View Full Version : Wasted minds???

05-01-2008, 10:28 AM
I posted the other thread and showed some more work the gurl did in my shop.
After talking about it for a bit I got to thinking about "wasted minds".
This young lady (shes 30 now)came to work for me as a housekeeper at the motel five years ago.
She was soon promoted to the front desk clerk position.
After several years.. I was working on the office heater one day when she asked me if I'd teach her how to repair the wiring on these things.... that lead to showing her how to repair the dryer, then the broken door locks etc.
Then she came to the shop one day to pick up her son... that lead to her interest in welding.
Her (sorta cuz I really don't know all) background.. I don't think she ever gradutated high school. Worked as a houskeeper, a waitress and spent a fair amount of time working as a server in the bars. Lived on the "rough side" of life.
I started her working in my shop a little over a year ago.... she knew zilch about any of this stuff.
Today she is on the doorstep of running my fab/machine shop. Brilliant girl!
But who knew?
By some kind of weird accident.. I really think she's now doing what she was put on earth to do.
That makes me wonder... how many people are out there doing humdrum work... just slogging along... when their true potential is lurking under the surface and most likely will never be discovered.
This girl here... that would have been a real waste of a truly great mind. Someone missed the boat with her when she was younger.
So how many other people are out there like that?
This has been a learning experience for me. I look at people differently now. You just never know... the guy/girl you are talking to.. a hohum life they lead. Never going to make much of themselves in life.. well what "if".
I guess it all comes down to the darts that life throws at you and some kind of fate thing. I've always believed that I determined my fate.. what I learned, what I did.
Now I wonder... seems a shame that more people can't be "discovered".
No clue how to do that... just wondering out loud.

05-01-2008, 11:15 AM
There is a lot of people in this world who haven't and probably never will reach their full potential because it seems no one or very few today are willing to take the time or give someone a chance.

Sounds like to me you have a keeper.

05-01-2008, 11:34 AM
I think it is all about having the gift and the will. As long as somebody has both, then exposure is unavoidable. I mean just look at your story... ;)

05-01-2008, 11:41 AM
Just when I was ready to give up on the
idea that there were any decent people left in the world, you post this gem!
Talk about rough as a cob with a heart of gold.

IIRC you took her son under your wing a while ago and spent much time guiding him
onto the straight and narrow.
This brought you in closer contact with his mother and the rest is history.

This is proof that "what you sow so shall you reap" is a good guide for living.

Gramps ( a 79 yr. old Curmudgeon)

oil mac
05-01-2008, 12:00 PM
I believe everyone somewhere has a guardian angel, who directs them in life, The angel sent you to guide the young woman onto what she was good at & put on earth to do, She recognised the thing she was programmed to do other dissolute types dont even take what path life sent for them to follow Thanks for helping her in this life, The world needs more Torkers.

sid pileski
05-01-2008, 12:08 PM
Russ- Give your self a pat on the back too. You took the time to show intrest,
and she took the time to learn. Good deal both ways.
Some times later in life is when you are mature enough to do things you could not do before.
I had two similar situations with young boys. The first was kind of trouble around the house, smart mouth usual things. I caught him once wacking my mailbox with a bat. But then he kind of started hanging around, and showed some interest in things. I took the time to show him things and kept him on the hook for his actions. (good and bad). Eventually he went on to college. His mother still thanks me.
The second kid was a lot better attitude wise, but no dad in his life, two sisters, mom had to work. He too showed interest and I took him in, so to speak.
He is finishing college this year with a EE degree.
My only regret is that my oun 12yr old son shows no interest in anything I do.
Go figure! Maybe he will fiigure out that Dad really does no something.
But I think that's the way that goes. We all did it.

Keep up the teaching, and believing!


