Monday, June 1, 2009

Irony is everything

I was first married at the tender age of 20 to a man who is seven years my senior, named Greg. He and his parents were the epitome of a solid family in my perception at that time. (My father was an alcoholic and my mom a classic enabler, if not an alcoholic herself, I could never decide. So my teen years were pretty well messed up.)

Anyway, it took me two years (from 18 to 20) to convince him but we finally got married. Greg's parents lived about 50 feet from us and he and his dad operated a family excavating business. Greg was the brawn of the outfit and worked tirelessly for his dad, usually six and sometimes seven days a week all year round in broiling heat and frigid temperatures. It is a brutal business.

Within a year of our getting married, the real family dynamics became clear and the honeymoon for me with their "perfect" family ended: Greg worked for his dad but his dad and mom completely controlled the business and he was merely the brawn. We had many discussions about what would happen when his dad retired and ultimately Greg decided to go to the local community college. After two years of working those tireless hours and then going to school at night, he graduated as an electronic technician. Erin was born about a year or so into this process.

Greg's parents were never on board with his going to college but he and I felt he had to have some career in place when they decided to stop the business. It was very clear that he would never inherit the family business and have the opportunity to keep it going. Plus, electronic technicians don't have to work outside in sewers and such 12 months a year. So it looked pretty attractive.

After graduation, Greg had one interview at General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan and got the job. You have **never** seen a more proud and ecstatic man. He was 33 when he graduated. Greg's parents were never good at building his esteem so getting this job was an incredible feat in a number of ways for him.

He has worked at the GM proving grounds ever since. He worked for years in current year engineering and now he calibrates the crash test dummies for barrier and other tests.

Aside: We're fortunate in that we overcame our marriage breakup issues years ago (at his new wife's urging) so we could co-parent Erin and help her grow up as unaffected as possible given the situation. They visit and stay with us, we go visit them. We've even gone on weekend vacations with them. We're friends and that's been much easier on everyone for the past 30 years.

The irony comes in that General Motors is expected to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy today. Today is also Greg's birthday. I'm sure that will weigh heavily on Greg's mind today.

While GM has gone from having 615,000 employees to 88,000, they will never have a more loyal and dedicated employee than they do in Greg. He has declared numerous times that he will never retire -- he turns 66 today. They will seriously have to carry him out boots first to get him to leave. He rails about them and has never lost his feistyness about some of their bureaucratic convolutions but he loves what he does. He is extremely lucky that he has been able to work for a great company but not at an office job (he would never have made it in one of those) for all these years - since 1976.

Of all the days for GM to officially go into bankruptcy, it is just a crowning blow to have it happen on Greg's birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Goodwrench!

2 comments:

Employee No. 3699 said...

Happy Birthday to your ex. I think its great that you're friends with him.

Erin said...

Dad wasn't at work on Monday. He declared it a national holiday and celebrated at home. And I'm glad.

We talked on his birthday and he says he's actually ok with the bankruptcy thing because it helps get the G-D union off GM's back. Typical Dad.

And for a second there you got me. It took me that long to figure out you were using a different name for Dad. I was thinking, "She was married before Dad? REALLY? And she's telling me this on her BLOG?! Oh. Wait." Hee.