By Nick Martin
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on thefabricator.
com blog on March 28.
The tight-knit group in a small shop is very special. As I have mentioned before, it is more like;family. You have all of the people who quote jobs and make
parts, and if you are lucky, you also have a secretary or office manager—a good one who makes things flow smoothly.
Read more from Nick Martin at www.thefabricator.com/author/nick-martin
A good shop
of its own
The people that
work around you
Our secretary, Joyce Upchurch,
whom we call Miss Joyce, has been
part of our team for several years and
in the manufacturing industry her
whole life. Keeping books, answering phones, bird-dogging money, and
carrying out random errands are second nature to her. We’ve come to rely
on her for numerous things, as she
wears many hats. Another bonus is
that she is always there to talk to you
if you need advice.
About four years ago, Miss Joyce began telling me of some strange behavior her husband Raymond was exhibiting and how it was a;ecting his job.
Long story short, these habits were
the beginning signs of Alzheimer’s
disease, and his retirement was going to come sooner rather than later. I
wouldn’t say that she confided in me,
but she did share information that I
felt was personal and confidential.
She told me that she was going to
have to retire to help take care of Raymond and that the timeline did not
look great, as is the case with every
Alzheimer’s patient. I could tell that
this was a tough decision for her, and
it was di;icult for her to tell her boss,
who is also my dad. I did not share
with him anything she had told me,
but he had a good idea about why she
The day came for her retirement
on June 27, 2013, and we had a small
get-together at the shop for her with
her family and close friends. I got the
chance to meet Raymond, and he
seemed fine and well to me. The guys
in the shop didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes, and this
was a normal retirement party.
A couple years went by and we had
about two and half more secretaries—one for a long period; another
for a week who had to leave because
her husband was ill; and another for a
few months who le; us with mistakes
that lasted for several months. They
weren’t the same as Miss Joyce, and
o;entimes didn’t have the wherewithal to know there was much more
that could be done besides the books
The guys in the shop o;en would
come in and tell us that they missed
Miss Joyce. They say that everyone
is replaceable, but some people and
their positive work ethic just aren’t.