Letters to the Power Plant #124 — Time Warp at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the one hundred and twenty fourth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

9/26/06  —  Time Warp at Dell

Dear Soonerites and other important people,

Has it been forever since I have written?  I don’t even remember the last time.  I have been so busy with my new team that I haven’t had a moment of rest…. Except when I went on a three week vacation this summer.

So, here’s what has happened with my new team.  They immediately turned around and  “loaned” me back to I/T as a resource so that I could work on the projects that they wanted done.

You see.  I/T had said that they couldn’t work on the projects because they just didn’t have the resources, so they hired me, and then loaned me back to them and said.  “Here’s Kevin, he can do it.”  —  So, I have been doing more programming as a business person than I was doing as an I/T person….  Go figure.

But it has been fun, because you know how much I like a challenge.  —  Especially if someone says, “It can’t be done.”

Well.  We have just finished moving all off our European countries and a bunch of Latin American countries into our “Global” Expense reporting tool.  Besides that, we have upgraded Kronos again (that’s our Timekeeping application), (and I’m actually right in the middle of applying a Service Pack to it as I type).

This was the first moment in a number of months where I looked at my calendar, and I looked at my tasks, and I realized that I actually had about 1/2 hour where I could write a letter to my old friends in Power Plant Land.  —  I don’t mind.  They recently gave me a promotion.  So I’m happy.

So, Charles Foster told me that there is going to be a lot of construction goin’ on around there.  I read the article about the big plant that is going to be built.  That’s really exciting.  That reminds me of the days when the plant was being built the first time.

Everything was all muddy (because there wasn’t any grass) except for the parking lot which was very nice and clean, because our wonderfully insightful management realized that if we couldn’t park in the parking lot then it would stay cleaner longer.  —  Wasn’t that a brilliant idea?  I thought it was….

It is like the idea that Stanley Elmore had about not letting anyone drive that little blue Mitsubishi tractor for a year so that the warranty could run out before we could actually see if it ran.  — I was only a summer help at the time, but I do remember telling him that I thought it was a brilliant idea to let the warranty run out before you let Jim Heflin get on it.

Of course.  A few years later…. It was quite a site watching Ken Couri riding it around.  —  That was a good little tractor.  —  I was thinking about Ken Couri the other day.  I was remembering how he used to help teach the Safety courses.  That was one guy that usually had a big smile on his face.  — oh well.  I’m reminiscing again….  I guess the thought of Construction at the plant sent me back almost 30 years….

Talking about 30 years…  Do any of you remember Colonel Sneed?  —  Well if not, I’m sure you remember Gene Titus.  He was around a lot longer.

It’s funny, but for some reason, the two guys that I always think about when it comes time to pray for someone is:  David Hankins and Grant Harned.  I’m sure you ol’ timers remember David, but Grant wasn’t around very long.  He was the receptionist for a while before he moved to Tulsa, and later died in an automobile accident (I used to carpool with him when I was a janitor).

From what I knew of David, he was one of the kindest people I ever met.  —  I remember when I came back for my second (or was it third) year as a summer help and I was riding down the road in a yellow cushman cart with Jim Heflin, and I asked him, “Where’s David Hankins?  I haven’t seen him around?” and he stopped the cart in the middle of the road and said, “You didn’t know?  He died in a car crash last fall.”

For some reason — I often think about David and Grant.  Don’t know why.  I have a photo of each of them that I keep on my bookshelf.  —  Ok…. I guess I’m sounding a little like Randy Daily now.  Remember when he wrote a list of all the people that had died that had worked at the plant on the Chalkboard upstairs in the tool room?

I added Jerry Mitchell and Grant Harned to the list.  I figured most people didn’t realize Jerry had died.  I only knew because my wife took care of him in the hospital as he was dying.  She didn’t know him before he was her patient, but she said she thought he was a really saintly person during the time that she knew him…..

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Jerry Mitchell read the post “A Power Plant Man Becomes an Unlikely Saint“.

Which brings me to Eldon Waugh.  —  The last time I was in Stillwater (which was a little over a year ago), I met Eldon Waugh in the Hampton Inn.  —  He sneaks in there in the morning to eat a free breakfast with his friend.  — I introduced my kids to him so they could see the person that I pushed around in the elevator once when he came to a Men’s Club a couple of years after he had retired…

The guys at Mustang told me that when Eldon was a plant manager there, he would pick through the rags in the trash can and pull out those that he didn’t think were dirty enough to throw away. And put them back in the rag box.  — Now that’s being frugal…don’t you think?

When Ted Riddle and I were on overhaul at Mustang, one time we went to work on something and all the light bulbs were burned out, so we decided, “by golly”, we’ll just go around and replace all the burned out bulbs.  — The Electric Supervisor just about had a cow.  He was going to have to order more light bulbs, and that was going to stretch his budget, all because we replaced all the burned out lights.

He told us that we should only replace lights if we are going to be working in the area, and not go around replacing any lights needlessly….  — Can you imagine that?  How many lights are there at Sooner?  About 80 Ba-zillion?

I can see turning off some lights, or something like that, but leaving them all burned out seems a little strange….  —  Anyway, they figured they had to keep Ted and I busy the rest of the time we were there or we might come up with some other “bright” ideas.

Well.  I know I have been rambling enough for one letter.  I haven’t told my new team about Ramblin’ Ann yet, but I did warn them that that story was coming….

I hope all is going well with you guys,

Your Friendly Dell Technical Advisor,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

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