Author’s note: David may still be with us and if so I hope he appreciates the story. As you will read, he had a great impact on me.
It’s interesting how some thoughts stay with us and just pop into our mind for no apparent reason. Recently, I recalled a conversation that occurred as part of some management training in the mid 70’s. Our instructor was a man by the name of Dave Wilcox of David R. Wilcox and Associates.
Dave was a man who was hard to forget. He was affable, full of energy, and not at all full of himself. He was almost as round as he was tall. He was one of those overweight people who were overweight everywhere therefore he did look quite round.
Dave was very proud of two things. First was his family. He had a wife and nine (9) children. He said his wife wanted a dozen but he got tired. While it’s immaterial to this story, if you’re wondering why they had nine children, they were good strong Catholics and adhered to the doctrine at the time of no birth control.
Second was the fact that he had no formal education beyond high school. Regardless, he developed a knack for working with people and children in particular. He worked for the Board of Education and also worked for Social Services.
At that time, in both social services and the school board offices, the social workers and academics had signs on their doors that had their names plus their degrees such as B. Ed., M. Ed, Ph. D, etc. Dave’s office just had the name “Dave Wilcox”. The people with degrees looked down their noses at him even though he did great work and in some cases did jobs they weren’t prepared or qualified to do. (Don’t confuse education with ability.)
One of his duties was to apprehend children in need. Needless to say this would garner many derisive comments from the parents . Someone taking away your children, regardless of how bad a parent you may be, will definitely raise your hackles.
Once, Dave went out to collect and put some children under the care of child protection. The mother was almost blind drunk and cursed him and the police officers with everything she had. She apparently said something to the effect of “You can’t take my kids you pot-bellied bastard!” Dave finished the apprehension but the pot-bellied bastard stuck with him. He liked it! It clearly stated what he was with the exception of the bastard part.
Dave got back to his office and had his door sign modified. From then on he was known as David R Wilcox, PBB. People were afraid to ask what it meant as it might show that although they were educated they didn’t know that degree. For those that asked, he’d take great joy in explaining it. He now had a title after his name.
Dave left the halls of academia and set up his business as a management trainer. This was quite a leap from a full time pay cheque to being an entrepreneur. He was a great success. Dave had an amazing way with people and getting them motivated. Today, we might call him a Life Coach. He was certainly one of the best trainers I know.
While this entire episode sticks in my mind, there is one of his stories that I think we may all be able to relate to in one way or another.
With nine children, parent teacher interviews were a bit of a challenge as just the scheduling was intimidating for the teachers. Dave was a very hands on Dad. He believed that if he brought children into the world then he’d better take responsibility. He always attended the parent/teacher interviews. With that many kids it was always interesting to meet their teachers and get to know them. It was also interesting to get their perspective of his children. Dave was nervous meeting the teachers, as it was a very mixed bag of reactions. One teacher struck him more than any other. For simplicity I’ll call her Mrs. Smith and his son’s name will be Johnny.
Dave and Mrs. Smith met. Mrs. Smith started the conversation by saying “I love your son Johnny…most of the time.” Dave was taken aback. This is how he felt too! He loved all of his children “most of the time”. This was a teacher that understood and Dave knew that his son was in good hands.
Let’s take Mrs. Smith’s comment and apply it to our own lives. If you’re a parent, do you love your children the same all the time, probably not. Your love is probably challenged if they get escorted home by the police or get a speeding ticket with your car. My guess is that you probably have a few not so loving words with them.
The same thing can be applied to a sibling, friend, parent, or partner.
No matter how much you care about someone, you will have times where they really aren’t that loveable. Then again, remember that you’re not all that loveable sometimes either.
The challenge is to be sure that the loveable times far outweigh the other times.
Think about Dave the next time you have one of those not so loveable or loving moments and get back to the loving and being loved part.