As I’ve previously mentioned, I moved desks. I now sit in an area with Mr M. Lovely old chap – has worked with Pat since forever, he’s of that vintage. And like a fine wine his stories have been developing for years. He’s a quiet lad, grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Its taken some time for him to open up and become chatty, but I’m slowly getting some stories from him. And we all know I love stories especially from the older generations.
CLH and Mr M (and a few of the other ‘old’ guard, Steve R, J, etc) know each other quite well. They all met in 1997 from one of the many legacy companies Morrison Knudsen). CLH likes to say that you should trust none of what Mr M tells you and only half of what he can show you. Great concept, though I like to tell CLH that he’s just as bad 🙂
When Mr M came in this morning he was noting that the roads were slippery thanks to the snow. I agreed. But of course he lives about 45 minutes east of here and a little higher up so he gets more snow and cold than here. I don’t know where it came from but I put in a Colorado – Beautiful One Day Snowing the Next. I then had to explain that its adapted from Queensland tourism. Which digressed into ‘have you spent much time in Queensland?’ Of course I’ve only been up there a couple of times for holidays, so the answer is not really. Turns out that Morgan fell in love with Australia many many years ago. He never wanted to leave. When he was a young lad he joined the military and they sent him to Vietnam. Nine months after being in Vietnam he was given an R&R: to Sydney. He fell in love, with the place, the people, a sweetheart in particular. He returned to Vietnam at the end of his R&R and sounds like he’s continued to love Australia. I can’t begin to imagine the differences he saw in that small space of his life – secluded farm boy in the freezing north to the madness of Vietnam to the big city of Sydney. Mr M has been back to Australia a few times for work, Morrison Knutzen (one of the many Legacy companies) built the railway from Perth to Sydney, more recently he’s been up to Olympic Dam for work. There remains a plan to take the train from Perth to Sydney. I sincerely hope he does it one day.
Today’s story: Grandpas are a bad influence
This story could also be called something along the lines of ‘how children learn to lie’. Mr M loves hunting, goes whenever he can, and is passing this love on to his grandchildren. His grandson is five and granddaughter two and a half. Labor day weekend he took them out hunting, playing with bb guns etc., not real guns. Young lad pinched his finger in the mechanisms and had a little boo boo so he got to go to school with a bandaid on his finger. Of course when people ask he tells them that he and his sister were hunting with Grandpa and got his finger caught reloading. Then the teachers freak out and when Son goes to school pick up he is summoned to the Principals office to explain what is going on.
This winter the family was out hunting, this time with snow mobiles and of course young Grandson returns to school with stories of having his own snow mobile and having a grand time with Grandpa. The teachers again admonish the child for telling tall tales and Son is hauled into the Principals office to explain this time. He shows them the photos of Grandson with his snow mobile, there were no tall tales there (I liken this to kids having little dirt bikes, makes sense to me). This weekend when Grandpa and the kids were out hunting, they had a fairly sedate time, but of course Grandson returns to school with stories about his fun Presidents Day weekend. This time Son gets a letter from the school saying that Grandson is telling tales of his times with his grandpa and that he really shouldn’t tell these stories at school. The letter asks Son and Daughter-in-Law to teach Son not to talk about his weekends with Grandpa at school. Okay, so at least now the teachers have learnt that Grandson isn’t telling tall tales (they may be exaggerated, but what hunting story isn’t?). But they’re asking Son to teach his children to lie. I don’t care if you’re lying by omission, it is still lying. Astonishing.
Mr M of course got in trouble from Mrs M for taking the children out and giving them these experiences. I hope that Mr M doesn’t get curtailed too much, its those sorts of fun experiences that make a childhood so … well … fun! You don’t learn from sitting in a classroom and reading about things, get outside, enjoy the fresh air and get learning! (Rant over :))
I also sit right near a dear lad by the name of Chuck. Hehe, Chuck, with a fancy French surname….there are apostrophes and an ‘x’ and everything. We shall call him CLH for the purposes of this blog. Anyways, I was talking to CLH last night and we somehow were talking about confidence and how you can get away with all sorts of things if you sound like you know what you’re doing. He related a story of his past when he was working on an air force base. He’s been working there a while on and off and knew all the rules, but this one time he was heading in and they were doing spot searches of vehicles. he was chosen. They asked him to jump out and unlock the toolbox and return to the drivers seat. Shortly after the guy comes around with a 2ft machete. Of course Chuck was just thinking oh shit oh shit there goes my job.
Mr Air Force: What do you have this for sir?
Chuck: Its a survey tool.
Mr Air Force: [returns machete to tool box] Okay, carry on sir.
So there was the oh shit moment, but that was easily offset by quick thinking (it was used for surveying – when he was walking through the underbrush he’d take it to clear a path) and a bit of confidence.
Today we had Dan come into the office. Dan is a lovely old chap, he is mostly retired but also still working with us whenever he gets called in. I believe I have previously told you about his location in Hells Canyon. Today he was having a chat about his lovely wife, she is an animal lover by the sound of it. D has the menagerie that I know mum would like, horses, chickens, turkeys, I didn’t hear any pigs or donkeys so I guess D needs to add some animals. At any rate D has had to put together some interesting animal management techniques to make them useful. In the event that they want to use the animals for food D has to not have the animals on the property – 340 acres and he can’t have animals there or he cannot slaughter them. He now has a wild turkey that has joined his horses – the turkey appeared one day and started eating the horses food…now he has an extra mouth (beak?) waiting at the gate when he goes to feed up.
Mr M of many talents
Aside from all his hunting, farming, riding, etc, Mr M likes to race cars. He races stock cars. His stock cars are different to what I think of as stock cars. His brother is 77 years old and full time races stock cars…not just sponsoring or assisting, he drives them. Mr M is ten years his junior and has a couple of cars that he races part time. This weekend is a big race for him and his brother – its Brothers birthday and the race organisers are having a great time with the advertising…Brother will be chased around the track by his little brother, Mr M. So Mr M is off for the long weekend and I won’t get more stories from him.
Through the years Mr M has worked in many places. He’s been in Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, etc with the companies security teams. He tells me that there is a project happening at the moment in Mongolia, wrapping up…I told him I’d volunteer to go to any of those places if they need someone to organise the living daylights out of something – I’m the person he needs to call in. He talks of times when he was wanting to go hunting with locals in Iran but his security team refused the PTO because he wasn’t booked to fly home and there was no way they were allowing him to wander off into the hills with just his hunting guide. Of course they couldn’t go because they suck at hunting. So he had to stay. Apparently his hunting club (I do not recall the name) has been getting into developing Mongolia. They have been going in to towns and building schools to educate not only the children but also the adults in how to look after their animals in a settled (non-nomadic) society. This way they learn to look after and eat the sheep but also how to look after the wildlife. This is followed by bringing people into the area to hunt the wild animals. Apparently the stock standard elk goes fora $25k price, there are these fancy rams that go for $68k. These prices apparently about 2/3 go to the locals and 1/3 to the actual expenses of the trip. Sounds interesting, but undoes the amazing nomadic history of the Mongols.
I think this is enough stories for now. I’ll start afresh and get some more going. Enjoy!