Sunday, June 20, 2010

For My Dad.


The following is a re-re-re-re-worked version of one of the first posts I ever wrote.

In fact, you might even say it has become a bit of a tradition here at the PacificGazette

(if such a thing is even possible on the Interwebz)


I really do live a charmed life.

I have a wonderful wife and two great kids.

I also have a job I actually like, where most of the time I get to do what I want while working with people (also mostly kids) to produce stuff we are all really proud of.

And that job pays me well; not hockey player money well, but I make more than I ever dreamed of. Which, of course, means that I make just enough that we can afford to live in our own house within the Vancouver city limits.

In fact, I guess some might say that I am upwardly mobile enough that I should quit all my complainin' because I'm one of the lucky ones that actually benefits financially from many of the 'rich folks first!' policies of Mr. Campbell et al.

But here's the thing.....

I am most definitely not one of those 'ladder puller-uppers'?

You know, somebody who's got theirs, and now says, "Screw you Jack," to everybody else.


I'll tell you why.

It's because of my Dad.......

My old man was a Union man.

And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...things like an extra quarter percent on a COLA clause, or one little add-on like an extra free filling per year on the dental plan.

And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut....all that energy going into what, exactly?

After all, it was the 80's, and Dave Barrett and the Socialist Hordes were long gone, and the Wild Kelowna boys were rolling along, and Unions were bad, and Expo was coming, and Trudeau was going, and John Turner was hiccupping, and Mulroney was lurking, somewhere off in the distance....

....And if you were a half-bright, apolitical science-geek kind of kid like me, breezing your way through college and thinking about graduate school, you laughed when you saw the boy wonder from Burnaby, Michael J. Fox, shirk his Family Ties and ape the young Republicans while making fun of his willfully neutered Leftie of a Dad on the TV screen...

....And if you were that kid, you thought that you were living in a golden age that was tied, not to the social democratic reforms of the past, but to the coming of Free Trade and the promises of the Reaganites from the South...

...And from that perspective you sure as heck didn't always get the irony of Bruce Springsteen singing about the plight of the working class in 'Born in the USA'.

But now that I have spent a good chunk of time in USA where I started a family of my own before coming home, I do get it.

I understand that my Dad spent his entire adult life hauling logs up and down the West Coast, working his guts out to help keep the robber baron families rich because he had to make a living to support his own family....

....And I get the fact that, because of the Unions, my family's standard of living gradually improved, bit by bit, over the years so that by the time I had grown up to be that callow young man described above my parents had saved enough to help me go to University....

....And I get the fact that I was the first one in my family who got to go to University....Ever.....And it wasn't because I was so damned smart....

....And I get the fact that, while my parents' limited financial help and support was important, it would never have been enough to get me into the same good schools if I had arrived on the scene a single generation earlier or, perhaps, later....

....And I get the fact that those Wild Kelowna Boys, and all the other neo-cons that have come since, have been doing their damndest to destroy the dream of a University education for all, and instead have instituted an elitist education for some and one-trick-pony Technical training for everybody else.....

....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today.....

....And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.


And here's to our good friend Lynx's and cfvua's Dads too
....Forever may they ramble, roam, organize, bargain, and/or just plain old give somebody a hand-up whenever and wherever the need arises.



Anonymous said...

Well said !

Anonymous said...

I'll bet that Dad pretty much thinks of his son the same way.

lynx said...

"....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today....."

Yes, so true...and so well said.

My much-loved leftie Dad passed away a month ago so your wonderful Father's Day tribute to your own heroic and hard-working Dad was especially moving to read.

cfvua said...

Ross. I lost my Dad just over a year ago and I will always admire his will to better the life of the working man. He believed in giving a days work for a days pay and was a union man too. We lived a good life too. He carried his values into business when he reached a time in his life when he saved enough to start his own business. I just hope that I can carry on with those values in my business. As you seem more than aware it is big corporate interests that tarnish the reputations of people like our fathers and what they fought for many years ago. We owe it to them not to let what they accomplished be diminished by any looters and the people who are allowing the looting to happen.

RossK said...

Thanks Everybody--

Really, really appreciate your telling us about your Dads lynx and cfvua.

And to Anon#2..... To be honest, never really thought about it that way before - thanks.

(and I really need to write one of these things for my Mom who spent most of her working life in a bank which, come to think of it, might have something to do with why I have this weird dual-eyed/split-screened view of the world)


macadavy said...

A well-earned tribute to a hard working man. When I worked in the forest industry and was a proud member of the 50,000-strong IWA I was told this: "What we demand for ourselves we desire for all."
Industrial (not craft) Unions worked hard not just to win better wages and working conditions for themselves, they supported progressive political forces that tried to advance all of society.
The pendulum of history has swung far to the right, unions and politics are dirty words, thanks to relentless media slagging. It's up to us to see it swings back to a better balance ASAP.

Anonymous said...

You have learned well - bless you and your family - they were a whole lot more in touch with the "real world" then we are now. Joey

RossK said...




And thanks too to you also Joey.

I've gotta be real honest though....When I was a kid a wholelotta my friends punched the clock working that green chain....And after I did my stint of menial labour that scared me back to school for real, I never wanted to work that chain....

Especially not graveyard.