Monday, August 18, 2008

It's not about the job...

"You are a baddass. Be the baddass." Yours Truely


My former father-in-law is a baddass.

He knew what he wanted in life and he worked all day every day to get it.

When he graduated from high school he drove a truck at night and worked at a gas station during the day.

He somehow convinced Ginny Rademacher, the prettiest girl in Westphalia, Michigan to be his bride.

(He'd be the first one to tell you a little bit of luck doesn't hurt in the least).

Early in their marriage he took a job building cars at Oldsmobile and figured out pretty quick that that was not his cup of tea. I think he lasted three days.

He had managed to save up a thousand dollars, and when he quit 'the Olds' and got himself a gig selling pots and pans door to door, he said, "Ginny, when that thousand dollars is gone, I'm gonna have to get a job."

That thousand dollars has been earning interest since about 1952. (Compound interest. Make no mistake.)

Oh man. That guy could sell.

But don't think for a minute he was only a salesman. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...but there was more to Gib Simon than selling stuff.)

In his spare time, he built a house. (He didn't hire sombody to build a house, he built the damn house.) Then he sold it and built another one. Then he built a couple of more houses and sold those too. About that time some sharp real estate guy talked him into getting his real estate license and Gibber talked a couple of people into letting him sell their houses. It wasn't too long before he got so busy selling houses that he had to quit his job selling pots and pans so he could sell houses all the time. (You know, when he wasn't building houses.)

He got his brokers license and hired some salespeople and opened an office. Then he hired some more salespeople and he developed some land and he kicked him some real estate ass! A bunch of sales people, three or four offices and a very success life in business.

And he loved every minute of it.

And the funniest thing, he made friends the whole time along the way. Lot's of people get to where they are by taking it from some one else. That wasn't ol' Gibbers cup of tea either. (Understand, if there's a dollar bill on the table, you're gonna have to take some time and prove to Gib that it isn't his. But if it isn't, there's never any bad feelings from him about it. He's happy to earn it.)

He was a business man during his working life. Business made sense to him. He understood it. He loved it. He had a passion for it.

He tried for years to get me to understand business, "It's easy, Douger. You got so much coming in and so much going out and what's left is yours!"

I liked Gib so I pretended to get it. It seemed simple enough, but I was lacking that essential business gene. Frankly, I sold a lot of stuff too, but I was never much of a salesman either. I was an actor. I acted like a salesman, (and that will get you down the road a piece), but I lacked that inner drive for the dough. My favorite part about sales was it gave me a steady supply of audience that hadn't heard my jokes. Pathetic. I was always about the love, and I tell you right now, the love's important. But I have found that it doesn't pay the bills. Not on time, anyway.

I could go on for days about Gib Simon: His strong Catholic faith. His undying work ethic. His ill-fated attempts to master golf. His basement workshop and woodworking hobby. His damned stubborn German bull-headedness. Slide-butt gin rummy; dandelion wine; his love for his family....

It's a common mistake for people to measure someone like Gib by the comfortable life he's made and the thickness of his wallet.

The wallet might have been a gift. But he had to fill it himself.

But the thing that's made Gib Gib is that he's had the testicular fortitude to take a risk and to believe that he could do something better. He didn't settle for pumping gas. (Again, nothing wrong with pumping gas. But don't be a gas pumper unless you love pumping gas. Or if it's gonna get you where you're looking to go.) He reached beyond his own grasp. He's conducted himself like a man, man.

So dude, what's the deal? You're writing about your ex father-in-law?? How's your girlfriend feel about that?

I'm not worried about it. I've been divorced a long time, and my girlfriend's a baddass, too.

But ol' Gibber's had some health issues lately. Oh, he's 'sitting up and taking nourishment' as I know he'd say. But he's not well. He might take kindly to a kind thought or a little prayer. (Expecially a good Catholic prayer, if you know one). And before I asked a bunch of people who don't know him to think a good thought for him or say a little prayer for him, (and believe me, he's invested enough prayers for other people over the years), I figured it would help you do that if you knew who he is.

He's a baddass. He's the happiest man in America, Emeritus.

Trust me. It's worth your time....
I've quoted thus before, but it's good to see it again:

This excerpt from Terry Pratchett's wonderful novel "Moving Pictures", (quoted from Ginger, former milk maid and budding starlet on her desire to be the most famous person in the world)

"...the greatest tragedy in the whole word is all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they're really good at. It's all the sons who become blacksmiths because their fathers were blacksmiths. It's all the people who could be really fantastic flute players who grow old and die without ever seeing a musical instrument, so they become bad ploughmen instead. It's all the people with talents who never even find out. Maybe they are never even born in a time when it's even possible to find out....It's all the people who never get to know what it is they can really be. It's all the wasted chances."

"It Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing". Duke Ellington



Laura said...

this was beautiful! You have a gift for prose, really! I will say a Hail Mary for him, k?



dA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
More Love Seminars said...

Thanks Dad! Very sweet and loving, I really appreciate your kind, genuine words. Go Grandpa Gibber!!
Love you,

oops, it posted, signed by you. I couldn't fix it, so I'm reposting it.

Anonymous said...

I will pray for the Gibber too.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Doug for Grandpa Gibs story. I'm going to print it out and share it with the kids. It's so great for them to learn about their family history.

Keep it coming

Anonymous said...

You former father-in-law sounds like an awesome guy. After reading your blog I have to believe he became so successful because he cared more about the people than the money. That's the way to do it. He will be remembered in my thoughts and prayers. They won't be 'Catholic' thoughts and prayers, but I bet they will work just as well.

Greg L

Matt Bowler said...

I have this little card in the top drawer of my desk that reads ~
Cover "The Secret to Success"
Open it ~ "Go to Work"
Gib gave it to me many moons ago.

My favorite Gib Quote of all time.
Someone asks Gib -
"Gib, How are you doing?"
Reply "I don't buy green bananas."

Thank you Doug for sharing the post with me. Your blog is tits.

Matt Bowler

Jim Simon said...


Thanks for the very kind words for Dad. He is such a very special person and you did a wonderful job putting it to words.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

Man I really love the way you write pops. That was really, really good. The Gibber would be touched. I absolutely loved it.