Dirty Jobs! But I LOVE THEM.

Three Dirty Jobs

Job #1

This is a SWEATY, physically painful job. There is Travel and constant weekend work. It has an unimaginably, inconsistent time schedule and I work with very uncooperative co-workers. At times I freeze and swear at the wind which always seems to blow in the wrong direction. It is muddy, slimy, and sandy. It is also Heartbreaking almost every year.

BUT, I absolutely LOVE it. I love all that goes with it, and all the people that are connected to it.

Job #2

Job #2 is dirty. It is Stressful. This job makes my clothes smell like dust/oil/factory. This job consumes way too much time. It keeps me up at night worrying. This job has me on the brink of being fired from job #1 and MAY have been a final nail in the coffin of the breakup of my marriage.

But, I Love the men who work there and the People surrounding it and the Legacy that it carries on.

Job #3

No one tells you how dirty this job is or hard…you have to find out for yourself. I get yelled at constantly and talked back to. I repeat myself over and over and over and over… I have totally unreliable “coworkers” who either wake up way too early or Don’t get out of bed at all until you call them, yell at them and threaten to “FIRE” Them. My feet are wet, dirty, and I seem to track mud everywhere. I pick things up to find that I have to do it again WAY TO SOON to the point where I wonder why I even bothered to pick things up at all. There is little to no sleep at times and the job is not a 9 to 5. IT NEVER ENDS! Oh and there is poop!

THis is my absolute favorite job…and I would do it again and again AND AGAIN!!!!

The Jobs

I love them ALL. I wake up Happy. I do, however, have Guilt. Because of all these jobs I feel that I don’t (can’t) give 100% to all of them. This could lead to #1 or #2 being downsized or eliminated (but this is a really, really hard decision). Job # 3 is a FOREVER job and is my FAVORITE. In fact I am thinking of bringing on more of these Unreliable “Employees”. I just need the right “Business Partner”.

I don’t know exactly where the shift happened. Maybe my LIFE just got better in general. I studied in college to be a Teacher. I became a teacher and my first two years of teaching were NOT GOOD. I think it had to do with Coaching Football. I HATED IT!!! (Probably had a lot to do with being an assistant and not having control over my schedule). I traveled to Asia, Europe,and across the U.S for a year to “find myself”. I found out that you make your own happiness.  When I returned I became a Teacher again and absolutely loved it!!!. I left that job for an out of State Teaching Job and was not so happy. I was just another employee…I did not matter. Then I became the Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach at Westminster College. It wasn’t a job it was ME. There is an old saying: “find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life”.

Eight Years ago my Dad passed away. He owned a business. The guys who worked there were like my older brothers and were in their 50s. I was worried about their future, so I took that responsibility on. I hated it at first; I had no idea what I was doing. I stressed over how to make payroll each month and that I didn’t really know how to generate business. Long story short…I kind of figured it out.

My ex-wife and I struggled to have kids. We went to specialists. We had so many miscarriages I lost count. They were completely devastating each time. Then boom, Boom, BOOM- Three kids in a row with hardly a breath between. Being a Dad added to stress level because I wanted to be a great Dad…like the one that I had. So coaching my kids’ sports (or just playing with them) now became another chunk of time and other things (like recruiting calls to prospective Student-Athletes or sales calls to clients) were seriously squeezed.

So as I was unplugging a Track & Field Steeplechase pit I couldn’t help but think about the DIRTY JOBS I have.

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Here I am the HEAD XC/TF coach at Westminster College and because the PLUG in the pit was jammed, I was the one who had to go in and get it. I lay on my stomach and stuck my hand in. This water was GROSS. Rain water, slime, mud, environmental dust, leaves, slugs, etc. The water was brown…I couldn’t even see the plug. Yes, I could have had an assistant do this. One has small (as in length) arms and would have been in the water and one is a distance runner who probably wouldn’t have the strength to pull this plug out due to all the water pressure. I pride myself in leading from the FRONT. Don’t make someone do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself. Well, I wasn’t willing, but what other option was there. You think Nick Saban (Alabama Head Football Coach) or Urban Meyer (Ohio State Head Coach) have to do stuff like this?!?

