For a living, that is. I froze…
What job was my dad doing when I was a child? He could have been a doctor, a singer… He could have driven big trucks, leaving for weeks at a time, being a truck driver. He could have been a taxi driver, or played in “Taxi driver”, then he would have been an actor.
Those would have been easy jobs to remember for a kid, and later on, a woman in her late thirties. But he didn’t do any of those things…
I do remember he worked in huge plants… When I was born, he worked in a plant attached to an iron mine. He didn’t work in the mine itself, but in the plant. We moved to Fermont, and he worked in another iron mine related plant. Then he worked in 2 aluminum producing plants.
He must have had an important job, because I remember him being sent to Holland to be trained for some tasks… That’s a long trip to take some training. I remember that time he was away from us, because that’s the only time he left my mom longer than his occasional 3 days fishing trips with some friends… And when he came back, my mom had wrapped a big yellow ribbon to the frontyard’s tree. It was only years later that I realized how romantic that was..
Then, he also worked in a plant next to a Bauxite mine. That’s when we all lived in Africa. But yet again, what did he do exactly? I just don’t know.
I know he was “un contre-maître”, some kind of team leader. And I know that he was a good one. The kind of leader that didn’t use his power to step on his workers’ egos. He was liked, and he liked his team. He always spoke of those men kindly and he had funny nicknames for all of them.
I remember he often worked on Christmas Eve, and when he did, my mom would cook our traditionnal meal, “un cipaille” for them to enjoy, since they were away from their families on such a special night. My mom always cooked only one “cipaille” per year, it was and still is the rule. There can be no second “cipaille” cooked. Just can’t. Even if we had super important visitors from abroad, they couldn’t taste it unless they joined us for the Christmas night’s meal…. She never broke the rule, except for my father’s team.
I remember for one of his jobs, he was asked to wear a tie, to distinguish him from his subordinates… And he refused. His bosses told him that they’d have to take measures… So he bought the ugliest tie he could find, to make his team workers laugh, and to show the importance (more the lack of…) it had for him. He wore it day after day, after day, after day, without everv washing it. When it got disgustingly dirty and smelly, he was summoned to his boss’ office and told he could stop wearing the ugly tie.
I remember he worked on shifts, meaning we learned early in life that sometimes you just can’t make as much noise as you’d like, even if it is 3 in the afternoon. It also meant that my mom spent some nights alone, and my brother and I took turns, sleeping in our parents’ bed, in my dad’s place. I even remember the smell of his pillow…
I remember his tin lunchbox… and how I used to ask my mom to remind me when dad was almost home, so I could draw him a good hot bath.
A lot of souvenirs, but all that time, I never knew what was his job….