Wearing the Yellow Hat

As the paint fell to the floor, all I could do was resign myself to taking the punishment. There was no hiding this, the model airplane I was working on forgotten for the nasty red stain on the carpet. Though the details are fuzzy about this incident, I do not have to think too hard about how upset my parent’s were at me for spilling the paint. I will never forget the lessons. Take measures. Be prepared. I loved my models as a kid, and for the most part I did take care.  I do think I was determined to get the project right, though. I had a vision of what I wanted. I just didn’t have the skills to execute.

Boys grow older and then find new toys to play with. I should probably not be so gender specific, because I could write thousands of words describing the woman’s playground in the basement. It’s like adult vintage Barbie dress-up down there. A regular museum, vintage wonderland, where my wife finds her immense happiness. And talk about organized, she by far puts me to shame, albeit that’s not really too hard to do.

My toys have wings and wheels. Always have, I suppose. Apparently at a very early age as soon as someone gave me something drivable, I drove it. I was shifting and sitting on my father’s lap driving at age seven or eight. Please don’t arrest him, I am sure the statute of limitations for having a child drive a beat up red hatch back has been done and dusted for some time now. Point is, my hobbies, likes, or the small things that bring me a lot of peaceful joy, they have not really changed. Except now the projects are a lot larger, can be quite a bit more expensive, and require new skills that have to be learned.

Not all that long ago, I told one of the bosses at work – to which there are many – that the only people I trusted were those that wore the yellow hard hats. These are the men and women that have skills. They are the mechanics, electricians, computer programmers, and sometimes all of the above. Their job is to keep the equipment working in some of the worst environments – cold, wet, often sprayed with harsh cleaning chemicals – worked to the point of failure. And in a manufacturing plant, the balance of preventive maintenance schedules and operations are constantly in conflict. So the hero’s who wear the yellow hats come calling when the machine goes down, given mere seconds to diagnose and cure. These folks have amazing talent and skill to which I am constantly in awe.

In recent year’s, work has been a new training ground for me, teaching me out of necessity. As a manager, a thinker, I am supposed to be the one that sees the vision and teaches others. But with new plants, new people, and new equipment that no one has ever used before, you are also forced to wear a yellow hat at times. Perhaps, to my bosses dismay, I wear one too often. However, it has gotten me a new nickname at work – MacGyver. It’s actually the first work nickname that I am proud to wear. The others are not worth mentioning right now.

Combine this with my boyhood hobbies of cars and airplanes, of which I choose to drive and fly vehicles that are of my Father and Grandfather’s generation, and suddenly you have the mixture to get into a whole new kind of trouble. Last fall I was taking some items from my garage to the hangar only to end up having a fuel leak from the carburetor of the fifty-two truck. With some tweaks and special goo, I got the truck home without a fire. That brought on a three month project that finished in the dead of winter, the truck having an upgraded fuel and exhaust system. All work that I completed on my own, a task I would never have undertaken five years ago.

Now, I am not technically allowed to touch the airplane too much, but I dare say I often know what’s wrong before the mechanic does. As for the truck, no one can tell me what to do or not to do here. And therefore I have decided to make it want I want. It won’t be a show truck. It will work, haul, or just cruise. But it won’t be “O-Sage Green” any longer. New tools purchased, the old 52 Chevy is having a makeover. There will be sweat and dirt and many foul words exchanged as I dawn my yellow hard hat once again.

Oh, by the way wifey, we need a new shower sponge. The one we have is kind of black now.


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