Chapter 3 - Bernard
Sorry for the late post tonight. Every Friday, I write a newsletter to my subscribers for Copyblogger. So I had to squeeze this one in after dinner.
It’s pretty raw. I was typing fast. But I’m excited to tell this story.
Thanks for reading.
Right after I graduated high school, I got a job at a local mechanic. The shop was called Tires Plus.
I was a tech, which means I did the menial labor that didn’t require any real training or schooling.
Basically, I changed oil and changed tires.
“Slinging hoops” we called it.
Okay There Young Bull
The lead tech at Tires Plus was a man named Bernard. Bernard was a hard working man who grew up in East Mt. Airy, which is a neighborhood is Northwest Philly.
Bernard had 4 sons, who he spoke about every day. He drove a Toyota Corolla and he’s had it for almost 20 years. Every year, Bernard spray paints his car because he thinks that “if you take care of your car, your car will take care of you.”
Bernard called me “young bull.” Everyone in the shop called him “B.”
Bernard knew everything there was to know about tires. This was a man who grew up in a lower class family and made a great living for himself by discovering an industry and a skillset that he could capitalize on.
He knew about different tractions, different brands of tires and the different price ranges. He knew about the rubber markets and about the seasonality of the tire industry. He could tell you the size of a tire just by looking at it.
Nothing was handed to him in life, but he decided somewhere in his life that he was going to make something of himself, and because of that, he showed up to work every day wearing a smile and showcasing his dignity and pride.
Bernard was rough around the edges, no doubt. We all were. But Bernard was a man who knew who he was, and I found that admirable.
Changing tires has a lot of steps, more than you would think of.
First, you have to drive the car into the bay. Then you have to get the car on the lift. Then you have to find the right size wrench to pull off the lug nuts. The fact that Americans and Europeans use different metrics is especially annoying. Then you have to roll each tire over to the tire machine.
At which point, you have to let the air out of the tire, break it down, soap it, get the tire wrench in-between the rubber and the rim, spin the wheel and pull the tire off.
Then you have to pop in the valve, and do the exact process all over again, but in reverse to get the new tire back on.
Then you have to fill the tire with air and roll it over to the balancing machine.
Then you have to spin the tire in the machine, hammer the weights in the right spots, pick the tires up, put it back on the car, tighten it, and then use the torque wrench to tighten it to the proper torque. More often then not, we just tightened them with the gun, but only when our boss wasn’t looking.
When the shop is busy, it’s very chaotic. There are tires rolling around everywhere. There are a million steps. You are trying to take out oil filters and drain oil pans while slinging hoops at the same time.
I can still smell it.
Now, at that time in my life, I had a very nervous disposition. I found it very difficult to keep my cool under pressure. One time, I even let a customer drive off the lot without screwing his tire back on. I could have killed the guy. There was something about the busyness of the shop that always made me very nervous.
One day, Bernard pulled me aside.
He asked why I struggled so much. I confided in him a bit and told him about how I never felt like I was good at anything other than skateboarding and sports.
I was a terrible student, I didn’t go to college, and I felt like a loser.
Then Bernard gave me the answer. He said …
“Young bull, you’re problem is that you move around too much when you work.”
It really was that simple.
My Feet We’re Always Ahead of My Brain
** I’ll fill this in later. Basically write about my busy mind and body. **
When my daughter was born, she wasn’t breathing. You noticed right away that there was a problem. We put her on my wife’s chest and both her and I knew something was wrong.
My wife’s best friend was a nurse at the delivery unit at Vanderbilt hospital. She delivered both my kids. I knew it was serious when she handed me the scissors to cut the ambilocal chord.
I said “but it’s not done pumping yet.”
I said that because I’m fascinated with stem cells and I wanted my kid to get all the stem cells possible. Allie knows this about me, and she looked at me and said “Tim, cut the chord.”
So I did.
Before I could blink, a group of 3 or 4 women opened the door and walked into the room. They didn’t quite bust the door down, rather they forcefully but gracefully entered at their own speed. You could feel them as soon as they showed up.
The one nurse grabbed Willow with one hand.
The 4 women surrounded my little baby. Willow was purple and frozen.
These nurses were tossing my my tiny daughter around 5 feet above a hard tile floor. They were passing her around back and forth so fast I couldn’t even keep up. They passed her from one person to another. They fipped her upside down. They spun her around. They were holding her with one hand by her shoulders and neck and chin.
They had no hesitation. They never thought for one second that dropping Willow was an option. They simply … moved.
It was amazing.
I Thought Of Bernard.
Have you ever seen a carpenter do cabinet work?
Cabinet work is beautiful. If you mess up your measurements by an 8th of an inch, your cabinets will be a full inch off down the line.
The way cabinet makers work is effortless. The way they move their hands is calm and assertive and true.
That’s what these nurses were like.
They were artists. They were artists of life. They were painting on a canvas of flesh and oxygen and EKG machines.
As I was watching these nurses save my baby daughter, the funniest thing happened. I thought of Bernard.
I thought of how these nurses moved with complete efficiency. They wasted no space, no time, and no mental bandwidth. Everything they did, they did as efficiently as they possibly could.
The way they passed my little daughter around was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. They were calm and graceful. It was poetry. Watching them, I knew that my daughter would breathe.
It makes me cry just thinking about it.
Suddenly, the room filled itself with the sounds of a crying baby. That sweet sweet sound filled the room. My purple daughter turned bright pink.
I heard one of the nurses say “yes, I like that much better.”
Then they were gone as quickly as they appeared. I don’t even know what they looked like.
“All right young bull" is what Bernard would have said
** Add in the last time I saw Bernard **