But doing this made me laugh. It was just another funny story. Like the time my assistant and I had to move the high jump pits inside and realized the cover must have had a leak and the foam was full of water and FROZE. We basically labored to move frozen blocks of ice. Or the trip to NCAA nationals to Wisconsin years ago when we found our Women at a bar talking to some Men that we had met earlier that night and thought they were shady characters. We chased the guys off and took the girls into the elevator and we all busted out laughing. The People I coach are amazing. They are so busy…way busier that I ever was in college. They are truly STUDENT-ATHLETES that are way OVER INVOLVED. I think this is why I seem to connect well to them. I know how they feel. Each spring I have to say goodbye to the seniors. And that is the hardest thing about my job. I watch them grow up before my eyes. I see them come to my school as boys and girls and see them leave Men and Women. I am a CRYER….so yes, it makes these goodbyes unbelievably hard. While I hate Crying, I am so fortunate to be in a job that I get to share so much LOVE, JOY, and Pain.

Before this season started I started to wonder if I wanted to do the coaching job anymore. My kids are getting older and I am going to be forced to chose between my job and some of their extracurricular activities very soon. I expressed to one of my Long Time Assistant coaches that I was thinking of leaving. He told me to stop being a WIMP (Slight word Change) and that most people have to REALLY WORK. It hit home…yeah, I have a job I love with a lot of flexibility.

At my shop, 20 years ago we used to joke that Hollywood should make a sitcom about THE SHOP. Then Reality TV hit and those types of shows got popular. I think we missed our chance…but a reality show about The Shop would have had unique personalities and regular visitors that would have been an entertaining watch.

The guilt is the part I struggle with the most. Because I try to be everywhere (school, shop, home) I often feel like I am nowhere. I can leave my house at 7:45 AM and get home at 7:45 PM (pretty typical day) and feel like I didn’t accomplish much. It is hurry up and get to the next job, or hurry up to pick kids up, or hurry up and wait. I can see my colleagues at either job saying “Tim is NEVER here”. Heck, I feel like I am never there!

I don’t know how to solve this problem, but it is a good problem to have. I know people that punch a clock for eight hours a day and hate their job. I am fortunate that I work 10-12 hours a day and it feels like I am not even working. Then I get to be Dad.

My dad was an awesome dad. He was my first and forever coach. Each day as I play with my kids, help them with homework, talk to them, take them to practices, bike rides etc I realize that I am trying to be the Dad that my Father was. I can only hope that I am as successful as he was.

Three on One Parenting is very difficult. Because at Home there is no MOM, I have to fill that role (a whole post can be filled on gender roles…but for now… I make lunches and dinner, do laundry, fold clothes, etc). Each stage of my kids’ lives is a joy to watch. I miss them being little…but hey who knows…maybe the right woman will come along and I can bring a few new “UNRELIABLE EMPLOYEES” on.

My life is a Journey. I would like to say that I am picking all the paths that I want to go down on my journey, but I would be lying. There are times that things are so out of control and I end up on paths that are unfamiliar and scary. I picked some of these jobs and some of these jobs PICKED ME. I am happy that I chose to be COACH. I am happy that this Business picked me to be BOSS. AND I am VERY HAPPY that my kids call me “DAD”!

Learn to Dance!

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Part 1: Before the Dance

“In this world you can learn to dance like there’s no tomorrow ” Andrew McMahon LEARN TO DANCE

The year I got divorced was an emotional roller coaster. I wouldn’t wish a divorce (when one doesn’t want it) on my worst enemy. I floated through my days during the early part of the year. I was lost and felt nothing emotionally inside my soul for long stretches. There were bouts of extreme sadness. There was emptiness. The emptiness was worse. Then I felt extreme rage at what had happened to my family. I remember welcoming the anger because feeling anger was better than not feeling at all. And ANGER was certainly more manly than the sadness I felt. I could not control it though. It was like the characters Sadness and Rage killed Joy and Fear from the movie Inside Out.

I joined a gym and started taking fitness classes as the social aspects of group class soothed a lot of the rage and emptiness. I reconnected with old friends at the gym. One of my sisters old friend’s husband taught a fitness class where you lift heavy Kettlebells and do a lot A LOT of Burpees (you know where you throw yourself on the ground, get back up, and then do it again!…yeah, I pay to do it too. Perhaps a story on that another time.).

This particular gym had a Halloween party and I went. The old friend of my sister’s brother runs a Ballroom Dance studio. He was at the party with many of the members of the dance studio. A particular girl dressed as a character of one of my favorite ever movies The Wizard of Oz stood out to me. We actually had a good talk. She was a dancer. This dance thing might be really good for me. Long story short…I signed up for one free class at Fred Astaire Dance studio. I gave all my info and it was scheduled for around the middle of Nov.

