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There's still life in the 'Old Dog' yet
by Colin
2007-04-20 07:44:55
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There are many hackneyed sayings that could apply to me at the moment: There’s still life in the ‘Old Dog’ yet, you can’t teach an ‘Old Dog’ new tricks, the grass is greener, there’s a big wide world out there and life begins at 40 (OK I’m over 50), to name but a few. The fact is, I am going to be the new boy in the office for the second time in 41 years and all those sayings are very apt. Why, you may ask? Well, that dreaded word that is all too common in British Industry these days, redundancy, has finally caught up with me.

You might also question as to why I will be the new boy for only the second time in 41 years of continued employment! The reason is that I have worked at my present company for 40 years and 10 months. In today’s society, that would probably go against you when seeking new employment and many people look at me strangely when I tell them. I wonder how many people who read this will have worked nearly their entire working life for just one employer.

I can recall an occasion when I purchased a new TV under hire purchase and when asked three questions…how long have I worked at my present job, how long have I lived where I lived, and how long have I banked where I bank……..the answer to all the questions was then, over 30 years. The sales assistant looked up and said “consistent then?” when she probably meant, "Boring (eh Clint?)."

I signed up for a draughtsman’s apprenticeship with ‘Lec Refrigeration’, in my home town, way back in the year that the late Bobby Moore hoisted the ‘Jules Rimet’ trophy aloft……..1966. British industry was then heading towards a very profitable period. Lec boasted some 2,000 employees that year. I can remember my first day as though it were yesterday. There I was, a young, spotty youth decked out in a brilliant white lab coat, that actually had ironed creases in it. That was the first and last time I allowed my mother near it.

In days gone by, apprentices who joined manufacturing/ engineering companies had to undergo initiation ceremonies and rites that would make today’s school leavers run home to mummy or better still, call the police. I’m certainly not condoning what happened then and in fact, some of the things that happened would today result in at least a suspension, if not instant dismissal. The tricks attempted on me back then, would scar today’s apprentices for life. Certain rites of initiation involved parts of the male anatomy that are best left in one's trousers and tubes of ‘Engineers Blue’.

As the decades passed, British industry started to struggle, especially the one in which my career had progressed. My company originally manufactured both domestic and commercial refrigerators and freezers. Lec made simple domestic models found in yours or my kitchen, to highly sophisticated commercial products found in hospitals, on aeroplanes and in scientific establishments. We made the models other companies turned down. As more and more cheap foreign imports started to flood our home markets, Lec had to lay off some workers for the first time in its history.

I survived that redundancy of over 500 personnel. It was then, in 1994, that a Malaysian consortium bought Lec out and I then worked for Sime Derby Berhad. They kept the company for approximately 11 years and sold out to GDHA, whose headquarters were based in Ireland, a company that owned other white goods manufactures such as Stoves, Morphy Richards, etc. By now there had been another two spates of redundancies and the work force was down to a mere few hundred. By the beginning of this year, the work force consisted of just fewer than 100 employees, of which half were agency workers, most of whom were Russian, Polish or Czechs.

At the age of 57, I have had to look for a new job and undergo the harrowing interviewing process. I have seen many co-workers of my age struggle to get to an interview, let alone a job, because of their age, although the Government will tell you age doesn’t matter; believe me it does. I have been rather fortunate and acquired a new job as a CAD draughtsman in a Stonemasons company, mainly working on stone restoration. Therefore I am hoping that there is life in the ‘Old Dog’ still, they can teach an ‘Old Dog’ new tricks, the grass is going to be greener, there is a big wide world out there waiting for me and, in my case, life begins at 57.

The moral, if there is one, is don’t despair………someone out there maybe looking for your particular skills, even if you are nearing senior citizenship.

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Clint2007-04-21 12:00:38
Great piece, great ending for a great bloke and very touching but don't sell the movie rights Brad Pitt would never take the lead role. Did your Mum put a crease in your Levis as well?... mind you I'm in deep shock I thought you were much much older than that!!!

Asa2007-04-21 21:37:48
So what does it actually feel like to be the new boy again?

Colin2007-04-23 10:27:44
Clint ol' boy....if you had grafted as much as me over the years then it would have taken a toll on you too.

As for being the new baoy again, I am starting to feel a little nervous.....I hope the inititiation rites are less harrowing these days.

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