With Father's Day fast approaching, do you have any tales to tell about how your father influenced your career?
I remember when I was a young kid on holiday with my parents. When we were on the beach, I could see small, round white scars and larger white lines on my dad's body. I later discovered the round ones were bullet holes, and the larger ones came from a grenade. I also remember, after he'd retired, my mom trying to persuade him to go to Europe with her on vacation, and him getting out of it with the very reasonable excuse that every time he'd been to Europe, someone had shot at him.
As an aside, after he'd returned to England, my dad went to an old lady who taught German. I have a sneaking suspicion he was hoping to learn the language to go back and meet the young lady who had saved his life. By some strange quirk of fate, my mom attended the same classes. She wanted to learn German because she had a pen-pal type boyfriend in Holland. My mom met my dad. They fell in love, got married, and made a gift of yours truly to the world. But I digress.
After the war, the act was no more. Syd was dead, and my dad could no longer dance. Dad came out of the Army in 1949 to work in the purchasing office of a small car accessories firm in Sheffield. By the time I decided to grace the world with my presence, he was a storekeeper at an engineering firm -- you know, the person behind the counter. Someone comes up and says, "I need six reverberating whatsits," and the storekeeper disappears into the gloom to retrieve them from the depths of the warehouse.
My dad never moaned and groaned about his change in circumstances. He just accepted that his glittering career was over, and he got on with things.
My dad never raised his hand or his voice to me. Also, I never heard him swear. He controlled me with the strength of his will. I remember thinking once when I was about eight years old that it would be a "wizard wheeze" to exchange the contents of the sugar bowl for salt. I could barely contain my excitement when dad went into the kitchen to make himself a coffee (black with two sugars).
He took his coffee into the front room to read his newspaper. He took the first sip... and nothing happened, except that a sort of silence fell. Dad kept sipping away at his coffee. With every sip, the silence grew louder. Eventually, I dragged myself away into the kitchen. My mom was doing something at the sink. She had her back to me, but she knew I was there, because she said: "I don't know what you've done, but this isn't going to stop until you apologize to your father."
So I slunk back into the front room and said, "I'm sorry, Dad." He raised his head from the paper, looked me in the eye, and said, "That's all right, son... but don't do it again." The gloom and doom evaporated. Beams of sunlight shone through the windows. The birds started singing again and... well, you get the idea.
I think my dad would have been tremendously proud to see this "Max The Magnificent" poster from the EE Times Fantastical Theatre of Engineering Innovation at EE Live! 2014.
I don't recall my dad ever taking a day off work due to illness. He never complained about his lot in life or the fact that his arthritis was "playing up." When my mom realized that he was having difficulty walking, she forcibly dragged him down to see a specialist. He ended up having his hip replaced. Afterward, the surgeon told my mom that my dad's hip joint was so badly damaged he must have been in excruciating pain. He'd never said a word to any of us.
So, how did my dad influence my career? For one thing, he was a hard worker. He left the house at 6:00 each morning and didn't return until the evening. When I was about five or six years old, I would wait for him at the bottom of our road. (You could let your kids do that in those days.) Every time a bus came, I would look on in anticipation until my dad finally arrived. Then we would walk up the road side by side. Even though he must have been exhausted, he always had the time to kick a soccer ball around our back garden with me until my mom called us in for supper.
With the benefit of hindsight (the one exact science), I realize that my dad influenced just about every aspect of me, including my career. Quite apart from anything else, both my parents constantly encouraged me from a young age, telling me that I was capable of doing anything I set my mind to and telling me that anything I had done -- like drawing a picture -- was without doubt an absolute masterpiece such as had never before been seen.
As a result, I'm a hard worker. I rarely take a day off sick (or a day off for vacation, for that matter). I don't take anything that isn't mine. (I will return to the supermarket if I realize I missed paying for something or if the cashier mistakenly gave me too much change). I'm easy going, and I get on with people from all walks of life. I don't get ruffled easily, and I like to think I'm at my best in a crisis. When others are running around in circles panicking, I tend to be the calming influence. And all this came from my dad. Thanks, Dad.
How about you? With Father's Day fast approaching, do you have any tales to tell about how your father influenced your career?
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting