Well, here it is “March Fools’ Day” and for me it’s a time to be sentimental for a minute. I’ve always loved April Fools’ Day even though I don’t usually play the pranks. It’s just a day to have fun for me. It usually means Spring has officially sprung and I can give up on Winter.
This time around, there are a lot of things on my mind. I retired from the Air Force on April Fools’ Day 10 years ago next month. Though I served 20 years, 11 months, and 2 days, that 10 years seems to have flown by. I’ve fit a whole lot into that little bit of time. Some of it was tough, but most of it has been “new growth,” a time for me to make a different mark on the world.
Even with all the new growth, I do miss the old life. The Air Force was good to me and I had opportunities to see and do things most people never imagine exist. Even though I saw many different parts of the world and experienced the cultures and people, really the best habit I learned was that I could solve a problem or “save the day” every day. It’s something I learned when I was young and impressionable, thanks to my first supervisors, who are still friends almost 30 years later! They deserve a lot of credit, but I’ve learned since then that they never would have made an impression on me if I hadn’t been WILLING to be impressed.
The military has a way of making people willing. There’s a whole system that’s developed in Basic Training, and of course nobody in their right mind would intentionally go to Basic Training if they weren’t at least a little bit willing. Beyond that, it still takes willingness for a person to learn the things that were impressed on me during my first tour at Offutt AFB. Quite honestly I’ve never seen anything like it before or since, though I did duplicate it once I’d been put fully in charge of a different team some 20 years later. Though that implementation was a success, the organization was shut down before my subordinates could bloom without me, which is a shame. It seems as if I’m one of the last members of a dying breed because of it.
So what’s so special about this dying breed? Well, if you take a group of exceptional technicians and then teach them to pass along the essentials of a superior maintenance program that’s tied directly to the success or failure of an entire nation in its progression of a Cold War against a country that could annihilate the USA with the push of a button, well that’s us. We knew how to do everything. If we didn’t know how to do something we’d invent a way. This was high tech stuff we dealt with back in the 80’s and 90’s, and most of the world still doesn’t know it existed.
We made a lot of our own parts from scratch. We knew how to operate milling machines and lathes, and we knew how to make circuit boards under microscopes. We knew how to rebuild pumps and make our own heating and cooling systems. Not one of us was an engineer, but we built some of the most impressive systems you would ever see. If something didn’t work as designed, we’d redesign it while it was running and keep the good ole USA rolling in the process! We were a team of talented minds assembled by the Air Force, but kept together by our mutual desire to kick butt and have a blast doing it.
I really miss those times. Though they’re gone, my attitude hasn’t changed much, I really like to solve problems on the fly, kicking butt and having a blast doing it. Amerivet Services provides me almost as many opportunities to do that as the Air Force did. I absolutely love the opportunities that come to me, because every one is a new challenge, and a chance to solve a problem or save the day.
While I miss the old times, I’m really enjoying the new times, I enjoy repairing an excavator in the dead of night, or constructing a building in the coldest winter on record. I like welding up lawnmower decks and repairing aircraft hangar doors. It really doesn’t matter what “comes through the door,” I really love the challenge of solving a problem and making a customer’s life better.
So I can thank Marcel, Becky, Tony, Ron, Burt, DJ, and a few hundred other people for showing me the way, but I also need to thank all of my customers for letting me have an outlet for a lifetime of learning that’s just waiting to be turned loose. All of you have given me a reason to smile.
May April Fools’ Day bring something special to you as well!