Barbells For Frogs

Over the course of 92 years a machine shop gathers a lot of stories, and a lot of nicknames. They tell me that my great grandfather was known as “Whitey”. My grandfather was Dute, dad is Dutie, and one of our steel suppliers tried to slap me with the handle, Duté (rhymes with okay), but I have refused to let that one stick. We’ve currently got a Hook, a Fluffy, and a Meathead. We’ve also had Guapo, Highpockets, Skeeter, The Hog, Hamburglar, Big Turtle, Little Turtle, and Micro Turtle (also occasionally known as Princess, but that’s another story), and probably dozens more I don’t know about. Some of the parts we have run got nicknames too. There were the “Batwings”,

and my personal favorite, the aptly named “Barbells For Frogs”.

Many years back, one of our longest-term employees was assigned to an ongoing job milling the ends of motor mounts (hey, that’s another one, there was one style motor mount called the “Double Bubble” but I couldn’t find one of those to show you), and he took his performance on this job very seriously. It was a matter of pride, and apparently that pride was expressed quite a lot, more than folks cared to hear in fact. He always reported the exact same number of parts done every day. I don’t know the specific number, but it was a big round number like 2000 so let’s roll with that. There was a parts counter attached to the machine that indexed every time the machine cycled. Dad thought it was unlikely that he actually achieved the exact same daily production, not 2001, or 1997, or 2042, but always exactly 2000, so he asked our proud employee if that was right.

“Oh, yes Mr. Hyland! I get you 2000 pieces every day! You can count on it!” he proudly replied.

So, the next day dad rolled his parts counter back a little bit at lunch time to see if he still got 2000 and, sure enough, he did!

So, the following day dad rolled his parts counter back A LOT at lunch time and guess what? 2000.

Now this is the place where you’d expect to hear a motivational management metaphor about how “you’re better than even YOU know”, or criticize him for “not really giving 100%”, but I’m skipping that because I know this guy, he worked for Hyland for decades and he always made coming to work a lot more fun. I just wish I could have seen his face when dad told him what he had done. I’m told they just laughed so much about it and he said he had been so worried and couldn’t understand why he had to work so hard to get to his 2000 those couple days and he’d been sweating and trying to work so fast to get there. I’m sure it was hilarious, and I wish I had been there to enjoy it!

It’s a rare privilege to have such a long history and so many wonderful characters and stories to cherish and share. If you’re fortunate enough to work somewhere like that, be grateful and proud! I know that I certainly am!

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