Friday, February 4, 2011

The Captain of The Whole Shindig

Kids say the darndest things. No, no, today's post isn't referring to an old Art Linkletter Radio Show or a Bill Cosby sitcom inspired by the former, no my two sons (not to be confused with the 1960's television show My Three Sons) provide the inspiration for todays prose.

My two progeny, are predictably smart, somewhat articulate, handsome and resourceful. Through the years my oldest son, has provided me with some real zingers, including his signature witticism, "well it's two for one, half dozen of the other." All of that advanced education and he still doesn't understand that 2 does not equal 6. My yougest son is responsible for the fairly random comment that inspired todays blog.

Recently, my sons and I spent a week at our hunting camp in the mountains of West Virginia. Shortly after arriving at the cabin for our first nights stay, we built a fire in the great stone fireplace that serves as the focal point of the one room cabin. The temperature outside of the cabin was hovering in the low 20's and the thermometer on the inside indicated a balmy 36 degrees. This probably explains why it was "shortly" after arriving at the cabin that we felt the need to build a fire. While the junior members of the hunting party unloaded our cache of hunting clothes, weapons and ammunition the noble patriarch (that would be me) carefully stacked kindling in the fireplace and before you could say "there is another dead mouse in that mouse trap," the cabin was being warmed by a crackling fire in the fireplace. With the truck unloaded and all of our provisions safely stowed, we settled into some comfortable chairs in front of the fire. It was really chilly in the cabin, consequently, all three of us ended up standing on the huge concrete hearth in front of the warm fire sharing an awkwardly quiet moment when all of a sudden Noah spoke up and pointed down at the large hearth and said, "you know, back in the day, that is where they slept." I replied, "where who slept?" Noah, matter-of-factly looked at me like I was clueless and said, "you know, the captain of the whole shindig slept here in front, and all of his grunts slept behind him, in order of rank." Well, JD and I simultaneously bent over laughing, where in the world had he heard this phrase? Well, it made sense, I am quite sure that back in the day, the captain of the whole shindig did sleep closest to the fire, and that night, I slept closest to the fire, being the captain of our little shindig, however, the grunts slept the night away while I was up every 2 hours throwing logs on the fire to keep the cabin warm.

It's interesting how truly great quotes will often be applied over and over again in different situations, to the degree that they sometimes become a cliche. A good quote just finds a way to "work itself into" conversations, just like grains of sand find there way into your swimming trunk pockets when you swim in the ocean or the way seeds from a blackberry find it's way between your teeth. I recently used the "captain of the whole shindig" quote at work. I have this co-worker who is preparing to retire at the end of the month. We will call him Alfred to protect his identity, after all that is Ricks first name and nobody will know who I am talking about if I refer to him as Albert. He, Albert, is a great guy and I have really enjoyed working with him. I have especially enjoyed our early morning coffee and skull sessions on days when he is arriving for his work day and I am finishing mine. He is a unique man, sort of a renaissance man in fact. At times almost jovial and at other times, a bit of a curmudgeon, but always a gentleman. Albert's antics are nearly legendary around the pharmacy, in fact one of the more humorous stories I have heard about Albert is the time that due to an illness he had been fighting off for weeks, he slumped over in his chair and fell to the floor one day at work. Now that is certainly not the funny part, the humor comes in hearing Albert tell the story, adopting his best, I get no respect around here, Rodney Dangerfield alter-ego, he tells how the technician he was working with stepped over top of him on her way out the door to make a delivery. Seems she thought Albert was just bending over to pick up his pencil off of the floor. Yet another humorous anecdote involves Albert and his infamous letter writing talents. In an effort to provide the employees an opportunity to share ideas or ask questions, the CEO of the hospital sponsors a "Dear Dave" program whereby the employee can send a letter or question to the CEO and then receive a reply. Well as legend reflects, Albert has written over a thousand letters to the CEO.

Albert has logged many miles in the hospital pharmacy and I respect him immensely. It is due to this level of respect that Albert is catered to around the department. He has his very own comfortable reclining work chair and when he arrives for work, whoever is sitting in Albert's chair vacates the chair on his behalf. In fact, on mornings when he is coming to work, out of honor for his senior status, I fix him a fresh pot of coffee, plug in his Ipod docking station and prepare his workstation for him. It just seems like the right thing to do. Albert is always willing to offer advice and guidance and that precisely is the reason I have labeled him as the captain of the whole shindig. Of course Alberts humble demeanor required him to brush the label off like it was some kind of a joke but to me, his actions and experience justifies the title. I wish Albert well in his retirement, although I will miss our morning coffee. Good Luck Mr. Rick, God Bless.


  1. Perhaps, my friend, a dulcolax suppository is in order.


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