Sunday, August 14, 2011


Gregory V. Boulware
How many hats have you worn? To be precise, how many hats have you had to wear, been forced to wear, or chose to wear? One might wonder…”does he mean how many hats have we worn individualy…or all at once?”

I mean…whenever.

Chapeau is often used as a generic expression of approval and appreciation in France and other parts of Europe; as a sign of admiration or respect, one shall indeed remove his hat. In the Anglophone heraldries, a chapeau or cap of maintenance is a specific kind of hat. It occurs as a charge, but also more importantly as an exterior ornament, signifying rank.

As you may well be aware, in today’s economical scheme of things, working heads of households need to wear multiple chapeaus. When Mom is out – in all probabilty working – of the house, Dad kinda kicks in or replaces the Designated Primary Household Technician. Better described as the co-head of household (for many of us who happen to be men). If your lucky, Dad can cook and clean stuff, change the baby, clean the bathroom, help with the homework, keep Fido out of the trashcans and flowerbeds, and send buddiespalshomies and girlfriends packing due to visiting (hangin-out time) hours are over. If Dad can’t command all or some of those non-desireable responsibilities (although some Dads like to do these types of things), then you’re in a s…load of trouble or it’s party-time for the kids and their playmates!

Running a household is a daunting if not frightening task, especially if infants to teen-age children are in the mix, yes? And let us not forget Fido…the cat, the fish, the parrot and the parrotkeet, plants and yardcare with garden up-keep, the leaky roof, running errands, doctor visits, and grocery runs aren’t enough to warrant the “Mutltiple Hat Award”…then, I don’t know Jack!

What about multiple head gear worn outside of the home? How many jobs have you had or held in a lifetime…through or during your employment (employee or self-employment) career? Many employment analysts agree, being employed in more than two jobs in ten years is self-destructive to ones chances in the job market. I, however, believe differently…

Throughout my working life (I’m sure many others have also experienced this) I have had to wear many different career-based hats. Early in my life (the 1960’s – 1980’s) the jobs were plentiful. There were many opportunities available in the labor market – as long as you didn’t mind working in a dank-dark-and-musty ole warehouse, factory, ditch, or on a road-gang. The laying of hot asphalt on a desolate (or not so desolate) street, road, or highway in the middle or the day with the Sun cooking everything inside and out left a lot to be desired. The pay was pretty good and many considered it to be a good respectable way to earn a living. Waiting tables had its benefits and challenges too. Ditch digging, paid good and provided many hats, shoes, and coats, which covered the little ones whose warmed and smiling faces warmed your insides knowing that you did well. The cleaning business was booming…if you could push a broom, sling a mop, wash a window, and/or run a buffing machine – you had a job. The factory worker seemed (some folks held several jobs at the same time – different shifts of course) happy during this particular epoch. Any…if not all of the aforementioned positions (professions) of employment, were walk-ins – walk-ons – somebody knew your uncle – knows you - somebody knew you or of you – your mom or dad sent you – Uncle Louie told you to show up for work tomorrow – the guy who owns the corner store told you to come in – the high school counselor signed you up for “On The Job Training!” All of them had and were “On The Job Training” positions! Where in the hell did they all go? Today you have to have a college education in order to work in the fast food industry…even if you have icons or cute little pictures to select from on the cash register keys.

Corporate America wants you to be able to hit the ground running - or have pre-knowledge of how to do things while they manipulate and control your life (private as well as business) and pay you next to nothing. Smiling all the way to the bank, they move their businesses out of the country and make huge profits on the backs of foreign (making about ninety percent on the dollar – ten percent to the poorest workers found) workers. 

Remember the guy who (or gal) who knew just about everything? You laughed at him (or her) while sitting in the classroom adorned with multiple aged students from diverse backgrounds. A classroom topic addressing career leadership and positions exploded across and around the room. One student talked about his career in shipping and receiving. The knowledgeable and experienced student added to the conversation, “I’ve done that!” Another student describes her role in merchandise marketing. She explained the chapeau she’d worn while pulling and fulfilling orders placed by clients and customers alike. The item(s) had to be requested from the warehouse and pulled by warehouse personnel who in turn, had to pick and pull the merchandise from all sorts of locations, shelves that are high and low. Many of the goods were selected for processing prior to shipping. Computer generated processing was implemented courtesy (and sometimes not so courteously) of the labor force/staff within the warehouse. Many orders consisted of large and very heavy boxes or containers, which had to be pulled from ceiling high shelves. The ceilings could reach upwards of twenty-five feet from the floor. Ladders and other landing or climbing equipment was needed to reach the stuff stored high up. This practice is implemented in many warehouse and storage facilities. This type of work environment requires the use of forklifts to handle and pull stock merchandise that is extremely oversized. The dangerous life-threatening operation requires trained and certified personnel to operate the equipment safely, proficiently, injury, and error free. The knowledgeable and experienced student added to the discussion, “I’ve done that!”

