Since it’s Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to post something related to Dad’s long relationship with the Teamsters. Dad was a proud union member for most of his adult life. And Dad certainly served the Teamsters well, by being so loyal, dependable and hard-working.
So it was not much of a surprise that he had kept every one of his union due receipts from over the years. In the middle of all of those yellowed receipts, I came across his Teamsters identification card.
When I think about Dad and the things he most closely identified with, being Irish and being a Teamster certainly rise to the top.
As I’ve mentioned before, Dad was always a blue-collar worker, and proud Teamsters member. I stumbled upon this photo of dad posing with a group of his co-workers. (Dad is second from the right.)
Dad looks pretty handsome as he was probably in his late 40’s or early 50’s when this photo was taken. He kept his dark shock of hair for quite a long time, only allowing Mom to “touch it up” when he retired a decade or so later.
Dad posing with his trucking buddies. (He’s second from the right.)
At one time, Dad could have named every buddy in this photo. Now they are just faces in a photograph, many probably deceased like my father. Often we bond so closely with co-workers, only to drift apart as we move along in life. It’s all part of the process, but I see my dad as a strong, vital man in this photo and wish it could all be real once again.
After dad lost his job, it took almost a year for him to find new work. He never went back to the trucking industry, as he was getting to the age where he was passed over for younger guys with stronger muscles. He didn’t have any formal job training before he became a Teamster. I know he was a bellhop for awhile in New York City.
So like it is for many Americans right now, it was tough for dad to find another job. He was middle-aged, with only a high school diploma and unskilled in any kind of trade. It was a huge blow to his ego, because while dad may not have been the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he was always a hard worker who provided for his family. He had always been able to find stable jobs with the Teamsters but they pushed him into an early retirement.
Dad floundered over the next several months. He was a worker and now he had no work. He also didn’t have a great deal of hobbies, other than reading. And one can only read so much. I’m sure he went into a depression, as many long-term unemployed people experience.
I’m not sure how the security guard position came up. It was at a trucking company called Rolling Thunder. He may have heard about the job through a former co-worker. At any rate, he got the job. He was unarmed, but was given an official uniform, which he was proud to wear. His job was to let the trucks and other vehicles in and out of the facility. He spent most of his time in the “guard shack,” a small structure that allowed him to sit and listen to the radio, and eat his lunch in between duties.
I’m guessing it was a pretty lonely job, but he was well liked by the truckers who would shoot the breeze with him. He could also take smoke breaks whenever he wanted, and he did get some exercise by walking his rounds. The pay wasn’t much but it helped pay some bills and most importantly, made dad feel like he had a purpose in life again. At the time, I was embarrassed to say my dad was a security guard, because the position is often looked down upon. But now, I realize how important the job was to my dad, and how much it meant for him to provide for his family again. He was a good man.