Delaval was a breath of fresh air. There were hundreds of employees. I don’t know the total, but I know there were enough of them that I did not meet them all. There were two shifts. Maybe 500 or so employees. I really do not know. It was a far cry from the two man shop I had been part of. There was a steady salary that I did not have to worry about whether there would be a payday. There were benefits as well. Penny worked in the office. It as a good set-up for me. I became a machinist. This was my third trajectory change in three years. I finished Hardees as a Production Supervisor, then became an apprentice electrician for two years and now I was a machinist for Delaval. I didn’t necessarily see the pattern back then, but I was not finding the security and career I was looking for. I did like Delaval however. It was a good fit.
I’m sure I would have worked there indefinitely. I remember telling Cal Pearson in the fall of 1985 that I loved my job and could not see myself doing anything else for the rest of my life, but if there was ever a day when I got frustrated, discontented or tired of what I was doing then I would walk away. I had been a Christian for about 1 year and had no idea what God was doing in my heart and the direction he was about to send me. I do remember that it was about a month or two after I made that bold statement that my heart began to grow discontent. And it did in a big way. There was a growing discontentment in my heart and it was not going to be abated. It was strong and it gained such surprising momentum that it blew me off course and in direction I was not prepared for and never would have remotely considered. More on that later.
There were about 10 guys or so on our team. Greg Smith, David Russian, Joe Barrett, Ricky Price, Joe Mullis, Liston Darby, Cal Pearson, Ken Griffin, Ken Pressley, Donny somebody and a few others. It was a good group. I think we all liked one another. We did get along. I don’t remember any skirmishes with anyone. There was some frustration with the management from time to time. Liston was the easiest to get along with. Joe Barrett was a supervisor that was difficult to get along with. He was a Yankee, like Liston and Cal, but he had an angry edge to him. He was impatient and opinionated in the wrong kind of ways. We butted heads: it takes one to know one. Cal came across mean and condescending. He seemed aloof and didn’t mind telling you if you were doing a bad job. He didn’t work with you, just argued and fussed a lot and then walked away. He was the most feared of all the bosses. Ricky was passive and not too communicative. He was challenging to work with, but not a bad boss. He was hard to read and we didn’t become best buddies. I’m can be aloof as well and not attempting to be liked, which was my way of protecting myself. I had very little social skill.