Friday, October 20, 2006


Wallace A. Johnson MBA
Apollo Project Test Pilot
CDR. Spaceship DEWAJ
Senior Navigator Test Pilot

I remember I was 14 at the time, and I was having a running conversation with myself about the human condition and the role I was playing in it. Suffice it to say, I wasn't very happy with things overall. The Depression was in full swing, my mother was working for the W.P.A. (Work Progress Administration) as a seamstress, I was hawking my Extra's whenever they came out, and with my shoe shine box, I was picking up a few cents here and there. But things were rough and I wanted to contribute more to the household needs, so I decided I had to get a job!

I had heard from some of the newsboys, that Western Union needed some Messenger Boys. I immediately got myself to the main office and got an interview with a nice gentleman who asked me all kinds of questions. First off, how old I was, well I knew you had to be 16 to even be considered, so naturally, I lied! Stood right there in front of that man and told a bald face lie. Although I don't think I had hit 110 pounds yet, he seemed to accept the fact and we went on with the interview. The next question, I was really fretting over. I knew it was coming, and it did. Looking me straight in the eye he said "Do you have a bicycle?" Without blinking an eye, I lied again! "Oh sure, I said" hoping my lying wouldn't give me away, because the facts of the matter was I didn't own a bicycle. Damn I thought, I'm getting good at this lying stuff. Which really made me uneasy because lying was something my mother wouldn't tolerate and it just wasn't my nature to lie about things. However, I understood that sometimes exceptions to the rule apply if circumstances require it. Those exception gave it a name, it was a "White Lie." I figured what I was being questioned about required my answering with a white lie. I had to get that job, so I told a white lie. My mother told me that if you find yourself in a circumstance where the answer to a question might hurt someone's feeling, then perhaps a white lie would serve a better purpose than to hurt one's feelings, but the exceptions were rare and one had to give it much thought. I figured I was encountering one of those rare exceptions, so I told a white lie.

Somehow I must have impressed the gentleman that was interviewing me because the next thing I knew, he was telling me that I could pick up my Western Union Uniform at the end of the next week, and that I was to start the week after that. He did impress upon me the fact that I would have to have my parents sign a form attesting to my age etc. and I took them saying it was no problem and that I would have them back immediately. But you must understand, I was really facing a dilemma. This job required that I own a bicycle and I didn't. So now I really had a problem.

Let me digress for a moment. I have been most fortunate as far as being gainfully employed all my life. It has always been a maxim of mine that I would never be unemployed, because If I ever found my self without a job, in other words, if no-one was interested in hiring me, then by hook or crook, I would make one. I am prepared to convince a potential employer that I would work for free, just long enough to convince him his business would suffer without my contribution. I can't say that I have ever found myself unders those circumstances, and you may think its rhetoric on my part, but I merely mention it because I actually would do it if I had to. Another thing that bothers me, is the fact that those who are without gainful employment at times, just don't seem to realize that when you are out of a job, you still have one, and that is to go out there and find one. No job is going to come knocking on your door. Another thing I have noticed is that if you look for a job, you have to be prepared for the shock of finding one. In other words, you have to be prepared to go to work. Seems to me that sitting at home and drawing unemployment checks doesn't do a thing for the psyche. Now don't get me wrong, I know sometimes things are beyond our control. I can think of nothing worse than to find oneself in a situation where you literally can't find employment and thank God that a mechanism exists for those in that circumstance to be able to hold things together at least for a time with unemployment insurance. Well enough of that, let's get back to Western Union.

Since I didn't have a bicycle, I had to get one, and I had to get it fast. So I put my brain to work, and here is what I did. I knew a gentleman who worked for the School System as a truant Officer, not because I was worthy of his attention, because I was never truant, but because everyone in the Houston School System knew Mr. Foster! He acted as school counselor at times so I knew him in that capacity. I went to him and told him about my recent escapade with the personnel people doing the hiring at Western Union and the fact that If I could just get my hands on a bicycle, I had myself a job. He was very understanding, and would you believe it, he put me in his car and drove me to the Houston Police Department where we met with an officer who was responsible for safekeeping stolen bicycles. They took me into a compartment and there in front of me must have been 50 bikes of all sizes and descriptions. He told me to pick out any one I wanted, which I did, then they had a person type a letter with the Houston Police Department letterhead on it, describing me, and the bicycle in detail explaining that if the owner of the bicycle ever encountered me accusing me of theft, that all I needed to do was produce the document which explained why I had the stolen bicycle. I rode the bicycle home feeling like I owned the world, when I realized that when I got home there would be another problem I had to hurdle, and that was my mother. However, I knew I had a guardian angel I could count on that had never failed me up to this point, so I went home with some degree of confidence that somehow things would work out. And they did as you will see in my next entry.


At 14 November, 2006, Blogger Rabbit said...

Another great story, Sir.
I hope you are doing well.
I'm looking forward to hearing more from you.


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