How Very Lucky I Am

18 Apr


When I was eighteen, the summer before my freshman year in college, I got a great job at a fruit & produce warehouse.  The job paid $10 per hour and, please note, this was in 1966…that was great money back then and, in fact, it was more money than my dad was making at his job.

Anyway, my job consisted of unloading boxcars of produce, loading trucks, bagging potatoes for grocery stores, putting orders together . . . it was hard, physical work, but I was in good shape and like I said, the money was superb.

I came home from work one hot summer day and I was complaining because I was asked, at work, to sort through a particularly nasty load of potatoes and sort out the rotten ones.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a rotten potato before, especially one that has sat in a hot boxcar for a few days, but trust me when I tell you the smell will gag you.  So I was not a happy boy when I sat down at dinner and commenced to complain to my parents.

That complaining went over about as well as farting in church.

My dad, who left high school his sophomore year to ride the rails looking for work during the Great Depression, was not impressed with my complaining.  In fact, he hit the roof!  He informed me, in rather colorful language, that I was getting paid damned good money, money many people would gladly take, and it was honest work and I should shut up and do what was asked of me, and I should do it well, the best I could, and I’m sure he went on telling me that people were dying of starvation around the world, and single mothers worked three jobs to feed their kids, and, well, you get the point.  It was not a pleasant meal!

But the lesson was learned!

It’s been fifty years since I had that lesson force-fed to me over dinner, and I haven’t forgotten it.  I do my jobs without complaining.  Every job is important.  I am grateful for the jobs I have. Thank you, Dad!


“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” Jack Canfield

Here’s the thing:  comparatively speaking, in a world with over seven billion people, there is but a handful of people who can do what we do, and do it well.  I am lucky to be a writer.  I make a living doing something I love doing.  I make a living out of creating stories which entertain people.  I am paid money to touch the hearts and souls of people.

That is an important job and I never want to consider it anything less.

What I do is incredibly important, and what you do is important, and we really need to be thankful and do the best damned job we can.

End of sermon!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

34 Responses to “How Very Lucky I Am”

  1. Janine Huldie April 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Love this Bill and reminds me of my mom telling me as a kid that I needed to learn from my mistakes to repeat them again. Still, our parents surely taught us some fine lessons along the way. Thanks for the reminder. Happy Tuesday now!! 🙂

    • Billybuc April 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

      They sure did, Janine, lessons I have never forgotten. I have no doubt you learned the same lessons. It shows in how you live your life.

      Thank you and Happy Rainy Tuesday to you!

  2. Sarah Potter Writes April 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

    Yes, Bill, you and I are very lucky and privileged to have the freedom to do our writing, not that I can say that I earn a living out of it, but I’m hoping to do so one day.

    I would probably have grumbled too about those rotten potatoes, just as in the late 1960s, I grumbled about clearing out dog kennels in mid-winter during rain, sleet, or snow. That being said, I only earned £3 per week, plus my keep. If I’d earned $10 per hour, I might not have grumbled, but who knows? We all grumble from time to time, unless we’re saints, but it’s good to have someone tell us off and put things into perspective.

    • Billybuc April 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

      It’s all perspective, isn’t it, Sarah? I would have probably grumbled about the dog kennel job as well….Three pounds per week? Really, that’s about what I was worth as a new worker….LOL…I was just a snot-nosed kid who thought he knew it all. Boy oh boy, did I ever find out that wasn’t true.

      Hopefully I’m a bit wiser now, my friend.

      Thank you on this rainy Tuesday!

      • Sarah Potter Writes April 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

        We’re sunny Tuesday, although with an icy easterly wind that’s threatening frost tonight.

      • Billybuc April 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

        Stay warm, my friend! A warm spring is bound to arrive soon, or so I hope.

  3. marcoujor April 18, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    Your Dad sounds a lot like mine, Bill – hard working and great values.

    Love this and you too, Maria

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

      Thank you Maria, and love to you as well.

  4. denisewa58 April 18, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    You are right, Bill, we do a very important job! I haven’t been writing as much lately, as I had to give up my “day job” when my relationship with my boss went south. I have been substitute teaching in the schools lately, and just haven’t had the time to write. Now, I realize that I need to make the time. It is just too important to let it go!

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

      I’m so happy to hear that, Denise. Yes, go write…what you have to say is vitally important.

  5. Michael Milec April 19, 2017 at 1:57 am #

    Indeed. Much better than average “sermon”. Your teaching /learning lesson my friend is phenomenal,- The rotten potatoes do stink awfully from a far distance, least to say. However, the application for a daily succes “do your best what ever you do”- your dad was perfectly right as if Jesus would say.
    (end od sermon)

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

      Oh, Michael my friend, I have no doubt you understand the lesson my father taught me so long ago. Hard work pays dividends and builds character. I will always believe that.

  6. Sageleaf April 19, 2017 at 2:02 am #

    Read this while munching lunch but only now have a chance to comment…but this is great. It left me pondering about…well…what I complain about. I do complain about my job to husby. Not all the time, not every day, just on bad days. But now, you’ve got me thinking that perhaps that’s not even a good idea. In fact, have you seen the article about an apple sliced 4 ways, and for one month, this scientist talked nicely to one slice, complained to another, ignored the third one, and was “mean” to the fourth piece. At the end of the month, the “good” slice looked like yummy dried fruit, but the three other pieces had rotted and molded. There is energy in what we say and it really can change how we feel. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. 🙂

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

      Fascinating, Lil Sis, about that apple. My goodness! I do believe in energy, and I don’t believe we are even close to fully understanding it. Anyway, great story…thank you my friend, and hugs from Olympia.

  7. Lawrence Hebb April 19, 2017 at 11:41 am #

    When I left the Army, the first job i got was hauling fruit and veg to market.
    One job I had was delivering ten tons of rotten potatoes to a potato chip factory, I was doing fifty miles an hour most of the way, and they still stunk the cab out!
    After that run, it was months before I could face another potato chip, but I never complained about another job!
    Your Dad’s lesson was a great one.

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

      Lawrence, great anecdote about rotten potatoes. They are simply horrible…but at $10 per hour, I managed to get used to the smell. LOL

  8. Christy B April 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    No complaining.. Your father instilled great values in you, dear friend xx

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

      He did for sure, Christy! I can’t say I was too happy about some of the lessons, but they stuck with me. 🙂

  9. 1authorcygnetbrown April 19, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    A friend of mine refers to what most of us in the US complain about as “first world” problems which aren’t really problems at all. If we have honest work, transportation to get us to work, a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food on our table, we have more than 80% of the world’s population.

    • Billybuc April 19, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

      True words, Donna! I’ve never had it so good and yet give me five minutes and I can find something to complain about. LOL

      • 1authorcygnetbrown April 20, 2017 at 11:10 am #

        A lot of times the only thing we can change is our attitude!

      • Billybuc April 20, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

        For sure, Donna, a lesson that took me years to understand and live.

  10. rollyachabotbooks April 20, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

    Hi Bill… I have often reflected just how lucky and blessed I was to be put with the parents I had plus be born in the place I was. Just think how different life would have been if it had been elsewhere…

    Hugs from Alberta

    • Billybuc April 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

      All true, Rolly! I won the lifestyle lottery when I was adopted by my parents and allowed to grow with a solid foundation.

      Thanks, buddy, and hugs from Olympia.

  11. Kristi Campbell April 22, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    Wow, your dad reminds me of mine. I remember when we moved to a larger house from our tiny house, and I asked if we were rich. He had me dig in the dirt and look at the trees for HOURS telling me what’s important. I started working (babysitting) at 11, and then caddying at 15, and have worked since. I try to teach my son this as well, although it feels harder now, not being able to say what we went without, as I haven’t really gone without much…

    • Billybuc April 22, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts, Kristi! I think our dads were from another era that is slowly losing its influence on society. I, for one, find that sad. Hopefully we’ll all work towards bringing it back.

  12. ericdierker April 22, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    A fine sermon indeed my friend. What funny people we are when we need to escape or complain about the life we have. I was just complaining about the heat as we prepare the ground for our garden.
    Thanks much

    • Billybuc April 23, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      Thanks so much, Eric! I’ve been doing a fair amount of cussing over the weather myself. It is a gardener’s prerogative, isn’t it? 🙂

  13. Dee April 25, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Hey Bill, thanks for setting me straight on what work is all about. Be grateful for what you have, I say.

    • Billybuc April 25, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

      Dee, I suspect you didn’t need this lesson at all, but you are very welcome. Thank you!

  14. phoenix2327 April 27, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    I believe becoming a writer was predestined. I’ve been writing all my life but didn’t know it. I was writing stories before I learned how to read and write. I would ‘write’ by drawing my stories. I loved putting pencil to paper drawing pictures to tell the story. Once I learned my ABCs, it seemed natural to keep a diary. I abandoned that after a week when my mother found it, read it and shouted at me for expressing thoughts she found objectionable. But I still kept writing. I was probably the only one in my class who didn’t mind doing essays because it gave me a chance to write to the brief but still express myself.

    While in the Air Force, I was being trained in the electronics career field (zzzzz). At the end of the lesson, we were assigned tasks so the room would be ready for the next class. The instructor, a Staff Sergeant assigned an Airman to empty the trash. The boy objected, preferring to do something else. As you can imagine the Sergeant was less than impressed. He insisted, shall we say. and the boy emptied the bins, grumbling under his breath the whole time. Believe it or not, the playlet was acted out for three days running. On the fourth day, the boy began emptying the bins without being asked. Afterward, the Sergeant told him he didn’t have to do trash anymore. By doing his job and doing it well without direction or complaint, he had shown initiative and responsibility and could be trusted to do what was necessary.

    That day I not only learned the importance of a job well done but also how to gain the trust and confidence of your peers and superiors.

    Hope you have a great day, Bill.

    • Billybuc April 27, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

      Great story, Zulma! I love the lesson learned. I’ve learned similar lessons, in similar ways, many times, and did my share of grumbling as well…but I did learn, and that’s what’s important.

      I don’t remember writing that much when I was young. It really started for me in college..I wrote on the school newspaper, and caught the bug. The rest, as they say, is history. 🙂

  15. Shauna L Bowling May 23, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

    $10 an hour in 1966?! Holy Crap! There are a lot of today’s high school kids who don’t make that much. You were rolling in the dough, man!

    I had to laugh at your farting in church comment, Bill. Major no-no, huh? Shoot, when I was growing up we weren’t even allowed to say “fart”, let alone do it anywhere but in the privacy of the bathroom! (As if they can be planned, right?)

    Great post, Bill. Your blog has really blossomed.

    • Billybuc May 23, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

      Sha, I remember it really affected my dad, when I got that warehouse job…I was making more than he was for God’s sake. Kind of hurt his pride.

      Thank you! This is the kind of writing I like to do, like a conversation between friends.

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