I knew absolutely nothing of dancing. I had heard of the Waltz, but Foxtrot, Rumba, Tango??!!?? I struggled with the Electric Slide in college. I was always a willing dancer at weddings and parties though. Often (when married) I would be only guy on dance floor at weddings. I enjoyed dancing…but I just moved around a lot. No rhythm at all!

What would it hurt to take one free lesson, right? I got an email saying my instuctor would be Oksana. I creep on her Facebook. Eastern European…and from her dance photos-Damn!!!…that body of hers!!!! I was definitely more interested in this dancing thing.

Oksana was amazing. I was hooked from the first 10 minutes. I learned the waltz, foxtrot, tango, rumba, and swing. I signed up for the 10 class package. It was not cheap! But it was definitely worth the money.

There were group lessons too. On Friday nights there was a beginner group class and then a free dance party. I went most fridays. I danced with so many people. It was a little like being in 8th grade again at a school dance. I danced with everyone…great dancers, older ladies, beginners (not that many beginners as me though).

The Studio had a 60th Anniversary celebration, they had showcases, and they had Competitions. I went to watch most of them. The social aspect was soothing to my soul. I began to believe that I could do these things.

The change didn’t happen slowly either. All of a sudden I am watching You Tube videos of Dance Competitions in Europe, How To videos on dance steps, and past seasons of Dancing with the Stars. I am studying these (sometimes in slow motion) like a Football Coach watching game film..rewind, slow motion, again again again.

Oksana’s name became a familar one in my house and my world as I probably talked about her WAY too much. But she was helping me find the ME that disappeared the last few years of marriage. The ME that Traveled the world easily 20 years ago, that wanted to be around people, and the me that longed for Adventure and New Experiences.

“I am going to be a dancer”, I said to my kids one evening.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha”, my son burst and pointed at me like i was some dork who dropped his tray in the cafeteria at school and He was the school bully. I have to admit, I felt a little bit of pride at his reaction. Dancing still felt a bit Wrong in my Worldview. It was like Billy Elliot in reverse.

Part 2: The SHOWCASE

“She took my arm, I don’t know how it happened, we took the floor and she said, ‘Oh don’t you dare look back, Just keep your eyes on me’, I said you’re holding back, She Said ‘Shut up and Dance with Me’. SHUT UP AND DANCE WITH ME by Walk the Moon

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Sometime in the middle of my Track & Field Season, while balancing 3 kids’ young lives, hosting the conference Track & Field Championships, getting over 150 customers awnings up for spring, bringing on a brand new employee at my shop, and trying to reach my goal of actually reading a book per season of the year (TOTAL FAIL) Oksana convinces me that I should do this showcase. The showcase is really just a synonym for a Dance Recital that grownups who spend a LOT OF MONEY on dance like to use.

She wants me to do the Waltz. She knows my dancing and where I feel comfortable. I completely feel at ease doing the Smooth Dances. I really like the Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango. I am not so into the dance where there is a lot of HIP action and Rhythm. I like Waltz. I agree and sign up.

Oksana and the other professional at the studio had me watch them perform the exact dance they think that I am able to do with my current abilities. We film it. I get a copy of that film. If that recording was a VHS tape, I would have worn it out. I watched it, I studied it. I practiced it by myself. My college has a dance studio and I would regularly go there and practice always looking in the mirror in case someone was at the glass doors where I would then stop dancing and pretend to do something else when someone walked by. I remember being annoyed when the actual Dance team was in there using it.

Since I signed up for the second set of 10 lessons at the Dance Studio, I tried to balance the cost of the individual lessons and take as many of the free Group lessons that I could to lower the Per Class Cost. Once this Showcase thing got going, the frugality went out the window. I went to Private Lessons 3 times per week sometimes. I actually won a prize at one of the Friday Dance parties for most lessons attended during a week.

I actually had to take a week off due to work to travel to the NCAA National Track & Field Championships. The very next practice after that, I really had trouble with a step. I couldn’t get it right. I would step left instead of right. I would not RISE and Fall as you are supposed to do with the Waltz, I would get it right once then fail the next two times. I was frustrated. The next morning I was supposed to have a hard Run Workout. I started the run then stopped at the Tennis Courts at the park, pulled out the DANCE FILM on my phone and walked my dance out, then slowly danced it, then figured it out and turned it into MUSCLE MEMORY. When that worked, I started doing that a lot. Workouts went out the door. I had to practice this dance!

