I have been with Coleman Dairy 11 years this week. My friend Robin thought it might be a good job for me.
Robin and I used to drive trucks hauling wood chips and sawdust. A female friend from his church got him a job here and he did the same for me. I was 47 years old at the time and he was just a "puppy".
This job was what I had been looking for but could not find in the small town where I was living. It had above average pay, health insurance, and a 401k. Things that I needed even if it meant driving 67 miles one-way to Little Rock.
Robin had been working at the dairy about 6 weeks when I was hired and he was the one that trained me as I would be taking over the run he had been on since being hired. One night on our run I said, "Just give me 15 years on this job and I can retire". He said he would like 25 years. As it turned out he stayed a couple of years bought his own truck and quit.
A couple months after I was hired my supervisor hired his wife's first cousin. Thing were going as planned for about three or four years. Then came the news, the dairy lost one of our major customers and layoffs were being handed out. I didn't think they would reach me as there were several with less seniority. Finely the supervisor called the 1st cousin and myself into his office and told us we were being "let go". He then told me if I wanted to transfer into the vault, there was an opening and if he needed a driver he could just transfer me back.
I wanted to pull a Johnny Paycheck but I was just 8 weeks from my anniversary date and that meant 2 weeks vacation pay (at that time it was $600 a week), plus I still felt like this was the job I needed to stick with.
The transfer to the vault meant a rather large pay cut but I accepted it. I would move to the vault in 2 weeks after the last of the Wal-Mart runs were over.
Three days before the transfer, my supervisor calls me in the office and tells me that he has enough runs that he needs to keep the 1st cousin on part time. Imagine that!!
He gave him 3 good runs a week and even though he would be making less money than before, he was still making more money than I even though I was working some overtime. On paper the supervisor could justify it but I about had a stroke.
The 1st cousin has cows and it is "haying season" and he only wanted to work 3 days a week. Amazing how that worked out. After about 3 months and his farm didn't require his time, he found another job. Funny after his departure those extra runs that he was needed for (and we still had) was covered by the regular drivers. Imagine that!
The supervisor in the vault and I hit it off and he did everything he could for me as he knew I had been shafted. After 3 weeks he put me spotting trailers on the yard. I was still an unhappy camper but I persevered.
After about 2 years I settled in and was making the most of it. My wife transferred to the Bryant Wal-Mart store and we moved the motorhome to Little Rock and started living full-time in it just ouside the dairy's main gate. I had 125 steps to the time clock.
It worked out well for me as we had started serving Wal-Mart again and I was putting in some long hours.
When my former supervisor asked if I wanted to come back I just told him I HAD a job. With the overtime I was now making as much as the truck drivers.
Three years ago we built a new plant and when we moved I transferred back to being a truck driver. My former supervisor has now retired. The former supervisor and I seemed to get along but it was like we were "oil and water".
The Coleman brothers are really great to work for and with. They really care for their employees and even though they don't own the plant anymore, they still work here and do what ever is right for their people.
So after 11 years what do I think of my decision to stay.
The lemonade tastes mighty sweet. I think I am better off today than I would have been if I had quit.
As I get closer to retirement and this latest buyout is still shaking out, I wonder if I can say the same thing in 3 or 4 years or if I will finally say "enough is enough".