asphalt and sneaked past the parked trucks that were loading and set out to find my dad. Unfortunately, my tiny legs wouldn’t carry me fast enough to go undetected and I was swooped up by Russ, the owner of the dairy. We shared the same birthday and he was my buddy. I knew I wasn’t in trouble – at least not yet. Russ called my mom to tell her where I was, but not before he took me to see my dad and share some ice cream.
I imagine I was only actually there for a short while, but for a kid it seemed like forever. I got to be at work with my dad and “help” him work. I watched my dad work many times and in different jobs while growing up. Sometimes I was at work with him or assisted while he did projects around the house. It seemed that the more brothers and sisters I got; the more Dad worked. I wanted to be just like him and work all day and come home to sit for a minute, sleep, wake to a cup of coffee, then do it all over again. My work ethic came from my father. He didn’t retire until recently – in his late 70s – and is still very active with his projects and enjoying life. My plan has always been the same as his – to stay as busy with work for as long as I can. I have always said that I don’t plan to retire. We will see how that’s going to play out; but even as I was certain as a kid that when it came to work I was definitely my father’s son, I still am.