During my 24 years in my printing career, when I first was “on the job training” I learned very little from the other printers in our shop. They did not have time for me, so I would have to train myself.
I knew I would never treat my people as I was treated if I ever became a boss. I learned by reading the manuals and coming into the shop at nights. I was a fast learner.
When I became one of the bosses after a year, I wanted my legacy passed on to the people I trained. It had nothing to do with what’s written on our Enlisted Performance Reports.
I was very patient with these young people, starting the first time I met them. I must say my patience was tested on many of them, but training takes time, patience, and understanding. Later, when these printers were assigned to other parts of the world, word got back to me that they were the best.
I was asked to make up a printing test, and I was told before I retired from the military that the Air Force still uses that test.
During the Viet Nam War, my boss asked me to train a young African-American officer, to let her pal around with me for a couple of weeks and teach her how to salute. I did as he asked.
She was the first female African-American to be promoted to a four-star general. I ran into her in Germany, and she gave me a big hug in front of my printers.
I am so proud of my printers. Some have their own shops now.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)