The dress rehearsal was on a Thursday. I was nervous during the day. At the studio that night the butterflies really went to a level I hadn’t felt since before playing for a college National Championship in Football at 21 years old. I was weak kneed! And IT WAS THE DRESS REHEARSAL!

I cancelled my friday appointment with Oksana (I was nervous to tell her..ha ha). I took a fitness class with my friend who in a sense got me into the whole dance thing. I practiced at the tennis courts that night…no Friday drinking or carousing for me. Laser focus…like the good old days. Oh to have something new and exciting to be Nervous about was exhilarating.

Normally i get my kids every Saturday at noon. I asked my ex-wife if she could keep them till Sunday. It would have been an expensive babysitter because we had to be at studio at 1:45 for the 4:00 show (and there was a party after). I was kidless for a Saturday. I went to the Dance Studio; hung out, we talked, we did another rehearsal. I felt much better!

Now when i say we had a dress rehearsal I should have said I HAD two dress rehearsals but my partner did not. Oksana wasn’t in her showcase outfit for either rehearsal. I did have to pick her up, so I was curious how that was going to go. When I see her dance outfit….I get those butterflies again. But these butterflies didn’t have spots…they had Hearts!!! Oh this WOMAN!!! Long Flowing peach Skirt and a Halter Top with ABS like a Fitness Model and Tight Tiny Arms with an Elbow that would cut you open. OH HOW ON EARTH DID I NOT GET INVOLVED IN DANCE IN JUNIOR HIGH AS I STARTED TO NOTICE GIRLS!!!

I get it together, but I am Nervous. I am first dance in the first act… We walk out. We dance. I KNOW IT! I DO IT! I step Right when I am supposed to. I step left when I am supposed to; I rise and fall as is the WALTZ. I nail the step that caused me to quit my run and practice in the tennis courts a few weeks ago. I time it right and we end the dance exactly as the music ends. I think I did well. We Bow…we walk out. She gives me a big HUG and says she is so proud of me. This woman has changed MY WORLD…and she is genuinely proud of me for a 2 minute waltz.

There was a dinner afterwards paid for by a VERY GENEROUS couple who were in the showcase as well. I go. There were about 40 people or so. I look around and realize that I have made so many new friends and now have new goals, new skills, and new dreams.

My divorce was official 13 months to the day of that Showcase. I will never forget that darkness in my heart. The darkness is gone. There have been a steady series of lights that have turned on in my heart to drive the darkness away, and that Dance Light is burning pretty bright right now!

The Beginning of the Craziness (early 2000s)

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If you are (or were) a team sport athlete (basketball, football, soccer, hockey, etc) you tend to remember games. You probably recall details of games that will stick with you (for good or bad) for years. I get together with old football buddies and we go over the exact play to win games or who missed an assignment at a key spot in 2nd quarter or how a missed free throw in 3rd quarter set us up for a big comeback. The sport of Track & Field is different. We dont talk as much about the actual races, jumps, or throws. Often it is the road trips, the tents full of team members that someone pushes a water pocket off and it ends up down someone’s back, or the restaurants we stop in after the meets that we end up talking about years later. We talk about the relationships that began or ended (often awkwardly) since we spend a lot of time together, the hotels, and the long drives.

And maybe it is just me that invites chaos or embraces chaos or is even attracted to chaos. But certainly being on my Track & Field teams is an opportunity for adventure.

It was my second or third year as a Head Boys’ and Girls’ (High School) Track & Field Coach when the Adventures started.

We went to Ohio State University for an Indoor Track & Field Meet. It was a friday night so it was well after 10pm when we were done. I took the team to dinner at 24 hour restaurant right in the heart of the University on High St. There were 12 of us, enough to fill a van.

So about 11:30 we leave the restaurant and go to the parking lot. As we approach the spot where we parked, there is a significant gap. No van, but definitely a sign saying Tow Away Zone-No Parking. How did i miss that?!? It was plain as day. It was dark though and I did back into the spot and I was managing 11 high school kids by myself…but HOW DID I MISS THAT?!?!

I am a big believer in Plan B, C, and D. I honestly don’t think plan A ever works so i am always ready to adjust. But i was a young, new coach then. Ok…”what do i do now, i thought?”. There was a phone number to call if vehicles were towed. I called it. It was impounded. The man gave me the address. It would be $100 to get it out and he said they were open 24 hours.

