In the fall of 1978, I dropped out of college after a lengthy seven week stay, and moved back home. The plan was to enroll at a local branch campus in the winter, but my dad was very clear, “If you’re going to do nothing you can’t do it here!” So I got a job at a junkyard. The joke was it paid a dollar per hour and all you could eat, but looking back on my time at this mecca of swill, there were lessons I will long remember.
1. There are good people everywhere. From the first day until my glorious final punch of the time clock there were several men who treated me well. Though I was much younger and came from a different world, Calvin, Hubert, Kenny and Big J.D. welcomed me with open arms. They could have ignored me or even been abusive, but instead they allowed me to become one of the guys.
2. Humility comes in many forms. During my stint at Folsom, oh I mean the junkyard, no one called me by my name. My grandfather had worked there for many years as a crane operator, though he had retired by the time I was hired. He had certainly left quite an impression and thus, my name was no longer Danny, it was “The Old Man’s kid”. When you spend day after day, week after week not knowing if anyone knows your name, it can be quite humbling.
3. Lessons are best learned the hard way. After a couple of months honing my craft of baling aluminum and paper, I went to the president of the company and asked if I could stay on the job after Christmas. Remember the original plan? Start back to school in the winter! In my mind everything had changed. I was making a few bucks and pulling my own weight in this world. College seemed like a waste of time. I dreamed of becoming the King of Trash! The president was an Ivy League graduate who asked me, “Is this really what you want to do?” “Oh yes”, I replied. He told me that I could work there as long as I wanted and would always have a job with him. Later that afternoon the President called me over the loud speaker and summonsed me to his office. “Danny, get the bat, go to the hill (a mountain of trash and metal taller than the building I worked in) and find as many radiators as you can.” What was the bat for? Rats!!!! All morning I slung radiators off the hill. In the middle of the stench, garbage and rats I realized that college was a pretty good option.
Pain got my attention. Sometimes God allows pain to come into our lives to teach us the greater good of our faith. If you have never went through the valleys of life how could you appreciate the goodness of His Grace?
In I Peter 1:7 it says “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
I was once asked if I wanted to be called Reverend, Pastor, Father or Brother? I so wanted to respond, just call me “The Old Man’s kid!”