1 EAGLETON NOTES: Thankful Thursday

.

.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thankful Thursday

Virginia in a post on her leaving Barbados for a holiday remarked that the Gate Control Officer was the best Gate Control Officer that she'd ever met.  It reminded me of a person I think of very frequently and have done ever since I was a small boy at prep school.  

Some years ago I posted the following about him on my A Hebridean in New Zealand blog:
When I was a small child in Liverpool we had a neighbourhood street sweeper. He happened to be called Alfred but that's not relevant except to demonstrate the weird tricks of memory whereby I can recall a name from 60 years ago and not remember momentarily the name of a friend's daughter whom I've known all 40+ years of her life during a conversation when I was speaking on the phone today. 
When I was walking down the road I often chatted to Alfred. One day he imparted some wisdom to me that I've never forgotten. 
CJ and I went to a small private Prep School in the area. You need to know that because of what Alfred said. 
Alfred said that whilst he was only a street sweeper with little education and I went to a smart school what mattered was who you were and that you strove to do what you did as well as you could. He said that he was satisfied that he was the best street sweeper in Liverpool. And he may well have been. 
What struck me later though was his use of the word 'only'. I have never got used to people who say that. I once rang an office and when I asked who was speaking was told that it was 'only' the office junior. I pointed out that most offices can function satisfactorily for a while without senior staff but that most offices seem to collapse if the office junior is not there to find things. Well that's how it used to be anyway. There is no such thing, if one thinks about it, as an only in life. There are just different roles to be played.
It's odd what we recall and what shapes our thinking. 
As Andy used to say "It's a funny old world, Dad."
I am very thankful for Alfred's lesson.  It's made me appreciate people and the jobs that they do and to realise that there are many people 'above' me in the educational, social, socio-economic and employment arenas who could look at me and say "he was only..."

22 comments:

  1. A post well worth repeating. Not that I ever thought of you in terms of an "only", mind! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Monica. You of course have read and commented on it before. We've been mutual followers for quite a while!

      Delete
  2. What you do is not who you are. Those should always be separated. The biggest hearts reside sometimes in the people who are mostly on the sides.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely Mersad. What you do in terms of your role in life anyway.

      Delete
  3. I have always thought this - and I do try to learn names of people who take on jobs that make our surroundings pleasant. The first entry on this link is a reason why.
    http://boardofwisdom.com/togo/?viewid=1005&listname=Learning

    Our rubbish man is called Dave - he is disabled and I always greet him by name. Struggling a bit with the ladies though as they keep changing our cleaning company at work... must try to learn her name on Monday.

    You can tall a lot about people by how they treat waitresses etc....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very apposite advice and truths in the link Fiona. I always found that knowing the name of the cleaning staff was very important. I recently met one of the ladies who cleaned my office back in the '70s in the supermarket. Two things chuffed me: I remembered her name; she remembered mine.

      Delete
  4. well said, GB! When I taught, the two people who were the most necessary for the running of our school were the school secretary (she knew where EVERYTHING was) and our janitor. I know this because when either was absent, the principal had no idea where most forms, etc were stored; and when the janitor was absent, we had to clean our classrooms. It took me at least twice and probably thrice the time to clean. Bless each of those people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely Norma. In my Grammar School the school secretary was almost a deity and the two janitors ruled their domains with rods of iron. I'm ashamed to say that I can't recall their names but the head gardener (we had extensive gardens: I bet they don't even employ a gardener now) was known as Der Rosenkavalier because we had the most magnificent rose gardens. I wonder if there is a school left in Britain with a rose garden.

      Delete
  5. There are (were) two people in my life that helped me in this way, too. Wasn't I lucky! Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were lucky Katherine but I suspect you were a natural knower-of-names anyway.

      Delete
  6. Great post....made me think of my dear old mum who always taught us that we should never look down our noses at anyone, even if they had less than we did. We were respectful to all the Alfreds, and I taught my daughter the same thing too.
    One never knows when your luck will change in life...so be nice to everyone.
    As an aside, lots of folks somehow had the idea that I would become snooty after I returned from my university studies, but I continued to rub shoulders (as I do now) with everyone, and I have quite a few Alfreds as friends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too Virginia. On the whole Alfreds are very rewarding companions and friends.

      Delete
  7. Your post reminds me of a childhood friend of mine and my friend, Marie - Shorty, the night soil collector. I remember how thrilled we were when he learned our names and could return our greetings by name. Funny thing is, it was our teachers, the nuns, who disapproved! Although they said it was the boisterous,unladylike manner in which we made our greetings that was offensive. Good memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pauline, in my experience some of the least Christian attitudes came from the people who gave the greatest outward show of their professed faith.

      Delete
  8. Only a nobody is an only.......I've yet to meet a nobody but have met lots of pompous somebodies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Adrian there are lots of pompous somebodies around. There was a wonderfully apposite quote on a blog recently - could have been yours - which I meant to make a note of but forgot. I must do something about my memory.

      Delete
    2. When you do do something that works Geeb, tell me what it was, so I can do it too. Assuming you remember this request.

      Delete
    3. I've made a note of the request Katherine so all I have to do now is remember where I made the note. Easy. Ha.

      Delete
  9. An hour ago on my way home from work, I came across this sentence in the book I am currently reading: "It is not where one is, but in what direction he is going." That somehow struck a chord with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that Meike. It strikes a chord with me too.

      Delete
  10. Wonderful comments, all. :^) If only humans did not have class, casts, and stations in life. I believe we are all glorious souls with various coverings and it benefits far more to not judge at all from the outside or the inside, but to accept. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, but oh, the benefits, when we manage to do so. . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia I agree that it can be difficult not to judge from appearances sometimes but if we are even aware of our frailties then perhaps we can improve a bit.

      Delete