How do i get to this impound yard and what I do with these 11 kids? It was beginning of the cell phone age, so i had a cell number of one of my former track athletes who was a freshmen at OSU. I called him. He lived in The Towers.

I brought the team there, he lived pretty high up. On a Friday night in January, I dropped 2 freshman, 3 sophomores, and 4 juniors off in a College Dorm!

Our Alumnus had a car, so he drove me and two of my student-athletes to the address of the impound yard. It was in the dark outskirts of the city…like Escape from New York dark (you know the classic Kurt Russel film).

Dark, dingy, gated (do i need to mention the beware of the dog sign) was this impound yard. There was an office (do I need to mention the bullet proof glass). A man laying on a cot arises when we buzz in. I explain why I am there. He gets the paperwork and tells me $100. I go to put it my credit card in the exchange slot. “Cash only”, he tells me. Yep, plan C.

We leave the impound yard looking for an ATM. Anthony (perhaps my favorite athlete I’ve ever coached) said, “this is just like that movie Adventures in Babysitting!” Hmnn, i have always really liked Elizabeth Shue. And yes it was a lot like that movie. We find an ATM. I get the cash. We go back to the Impound yard. I pay the man. We walk through the Pipe Turnstyle Gate into the Yard. Lots of beat up cars, a few nice ones, and a white van. Whew!

Ok, next to rescue the rest of my team in the College dorm at now about 2am. We take the elevator up. All kinds of doors are open in the hallway and college kids are meandering in and out of rooms. We get to the room. They are all there playing video games and watching a movie. Again…WHEW! “Let’s Go, everyone,” i said.

We leave. We check into the hotel at about 3AM. I cant sleep. I take a bath because my adrenaline is still a bit high from the night. Little did i know that the adventures were just starting.

Plan A just never seems to work. Good thing i am always ready for Plan B.

The Journey (but we will start in the middle)!

My life is filled with Adventure. Obviously not James Bond adventure or Indiana Jones adventure, but my life is not boring! It got boring though for a time.

I am a single Dad. I get my kids (there’s 3) each sat at noon and we are a family till I drop them at school on Wednesday. I have adventures with them and when they go to their Mom’s my life becomes a bit surreal.

In another post I will fill you in on the me while married looking at himself in the mirror each night and each morning wondering if this is all there is in life (for the record, i did not want the divorce, did not ask for a divorce, and did all I could do to save my family-just way too late).

I decided to start this blog on my 44th birthday when I realized that my life is an adventure.

There are stories of what happens when I travel with my team, things that happen at my business, and when I am exploring life with my three kids. But the day I decided to start this blog is quite funny.

My business is somewhat unique in that we do a lot of varied things. We take fabric of various sort and make things. In this case we made a Winter Cover for an RV. It was a bright, beautiful November Day.

The customer gave me the address (as they hired us to install as well), and I set out with one of my athletes that I hired for the day. The customer warned me that the address was confusing. I didn’t necessarily believe her and relied on my phone (i rely on the phone GPS way too much…perhaps another blog on that later).The RV was on property overlooking the lake, and sure enough the address did not come up on my phone when (I felt) it should have.

There was an RV overlooking the lake about a 1/4 mile back. I went to check it out. It was next to The Twisted Cherry, a strip club…a very shady strip club. Upon inspection of said RV I noticed the licence plate was registered with as an Historic Vehicle. It seemed pretty beat up but that’s why they needed the cover, right?!? And the bluff overlooking the lake was stunning!

We set our ladders and began to install the cover. As the cover is just about on. My phone rings… it is the customer, “Where are you?”, he asks.

“Ummm, we are just done the road, I think. We are by the Twisted Cherry.”

“Ok”, he says, “you are about a mile away.”

Uh oh!!!

My only thought is what is this trailer next to the shady Twisted Cherry actually used for…and who might be in there at this moment while I am on top of it.

We quickly pulled the cover off the trailer and threw it in the truck unfolded. We drove down the street where the customer was waiting by the road. The bluff overlooking the lake is similar but more scenic. The RV is same size but cleaner, nicer.

He sees the cover all ragtag in back of truck. “What happened?”, he asks.

“Uh, we ran into a bit of trouble. All good though.”

We got the cover on. It looked great. The view over Lake Erie was amazing. My assistant was a bit awed as he didn’t realize (he is from FL) the Great Lakes were like Oceans.

We leave, we pass by the Twisted Cherry, and we laugh. I think to myself. My life is full of stories just like this! I need to write this stuff down.

So I will.