05-01-2008, 12:58 PM
It's a strang world out there. When a kid (or an adult for that matter) is given a felt need to learn something happens. Not sure what it is that happens but it does. Where I'm going with this is a story I recall from a readers digest and a movie they made of a high school math teacher in So. Cal. His students were all from the wrong side of the tracks so to speak. He challenged and respected these kids and ALL of them developed a deep passion for math. The all ended up with the highest calculus test scores that could be measured (or something like that) and they though he was cheating the exam board. They later concluded that was not the case Well this ledgend came and whent. Talk about wasting natural resources. This should have been looked at more carefully than any thing else in the history of our country. IMHO. Was it just the respect ??? Glad to make your aquaintance torker

05-01-2008, 11:32 PM
Russ!!! Good for her and good for you. It must make you proud. But be careful man or you soon mite be working for her. ;) By the way, did the gurl ever finish mounting those lights on the mill??

Bob Ford
05-01-2008, 11:53 PM

It usually takes someone to start the fire (you). Then they are warm all over with the need to learn more. You treated the Gurl with respect. Probably the first person to do so, she has great potential and I hope she continues to climb higher in her achievements.
Uncle Torker has good reason to be proud!

05-01-2008, 11:55 PM
I learned never to judge a book by it's cover.Some of the worst most degenerate SOB's I have ever met have been well dressed and college educated.

I know a kid right now who is having hell with his parents.They say he is rebeling because he wants to learn machining and mechanical work rather than go to school and be white collar like they want.To hear his folks talk it sounds like he's smoking dope.Sad part is he has the knack for it and would make a damn good machinist.

05-01-2008, 11:55 PM
Thanks guys! LOL! I need to watch that wasted mind stuff... was out on my TY250 trials bike tonight for a bit. Was thinking about business while trying to ride and crashed.. got a big geezuz lump on my knee now and am hoppin once again :D
Good thing the gurl will be here in the morning...lol!
Been thinking about this post a bit today. I think Sid summed it up.. I did take an interest but she also showed an interest by asking how to do things.
She also has the strong will to work all these long hours and do all the other things in her life.
I guess that's what seperates her from the others who could do better for themselves.
Ernie... geez... ya we use the lights all the time on the mill. I ummm... haven't posted any more pics yet... been too busy to tidy up the wiring really neat like you did. Had a problem with the rear light. the way it cast in the middle made an ugly shadow. Tilted it way back just to get it out of the way quick and I'll be darned it the light didn't reflect off the shiny round column right into the middle of the tool center!! It's great! Thanks again for the good idea!

doctor demo
05-02-2008, 12:40 AM
Russ, I think you are a good guy. Not every one has the ability to teach , and not everyone has the ability to learn. It sounds like you and the ''gurl'' make a good team.

Paul Alciatore
05-02-2008, 02:39 AM
The real tragedy is the untold numbers who never even attempt to reach their potential. Some are discouraged at an early age by whatever circumstances. Some are distracted later in life. Some are just plain lazy. But just think of the wonders we might see today if everyone had reached their true potential in the past. We would be past the stars now.

Education is the key. And I mean good teachers, not the typical ones who actually turn the students off. I was always a bit of a geek. I loved science and math. Couldn't stand subjects like history when I was in school. Imagine my surprise when I discovered how interesting history actually is. But the idiots only wanted to teach me to parrot back the dates that everything happened. They are prabably still doing that. Any history teacher that asks for even a single date on a test should be drawn and quartered (simply shooting them is far too little). And similar things happen in all subjects.

05-02-2008, 07:19 AM
If she ever decides shorter winters are more appealing I will send driving directions and maybe even some gas money! She can move right into the mess I call a shop and the house I rattle around in!


05-02-2008, 11:25 AM
If she ever decides shorter winters are more appealing I will send driving directions and maybe even some gas money! She can move right into the mess I call a shop and the house I rattle around in!

Psssttt... Mark...Mark...Wake up!!!! Wake up!!! You're dreaming ;)

05-02-2008, 01:03 PM
russ,the world needs more people like you.it is a good thing you have done (helping someone with an interest)and we should all strive to help someone that truly deserves it.

05-02-2008, 04:09 PM
Great post. Interesting story and perspective. It reminded me of a post i saw on one of the other forums discussing hiring people just out of school. One of the guys said that he never hires someone right out of school, "...they ain't gonna get trained on my dime..." or something similar. While I can understand where he is coming from in a strict "dollars and cents" sort of way, the flip side is that he is very likely never discover one of these sorts of people, like you have. It won't always happen, and sometimes you get burned, but when it does, it is both impressive and satisfying. Good for you both.


