One Stone at a Time

The warm summer sun painted our neighborhood with the pastel colors of the fragrant flowers, contrasting the neatly manicured lawns in shades of bluegrass and clover green. My parents sat on their lawn chairs on our front porch, each with a bottle of Coca-Cola in their hand. My Dad was listening to his transistor radio, with George Kell and Ernie Harwell calling the play by play of his beloved Detroit Tigers. My Mom watered her flowers from her chair, and every once and a while lifted the hose to spray me as I played in the shallow drainage ditch in front of our house. The blanket of pea gravel was irresistible to a three-year-old.

I dragged a five gallon pail and a Dixie cup into my makeshift playground. With focused determination, I commenced to fill the pail, one Dixie cup load at a time until it reached the brim. I can still recall the laughter and reaction from my parents as I pulled on the handle, trying with all of my might to drag the pail out of the ditch. My Dad’s cigar fell out of his mouth (from his laughter) as he poured my handiwork out of the pail, suggesting that I try a smaller load-¦stating that a five gallon pail was too much for a “little guy” like me.

I dragged the empty pail around the back of my Dad’s 1959 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon, and headed back to my “work” in the ditch. I’m sure that my parents assumed that I had abandoned the larger pail, and limited myself to the Dixie cup. They both giggled periodically as I walked around the back of the Station Wagon, carrying one cup at a time.

My parent’s attention drifted a bit, listening as Al Kaline hit a home run to win the game, and talking to our next door neighbor who had meandered from his yard to talk baseball, and politics. My Mom eventually realized that she had not seen me for a while, and asked my Dad to check on me. After all-”I had been carrying my Dixie cup around the back of the Station Wagon, and most likely had a pile of pea gravel sitting there. Mere words cannot describe the look on my Dad’s face as he watched me pour the last cup of pea gravel into the gas tank of his shiny black 1959 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon!

In recollecting this childhood experience, I now realize its’ significance. Steadfast determination and a good work ethic are important, however, thinking the process through and planning your actions is just as important. At three-years-old, how was I to know the pea gravel did not belong in the gas tank? I had watched my Dad fill the tank countless times. Too often we do things “because we’ve always done it this way” without questioning the action or considering alternatives. Others may follow our lead, and work with the best of intentions, however, expending wasted effort or experiencing lack of results in the process. If we take the time to clearly communicate our goals and objectives, develop a plan (with input from the individuals involved), and monitor the process, we will be poised for success. If my parents had monitored the process of their curly-haired three-year-old, the result would have been quite different.

Mountains DO Move-¦ One Stone at a Time. -” Motivational quote by Rick Beneteau

John W. Bul, CMRP, is commercial manager, Webasto Roof Systems Inc.- Michigan Operations. He can be reached at [email protected].