The Good Old Days

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Remember when it was fun?

Yes, the good old days always seem whole lot better than they probably really were at least in the rear-view mirror. But, looking back from these too serious times we live in today, they probably were a lot better than we even remember

Here are a few stories from that somehow seemingly, lighter, and more carefree past:

From the 70’s: As a program coordinator (actually, a gloried name for expeditor) for Maine Electronics, in Lisbon, Maine, back in the non-computer days when we had to track every single layer, of every single board, by hand and wrote down the status in a black notebook.  There were six of us “program coordinators” getting to work at 5:00 AM, so that we could find and status all our parts for the big meeting at 7:00. At Seven sharp, the meeting would begin. There were six large cafeteria tables put together in a big conference room, and there still wasn’t room for everyone: supervisors, process engineers (methodizers, we called them back in the day) quality engineers, and sales people all quietly listening as each program coordinator read off the status, program after program, part number after part number, literally hundreds of them. While the rest of us lived in fear of the division president who sat at the head of the table, stopping the read of the status, every so often to scream at one supervisor, or another, because a part in the supervisor’s department had not moved in three days! Heads rolled, tables were pounded, accusations were made, fingers were pointed, and wild threats were made about the various things that would be done to the guilty party’s posterior, ranging from “getting a new one,” to chewing it, to a making it a new place for his head, to frying it; while a giant Maalox bottle was passed around the table.  Oh, the good old days!

Or from the 80’s: As the New England Regional Sales Manager for General Circuits out of Rochester, NY. In those pre-FedEx days, driving 200 miles a day. From my home office in Bedford, NH to Boston’s Logan airport to pick up boards that had been sent over night via US Airways, and bringing them to Computervision in Bedford, MA. Then dropping them off, visiting the buyer, an extremely salty old guy by the name of Lou Cardillo, who would threaten my with what he was going to do to my posterior if my boards were late again, and then giving me more purchase orders (yes we got PO’s every single day!) and the artwork films, which I then took back to Logan Airport, to send overnight to Rochester; and then picking up more boards that had come in since my last trip, for Digital Equipment and drive them to Acton, Littleton, Chelmsford, or Andover depending on where they were located at the time. Dropping off the boards, going in to see the buyers, getting my posterior threatened again (what was it with posteriors back then?)  Getting more orders and yes, more artwork, and taking it back to Logan. Then back home. Unbelievably we were doing so much business with these two companies, that my company, did not want me getting any new business…can you imagine? Ah the good old days!

Or from late 80’s early 90’s: There is nothing so challenging than working for a company that is in Chapter 11; and as it turns out, heading to Chapter 7. I’ve done it twice. General Circuits was eventually bought by a 26-year old would-be Michael Milliken, who in true Milliken fashion, milked it dry and then destroyed, that once great company. I was the Director of sales and Marketing at the time and my biggest issue was, as you can imagine, was keeping my sales guys invested and motivated. The second biggest issue was hoping that my company credit card would work at business dinners and checking into hotels when I was on the road, more times than I care to count it did not.

The very worse day of that entire sordid experience Was the last day (which I didn’t know at the time) with the company, actually it was everyone’s last day with the company, came when I was leaving Rochester.  I had a middle seat on the flight back to Boston and wanted to change it, so I called the travel agency (remember them?) and asked if they could call the airline for me and change my seat. Here is what the nice lady at the travel agency told me. “Do not change anything, do not talk to anyone, just take your ticket, and go straight onto the plane; because, if you stop and talk to any airline official, they will pull your ticket, your credit card payment was just cancelled, in fact your company card has been cancelled!” So, I did what she said, and gladly sat in the middle seat all the way to Boston. Once I landed, my beeper (remember those) was going off like crazy. Every one of my sales guys was paging me. So, I had to find a pay phone (remember those?) to call each of my remaining sales guys, who all informed me their pay checks had bounced that afternoon and asking what I was going to do about it?  Oh, the good old days!

Maybe they weren’t as good as all that?  Ya think?

Oh, one last thing. Remember that Computervision buyer I talked about? Lou Cardillo? That crusty old buyer from the 80’s? Well, I spoke to him on the phone last Sunday because it was his 98th birthday. We’ve known each other for over 30 years, and he’s still my best friend. It’s only common sense.

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