05-02-2008, 04:38 PM
Russ, I can honestly say that your postings and updates on this young lady's progress and accomplishments have been some of my favorite readings here. They have been truly heart warming, as well as educational, and I hope you'll continue to share them with us, since obviously many others feel the same.

I never gave it much thought in my early years, but over time thru life it becomes apparent that things like attitude, determination, desire, etc. are FAR more important than innate intelligence or natural ability in achievement. And that hardship and struggle does in fact make one stronger. Most of us are actually victims of too easy experience, and would have been better served by more challenge and adversity.

I wish the very best to that lady (and to you), and salute you both.


05-02-2008, 07:35 PM
I grew up with a mentor like your folks are describing.

He owned a garden center and had his own greenhouses. Guy born and raised as a kid 'in the old country'. Iit was a family owned business and his two son-in-laws and their wives also worked there.

From the time I was 14 till I got out of high school he had us doing all kinds of manual labor( like emptying out a boxcar filled with bales of peatmoss several times a year), shoveling dirt (tandem dump after tandem dump in the summer) building large greenhouses, boiler making, building a big house addition, salesmen, running the place by ourselves when business was real slow.

Maintained all our own equipment, did plumbing, electrical, you name it and we did it (under his and his son-in-laws supervision/help).

We learned what hard work was and learned how to be self sufficient in life. To this day I thank that man (and his family) for their wisdom and guidance.

05-02-2008, 08:33 PM
Good job!!!!!

I can somewhat relate, been teaching "wasted minds" ending nineteen years now for kids and 16 for adults. Many a young man or lady who has been cast off by the Ed system as a "problem child" or just - I hate this label -dull or uninterested in "education" - or as i say - the "standard" model of education.

Many adults I have taught over the years who have taken advantage of my 'sneaking them in" because they do not qualify for various gubbermint programs for the very poor or umemployed, but make too much to afford the class. Many a Walmart or Kmart employee or a low level cleaning person in a shop who just wants a "leg up". People we look at and smirk about, the cashier, the cart gatherer, the busser at a macs.

The ones I help like this always pay me back.

I learned a great lesson in life this past few months. Over the past year, I have gone through some very tough personal times. Not divorce, legal or health/abuse problems, but tough times all could see. Many people supported me during this time, but there was some support that got me through when it all culminated and when I was at my lowest point about three months ago. It was the most meaningful support I could ever have.

I can walk into a shop in a 50 mile radius and find someone I have trained, right through management by this time in life. I kind of forgot to visit my friends for the past year and 1/2, but when all was said and done, it seems my phone rang from these people - the "wasted minds" who are now the brightest people I could ever know - who have exceeded my own machining and industrial knowledge - or those who are working well and successfully - those who just wished me well and invited me to come see them, and came out to find me. When I wanted to hide, they pulled me out and gave me more than I think they ever gave me. People I had all but lost track of for years, trainees, those living well because of a small time and faith investment because - well, this is just what is done - that is all, that is the job done right.

For Russ, you are doing well. She will always remember and will repay you in ways you will never know. Small things become great things. I have always known this in my own "smug" way, but then realized it when all my smugness was stripped away and all that was left was those who I taught and whom I invested a little faith in (as a habit of life) when others would not.

Tim Clarke
05-02-2008, 09:06 PM
Russ: well, you never know where life will take ya. I think that most people are exposed to many things in their lives. Some take advantage of the oportunities that come along, some ignore them. I have tried to do the best with what has come my way. I guess I'm the only one who can judge how I've done. Mom wanted me to have a college education, and be a businessman, or such. But my Dad was a good carpenter, and had he lived a little longer, I'd have followed in his footsteps, and likely taken over his construction business when he was ready to retire. It's the same mechanical ability, making and fitting parts together. So now I've been a diesel mechanic for 35 years or so. Also a home shop type for even longer. I'll put my knowledge up against anyones bachelor's degree. Many who post here are very knowledgeable, weather or not they have any formal paperwork. So, it's great that the gurl is doing fine, but really, it's only natural that she find the thing she's suited for. Knowledge comes easily if you're suited to the subject and have reasonable intelligence.Best of luck to both of you.

