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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)

TITLE: I'll Do Anything!
By Martha Black


My husband Earl, Vice President of Data Management at a Bank in Waco, Texas, lost his job in the downturn of the economy in 1984. He was out of work for a year before he got a great job in Dallas, Texas. All went well for over two years, and then the economy downturn hit him again. Once more they were letting management positions go.

It was at this exact time that the world was going to PCs. These were vastly different from the computers Earl had known. Over night he was a dinosaur, not good for a fifty-year-old man out of work.

He worked at any and everything he could find. He said "I’ll do anything that they’ll pay me to do.” He tried selling Zemy power-drink machines, selling is not his forte, so that didn’t last long. He became a concrete inspector, which all he knew about concrete was how to walk on it.

He worked as a maintenance man at a Seminary for about two years. It became a huge joke anytime he saw a mess being made on TV or anywhere, because he’d yell “Call Maintenance.” The biggest mess he ever saw was New Year’s Eve at Times Square. “Where’s Maintenance?” Earl wanted to know.

His crowning achievement of “doing anything they’ll pay me for” was when an out-of-work friend, who had helped design the Safeway stories, was offered the job of helping clean up the empty Safeway stores. He was told he could bring a friend; that friend was my husband Earl.

Myron and Earl, tore down shelving, cleaned and moved display boxes, swept and generally did anything they could to make the building available for a buyer. One day those two fifty-year-old men had to chase and capture pigeons that had gotten into the store. That must have been a real hoot to see. The stories those guys told about their adventures, kept all our friends entertained for months.

Some rotting food had been left in the store, and they had to take it and other debris they had removed to the dump. There were gulls around the dump, and Earl called it the beach. It might have been a beach for Earl who had no sense of smell; it was not a beach for Myron.

They were told to break up a concrete sidewalk between the store and a school. They did so, and they were told to put the pieces into the Dempsey Dumpster. “Unacceptable,” they were told by someone else. So those two men crawled into the smelly dumpster and removed the larger pieces of concrete. “Still unacceptable!” they were told again. As they again crawled into the stinky dumpster, Myron said, “Earl, I think we’ve hit bottom.” But they removed everything in the dumpster, swept it, and hosed it out, laughing all the way.

One cold day as they were breaking up the concrete sidewalk, they saw a girl with no coat on get off the bus with her boyfriend. Myron, feeling sorry for the girl who must have been freezing, watched her and her boyfriend pass by. “Hope you got your eyes full, old man!” Her boyfriend snorted. Earl told Myron’s “dirty old man story” to everyone who would listen.

If you think I was embarrassed to have a husband who went from a top management position to a maintenance position, to cleaning out stores, including cleaning a Dempsey Dumpster, you’d be wrong. That was the “Good Old American Work Ethic” at its best. Earl said, “I’ll do anything they’ll pay me to do.” He meant it, and he did it.

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This article has been read 286 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 02/03/12
This was a humbling story, and it touched me deeply. Beautiful job, powerful message, and it resonated with truth throughout.

Wonderful job with this.
God Bless you~
Verna Mull 02/03/12
I am with you all the way. I would be prouder of a husband who would "do anything" to help his family survive, than to watch T.V. on unemployment. This was a great story with a great moral.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/07/12
What a beautiful tribute to your husband. I can feel the pride and love.
Dimple Suit02/08/12
Blessings come unexpectedly. Thank you for blessing me with a reminder of humble, honest work is nothing of which to be ashamed. Good Job!
Michael Throne02/09/12
God bless you. This is a great story that needs to be told and told again by people who have lived it. This is the kind of attitude that made America great. Keep writing!
C D Swanson 02/10/12
Congrats! God bless~