Several other students told of their jobs in administration, residential treatment facilities, hotels, department stores, newspaper delivery, door-to-door peddling, fast-food restaurants, night-clubs, uniform and garment laundries, public telephone cleaning, office cleaning, rest-room cleaning, grounds keeping, security, stamp and envelope licking, car washing and detail services, delivery services, the computer and communication technology industry, and yes…several facets of the transportation industry. The knowledgeable and experienced student again added to the discussion, “I’ve done that too!” The classroom instructor/teacher interjected, “Now…we know you’ve done a lot of things – so you say.” The teacher placed his right hand on the shoulder of the knowledgeable and experienced student in a condescending gesture of “yeah, sure you have – now shut up” when the question of rails came into play. The question was part of the text in the chapter of study relating to mercantile and meat transportation. The teacher asked, “Does anyone know what rails are and what they are used for?” No one knew what rails were; let alone what they are used for. No one spoke a word. The silence was like the echoes of a mausoleum…the silence of the morgue. A pen dropped. It broke the quietness… The noise filled the room for less than half a second, seemed like an hour, caused them to eyeball one another. Hesitantly, the knowledgeable and experienced student spoke up once again. “I know what the rails are used for.” The instructor rolled his eyes as if thinking aloud…”Oh no, here we go again – this f*$%#*# guy knows everything – when will he shut up – I bet he don’t know shit!” The other students smiled when they all agreed with his facial expression. Some of them laughed aloud. The instructor went on to say, “All right, go on and tell us what rails in the mercantile and meat packing industry utilize rails for…!”

The knowledgeable and experienced student, outwardly annoyed at the indifference of the teacher and his fellow students, paused in his explanation. The experienced student wondered why the teacher, who shared an age and gender comradery with him, showed such distain for his contributions to the discussion? He shrugged off the negativity, thought to himself if I’ve reached just one of these people in my communication, I’ll have made my point; proudly stood and faced them (one and all) with a boisterous posture, and said, “Within the factory, warehousing, transportation and trucking industry, various tools of the trade(s) are utilized in moving bulk, hanging, and heavy goods. When the truck(s) back into the docking platform, workers have to be able to move and off-load the goods quickly, efficiently, and safely from the truck, train, plane, or ship, into the building or plant. The dockworkers engage these rods and rails made of steel with attached pulleys and/or wheels of sorts, into the cargo area of the vehicle, right next to or close to the merchandise. The goods are then hung or hooked onto the carrier and pushed/glided into the plant docking and storage area for reception, processing, and manipulation. These rails are oft-times found throughout many warehouse and factory operations. This way of moving items such as machine and automobile parts has proven a safe and highly, cost-effective, efficient procedure for moving bulk and overweight items to and from various locations.

Mercantile goods (clothing) are often moved via hangers while meats are hooked onto these fast and constantly moving conveyors. Can you imagine how long it would take to unload and carry hundreds upon thousands of dresses from two or three sixty-five foot tractor-trailers? What about a side of beef weighing three quarters to a ton in weight? Could you carry such a load hooked or strapped to your back? “In short, sir…the rails connect one to another from the building/plant into the truck for the easy off-loading of delivered goods to the processing and storage areas of the business.”

The classroom full of wide-eyed individuals sat awe-struck. Not one of them knew the answer to the question – due to lack of knowledge and experience. The teacher confessed his lack of knowledge on the subject – he didn’t know either. His life was spent in the military. It’s been said (as he so often referred) that he was a staff sergeant or autocratic authoritarian of sorts…it carried over into his style of teaching.

He asked the knowledgeable and experienced student, “Is there any job you haven’t done?” I replied, “Not many.”

“…So much for different hats for different jobs.”

Til Next time…

Wikipedia – “A chapeau or cap of maintenance”
Proof Read by Virginia M. Boulware, R.N.
And Forty Plus Years of Work and Experience
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