Memorable Moments – #MondayBlogs

In my Industry, I’m thought of as a consultant.  I see myself as a teacher, still.  Many of you have asked about my Company Name – Learning Without Scars, LLC. In fact, several have told me learning with me is full of scars and the name is incorrect it should be Learning With Scars, LLC. Notwithstanding the naysayers we are trying to present a series of learning products that will allow the students to AVOID the slings and arrows and in fact the scars that I have endured.

My daughter, who is far more creative than I, has suggested we write an occasional epistle to expose some of those more memorable moments when I received scars during my passage in life in this Industry. So here goes. These are our Memorable Moments: scars I received while learning, that I can hopefully save you from receiving as well.

Most of you who know me have heard a lot of the stories of my upbringing and schooling and early work experiences before starting in this Industry. I started at Hewitt Equipment, the Caterpillar for Quebec and Labrador March 3rd, 1969. And it was a very strange happening.

I grew up in a relatively typical household. My Mother was a teacher and my Father was an engineering Technician. I spent the first three years of my life living with my Grandmother as a result of both parents working. Granny was a very special lady and I was very fortunate to have her guide me through the early years of my life. She got her Master’s Degree from the University of Manitoba in the early 1910’s. Needless to say she was a very talented lady.

I wasn’t much of a student at any point of the school path for whatever reason. I got involved with music early with the piano, clarinet and saxophone being the main instruments and until my voice changed I sang at church.

We lived mostly in duplexes in Montreal and escaped on the weekends to the Laurentians where we had a summer cottage on a lake. That was our escape from work. The city was for working and the country was for play. Some of my best memories are from the lake.

I was blessed to be able to start teaching athletics when I was 15 at a Country Club on the lake. So the country all of a sudden paid me money. Similarly the music got be to playing organ at a few churches on Sundays and at a restaurant/bar Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. I started in the restaurant bar when I was seventeen I think. As an employee I could be in the bar without risking arrest as I was underage but I was an employee. That was kind of cool. (I am sure my parents didn’t think it was very cool at all. I finished at 4:00 AM both Saturday and Sunday morning)

I went to Sir George Williams University in Montreal and followed a Mathematics and Physics major, with minors in Computer Science and Statistics. Unless you are going for multiple degrees that is much too focused and degree for commercial purposes. Because of my experiences in swimming and Country Club I was hired, during my third year of University at Sir George, to be the director of the water instruction program at McGill University across town. This was an evening program for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. So I was pretty busy when I was going to college. I also taught skiing on the weekends in the winter.

So school is over and it is time to get on with life and get a job. Well 1968 was a tough market for new graduates. In a way it was much like today. I was overqualified and under experienced for anything I wanted to do that was interesting. So I went back to the country and got a job at an institution called The Boys Farm and Training School.

This was a farm that my grandfather was instrumental in creating for “wayward youth.” I thought I could reconnect with my ancestors and get a job there and find out more about life while giving my bruised psyche a rest.

This was kind of fun. It was a group interview. Imagine if you will a group of people parading into a room with five people up front behind a long table and benches all along the outer walls of a room. I had never been to a group interview before and didn’t know either how they worked or what to do. So I reverted to self.

I was hired as a control figure and was given a house to manage. Our unit housed sixteen boys between the ages of 12 and 18, each of whom was incarcerated for a crime. There were no locks on any of the doors, other than my suite, so they boys could come and go as they pleased and before my first month was up they had all run away. That was the intent of the exercise. We were building an “intake” unit which was going to receive anyone sentenced to the Farm during which time they would be profiled and a treatment program determined for each of them. That was what my new job was to become. I tested and interviewed them all and determined their personality profiles and treatments programs in consultation with Psychologists and Psychiatrists. 

I worked from 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM daily and was on call overnight in the event of trouble. I had one day off every two weeks. It was a serious grind. One that I left after about six months with a very fragile mind. I am sure I came close to having a breakdown.

So I went skiing.

Then one day my Mother called telling me I had a call from a man named John Swift. I had taught two of his children at McGill and he wanted to talk with me.

That was the beginning of the end.


The time is now