Friday, May 12, 2006

Wax on, wax off, Allie-san

My mother has offered to take over my duties at our business so I can return to Loreto. This past week we have been organizing my office and catching up on months of neglected tasks in preparation for her to take my place. She will live in our home while we are away which means she will be sharing a house with two college-age boys this summer. It will be interesting to see who has the biggest influence on whom. We may come home to find my mother swept away in the fun and meyhem, staying up late, swigging a few beers while the boys set up band practice in the basement, ordering pizzas and sub sandwiches, lounging around the pool and hot tub, sleeping till noon on the weekends. Of course all of that on their off-time. All three of them will be working together keeping the family business running. Summertime is when our family business really looks like a family business.

The boys will return to their jobs cleaning and organizing auto parts for inventory, or moving and crushing cars, (a coveted task because it involves big machinery) or building racks and shelving, block walls, storage sheds, fences. Since they are young and brawny, they get the labor work. When they were rookies they got handed the lowly jobs like brooming and hosing down the warehouse or picking up trash. We'd ignore their grumbling and complaints that their chores didn't relate at all to the true purpose of our business. What did cleaning the warehouse have to do with anything? But each summer as they grew bigger and more trusted we gave them more challenging tasks that they found rewarding or fun. I think they enjoyed work more than they would admit. They got to wear grungy clothes, work various jobs mostly outside, mostly unsupervised, and most definitely gaining what all boys want: muscles.

Allison gets a little taste of work when I bring her to the office as I have had to occasionally in the past. On this trip she had to tag along with her grandmother and me for a long day at work. We tried to keep her busy with little tasks like taking checks to our manager to sign before I landed on a brilliant time-waster: shredding a huge box of discarded files and papers. A half-hour into the project she was sighing and phewing, "I'm tired." Finish the job, we said. She got one break when the paper shredder overheated and the other when lunch arrived. She took her "break" sitting in the chair between Alan and John at the sales counter eating her chicken nuggets among the men who sell auto parts, the top dogs. I remember looking the scene over, smiling at her little person in the captain's chair thinking that she could very well be the child who takes over her daddy's business. "What does shredding have to do with anything?", she might compainingly ask one day.

Well, nothing...and everything.

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