Monday, January 14, 2008


I used to work with a guy named Will. He and I were part of the 37 person team of timekeepers for the Atlanta Post Office.

Will and his wife both worked for the Atlanta Post Office. They had nine daughters – from toddlers to grown ladies. They all seemed to baby and spoil Will.

Will was retired from the Air Force and I think he was sort of a “Sergeant Bilko” of his unit. He liked to gamble such as all night poker games and from time to time got into a business scheme which seemed to always fail.

I never saw him in a bad mood. He was always joking and had a signature chuckle. He was a very likable person. Why? Because he, in his easy going charming way, radiated that he wished harm on no one… or that was my interpretation.

One morning I came up to his station to take his place, his tour was over for the day. The cramp little office stunk. Will chuckled and said, “You caught me cooking eggs.” (meaning he was letting the flatulence in his system go to the winds of the office fan).

His hours were from midnight until 8:30 in the morning. At that time I was the relief timekeeper for our timekeeping station on the workroom floor.

Will called in sick a lot. Will had good diction and a good announcer’s voice. He had a part time job with WAOK radio station*. One night that he called in our boss listened to him through the night on the radio, announcing records as he played them, giving news off the ticker on every hour, and fairly often giving the time and temperature.

When Will was called in about that and confronted it, he just denied it, saying it was all on tape. The manager said, “With the time and temperature?” Will told him it was far too complex to explain modern taping methods – and he wasn’t sure how the engineer did it either… but they used his voice taped from other times on the air.”

The manager asked about the hourly news. Same thing Will said.

He got away with it. Will was a smooth talker.

I remember one time when his wife was having their 9th daughter he just didn’t make it to the hospital the day of the birth – “things kept coming up” he said. Which I can understand, he lived in the moment and seemed to have no concept of getting out of “the moment” and move on. I seen him stay more than an hour after he was off the clock, just carrying on a conservation with someone – then, maybe someone else would come alone and he start talking to that person. I could only shake my head, it is not my style – but I am a little envious over that type of mind-set.

One time I came in to relieve him and he told me that he and I would be rich men in about a year and would not be here working. “How so?” I asked.

He said he went to meeting last night and invested $500, I think the amount was. He said he would get distributors under him, each would give him $500, and they do the same. It was the pyramid game…. The biggest fraud around for the times. I told him that I valued my money to throw it away on a pyramid scheme…. Oh yeah, there was also a product involved, whatever it was is unimportant… the product was meaningless. It was the distributorship program that was the get rich quick thing.

He said he KNEW with this new plan he would be a very rich man in about a year – I could either go with his plan or stay back and work for “Mr. Charley” the rest of my life.

I chose the latter. Poor Will was forced to do the latter too – he didn’t get rich, and he was still there when I transferred to Marietta in 1983.

Will was about 60 when the last time I saw him 25 years ago. If he is still living he is about in his middle ages and I bet still smiling, chuckling, and trying to make a quick buck.

*I loved WAOK radio station. It was an all black station with a mostly rhythm and blues. The famous Piano Red had a show on every afternoon, about the time high schools got out.

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Blogger kenju said...

He sounds like a fun (if frustrating) character. Me. kenju has known several like him through the years. Pyramid schemes abound -and we know one guy who has gotten into about 6-7 of them, to his wife's dismay!

5:06 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I think Will fell for every pyramid that came along - all the promoter had to say was, "you can't lose!"

6:15 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

We bought into Amsoil once. Not to 'get rich,' but to be able to buy synthetic Ams oil from ourselves rather than pay another distributor.

I remember Piano Red, too. As best I remember, he talked more than he played the piano.

6:46 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Within a year I bought an Piano Red CD. He talks while he plays the piano, but his talking is not just talk-talk... he is whispering sweet nothings into his imaginary lover's ear.

8:06 AM  
Blogger deborah wilson said...

Will standing around talking to someone for an hour reminds me of Pop - he was bad about that, he never met a stranger. I can hear my Grandmother yelling now, "Come on, Albert!" But he didn't do it after work, he was always ready to go home.

Pyrimid Schemes are the worst - I had a friend who got involved in that about 4 years ago - it last about 3 months. Today, he's still working for a living!

9:26 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I feel for people who fall for pyramid schemes. Just the sheer math of it, the distributorship system - everybody in the world can't be distributors - as usual, the poor people at the bottom of the pyramid will end up with the bulk on their shoulders. tch tch. That is a strange testimony of human greed.

11:30 AM  

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