I grew up out in the sticks. We were not rich but we got by.
My first job when I was in school was in a very tough part of town. It was industrial with low income neighborhoods and lots of bars.
We were a gas station that closed at 6 PM when most of the companies closed. Even then I learned street smarts that still benefit me today.
Our customers were made up of the local residents and company accounts. This means I could be dealing with someone’s grandmother, gang members, drug dealers, Hells Angels the Chairman of Firestone or BFG and even occasionally a celebrity.
The bars were one redneck, one lesbian and one drug biker bar. They all got along well.
I saw federal bust, local arrest. Was in the middle of a surprise stabbing, some pulled guns. One day I went with a local to bring his car back and was in the middle of a major drug deal.
We did work for the Hells Angels around the corner and serviced the FBI cars that often were trying to arrest the Angels.
I became good a good friend of Raymond Riley CEO of Firestone tire, Met Morgan Fairchild and filled gas for Sonny Barger the top Hells Angel.
I was able to stop an attempted rape and hung out with the street people that appeared broke and homeless but most had more money on them than me.
It was a very diverse group and I found that getting along with most people was easy. You just had to be smart, open minded and know what to say and not to say.
I made a number of good friends of all races and we all held a respect that made it all work.
It has help me in life to deal with all sorts of people in many situations in other jobs in many applications.
I wish more people on all sides could have experienced this as we are not all alike and we have many different influences and the more you learn the easier it becomes.
The key is respect no matter who you are.
It is about adapting.
You can't just go into any situation and expect everyone to just drop how they are or what they are doing to cater to your feelings.
You show respect and adapt. In time by showing respect you get respect.
If I had not adapted to where I had worked years ago I would not be here today.
How you act, talk and carry yourself can make a difference with many crowds and cultures. Where I was at I had so many different ones you had to be on your toes.
As they say life is simply complicated and those who are successful are often those who learn and adapt to the needs of a situation.
I later worked in the medical field with terminal patients. I was able to apply much of what I learned from my past.
Today I can be dealing with some rude guy from New York or even Istanbul to a the guy that is the head of Edelbrock or a lead engineer of a NASCAR Team.
Everyone is a bit defect and if you learn how to deal with the differences you will go far.
But my father taught me well. He was paralyzed in a sports accident. He could have laid back and been a victim. But no he got back on his feet with a brace and two canes and got back to Goodyear tire and retired with 35 years, He taught kids in Church and shared his faith and story with others. I could not count the number of people he helped over the years just because he did not quite.
He is gone now but I hope what I leave behind will be something he would have been proud of. It is not easy and their will be failures along the way with the victories. But you just have to work for it as nothing is given it has to be earned.
If you sit back and just play a victim or don't try you are the limiting factor of your future.