I am the old guy

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Mike Paternoster. He was a regular customer of mine when I was a manager at Fuddrucker's restaurant, and we chatted most every time he came in. I knew his sons, and his wife, and that he owned this company. ServiceMASTER. He talked about it a lot, and always wanted me to work for him. I kept politely declining, because I though it was like Amway, a path I was NOT about to go down (again). But he was persistent. And one day we had a conversation.

The rest, as you may or may not know, is history. He hired me, I worked for him, found out he was a weasel and walked out after 2 years. He ate a bullet, I went to work at 3D, Belfor, The Mammoth, etc. And even though he and I left on rocky terms, I owe a lot of where I am now to him. Were it not for his stalker like behavior then, I might still be behind a kitchen line now. 

When I had worked for him for a year or so, he sent me to class to get my water damage certification. I went to this place called Cleanserv, by the airport, and sat in a room with 20 other people as the instructor taught us how to mitigate a flooded home. I remember looking around the room at he different faces. Some were brand new, just as green as me. Some were middle aged guys looking to start a second career. Some were seasoned veterans of the industry, just getting their CE credits. They would swap stories of jobs that went wrong and bet on which of us rookies would make it 3 months. (None of them bet on me). And there was the old guy, who had obviously been around forever and probably could have been teaching the class.

Once again, I find myself in class this week. A course I have been wanting to take for several years opened up and I jumped on the chance. Even though I can guide my team through any fire job, I had never been through the official curriculum. And I am enjoying it. I have learned several new methods of cleaning soot and like sharing ideas and information with my classmates. 

As we did a group exercise, the instructor was telling the class about who can do this job and who cannot. He pointed at me and said he knows I can do the job and that I like to help people, because I have been doing this job longer than anyone in the room, save himself. 

I looked around and took a quick inventory of the other students. There are a couple  guys about my age or older who own fledgling restoration companies, hoping to find the knowledge to make their second career a success. Then there are the rookies, the ones I had already secretly evaluated and decided who was in for the long haul. There were the seasoned vets, people who have been around awhile and are trying to get their CE credits. And there was me. 

It was almost surreal. Other than the guy who thinks he is Elvis (seriously, looks like he should be in Vegas), it was like the exact same class I took years ago. The vets. The rookies. The second chancers. And me, the old guy. 

Many years ago, sitting in the back of water tech training, I never thought I would be in this place today. When good old Paternoster hired me, this was just a job to get me by until I figured out what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. And while I still may not know exactly what that is, this career I have carved out will do. 

Day # 598. What he said was right. I love to help people. And with this job, I get paid to do it. It is good to be me!


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