Regards, TC

05-03-2008, 11:16 AM
Wasted minds. Don't get me started. My oldest son is a perfect example. A straight A student, after his first semester in college he decided to switch majors to something easier. He didn't want to apply himself.

Maybe it worked out for the best. Time will tell. He eventually wound up teaching third grade for many years and now he's teaching sixth. Perhaps his mentoring will shape many lives for the better.

Then there's the neighbor girl next door. Barely an average student through twelve grades, she got married right out of high school and gave birth to four kids as fast as they could come.

But, when she got away from the influence of her high school peers, she experienced an intellectual awakening and curiousity drove her to take a few university courses. She surprised herself by getting straight A's, so she switched to full time.

She graduates this weekend and she is mainlined to continue her studies until she gets her PhD.

My son and the neighbor girl were unduly influenced by the attitudes of their peers. One never will realize his full potential. The other will.


John Lawson
05-03-2008, 02:29 PM
Aw, SHUP. I have a mother-in-law to remind me what an enormous failure in life I am. (ROFL)

Norman Atkinson
05-03-2008, 03:01 PM
Thank you. The words are somewhat changed and perhaps simpler now.
They are carved in stone to remind the world of a forgotten Army- and a forgotten bunch of airmen in a more recent war.

Might I repeat them and the words of an Australian Pilot who flew unarmed DC3 to tend the survivors?
Frank Johnson wrote of those days as a jungle pilot as follows
For me the Squadron was a family, such as my school, my university and my own family. It was a body of persons with common objectives and faults, and I cherish my sojourn there.
Of the forgotten army, the epitaph is clear on that Kohima Stone
'When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrows, we gave our todays'

The other Norman

05-03-2008, 07:24 PM
First off great thread it has really made me think. I've known some really sharp people in the trades who had some type of learning disability or another. They were pushed toward shop classes, who knows what they could have been. Now days they realize kids learn in different ways.

Most of us are actually victims of too easy experience, and would have been better served by more challenge and adversity.

That sums up much of what is wrong in the US today. I am almost ashamed of myself when compared to my Grandpa. Born in a sod house, spoke only German until grade school, the first in his family to finish high school, did all sorts of hard migrant labor during the Great Depression, rose to "lead" lumberjack and then welding instructor in the shipyards during WWII, moved back to SD & farmed and spent the last 20 years of his life housebound with emphysema (shipyard asbestos) and heart problems. I never heard him once complain and he was a very sharp self-educated man. Yeah, I've had it easy.

Orrin-IMHO, maybe being a teacher is your son's best use of his abilities. I would say that grade & high school teachers make more of a contribution to society than a lot of other professions. I have to wonder sometimes about PhD who spend their lives on some narrow aspect of their field. Is it making the most of their potential to studying the mating habits of chimps or if Shakespeare really wrote his plays?

05-04-2008, 12:52 AM
Torker.......sometimes, the best education does not come from a classroom. It comes from leadership, listening and sharing ideas. And then there are times, when the student, in their hunger for knowledge, teach the teacher. As much as you have taught her about , heaters, locks, and welding....she has taught you that sharing your knowledge and genuinely caring, can have a profound impact.....on the student and teacher. You taking the time to write your post is evident of that.
What a great story....thanks for sharing it. It made my day:D


05-05-2008, 11:05 PM
I have tried for the last month or so since I joined this forum to remember the exact machining procedure I was teaching in high school but it really doesn't matter, the outcome is what's important. They were all machining a project and one student was following a different sequence from the one I had laid out. When I asked him why he was doing it that way he said he thought it was quicker and easier than the way I had outlined. When I followed his reasoning, damn, it was a better method. Instead of blowing my stack I called the rest of the students over and we showed them his improved method. Of course he got extra brownie points for his insight. When you know you're right it aint always necessarily so. We can learn from anybody. Peter;)