Monday, May 28, 2012

A Pattern Emerges

If you read the first post about my enlisting in the army, you might remember how I never seemed to get what I wanted. The recruiter signed me up to be a veterinary assistant. But, after all the tests at the processing center, they sent me to school to be a construction equipment repairman. Then, at the engineer maintenance platoon, they learned I could type, so they had me replace the parts clerk. But, that wasn't the end of it by any means. When the company clerk departed, I ended up behind his desk.

Back home and after working in the service station for 4 or 5 months, I met some guy who wanted to share an apartment in North Hollywood. I jumped at the chance to truly get out on my own. The complex was a bachelor's dream with most of the apartments occupied by Stews from TWA, Pan Am, American, and others.
I realized that being a grease monkey was not what I wanted to spend my life doing. I was told that National Cash Register Company was hiring technicians to repair their equipment – and they would train you.


Those were the days when I owned a suit and tie so I dressed up and headed downtown to the NCR office. I filled out an application and they gave me a test right away. Being very good at taking tests, I was not surprised when the interviewer told me I'd aced it – no misses. He then gave me another test very much like the aptitude test the army gave me when I first enlisted. Again, the results came back very positive and I was offered a position where they would send me to Akron, Ohio to learn to repair their cash registers – and banking machines.
Oops! There was one little hitch. It would be several months before the classes would start. However … If I was interested, there was an opening in their parts department. I could work there, gain seniority, and learn a lot before going back to Ohio.
Why not? It was better than pumping gas and cleaning windshields.
I signed the contract and reported by my new job the following Monday. Earning a lot more than in the service station.
Even after all these years I can see the guy who ran the parts room. His name was Ed and he'd worked for NCR since the turn of the century. He told me he'd worked on the first cash register with an electric motor. The guy knew where every nut, screw, bolt, and pin in the large parts room was located. A tech would come in, show him the part, and he instantly knew where to find it. He could even tell the year and model of the machine it belonged to!
I don't know why, but it turned out to be an easy job for me. I, of course, had to follow the various manuals and lists Ed had on hand but I quickly learned where most of the stuff was and how to check stuff in and out.
And then Ed dropped the bombshell on me – he was planning on retiring and had selected ME to be his replacement. Oh goody. At 21 years of age I could look forward to spending the next 44 years or so stuck in a room full of parts and a service counter.
Security. Good retirement package. A company that would be around for years to come. What more could I possibly ask for?


  1. Oh, to be back in a seemingly 'simpler' time. Nice post.

  2. Just wandered over from QT, and I'm already a big fan of your storytelling ability. Can't wait to look around more!

  3. Thanks for dropping by. If you haven't had a chance, check some of the older posts about my first tour of duty.

    I'm in a seesaw right now - one post here and another at Father Serra's Legacy @

    Hope you enjoy the posts there too.