What has shaped you?

Since I decided to publish my blog in February and you may be new to Immovable Man, so, I wanted to share a little about myself—and the path of those who helped shape me.
My name is Rich. I originally born and raised in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I grew up in the town called Dudley. Most people have never heard of Dudley, it’s about ten miles outside if Goldsboro.  I was your average funny looking kid who got picked on for having glasses and a shuddering issue with words. I was mostly known for my short stature. I remembered my second-grade teacher Mrs. Taylor started calling me “Little Richard”The reason why is because she had two students named Richard. Obviously one was bigger than the other one and I drew the short straw. The name stuck to me for years all the way up to high school.  The backwoods of Dudley and those around me shaped who I am today.
Throughout my life, there have been a lot of people who have helped mold me and I could write all day. These five have been the most impactful in my life to shape who I am.
My granddad worked building gas fuel tank trucks for the local gas company. I was amazed how they could start with just the base of the truck and could create this massive truck. Outside of working my granddad would cut his grass every week. He often would cut the local neighbors yards as well. The greatest joy of my granddad was his flowers and trees. His hobby was gardening and as a kid, I sent a lot of time outside. He would tell me which plant and a when flower grew early and late. He turned a desolate piece of land into a plethora of trees and flowers. He taught me how not to be afraid to get my hands dirty. He also taught me the value of helping others. There wasn’t a time where he didn’t help someone in some way.

Likewise, my grandmother was a housekeeper for the same family for well over twenty years. Grandma was the stern one, she would often wake my brother and me up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. In gramma house Saturday was for washing, cleaning and grocery store runs. My granddad would get up and head up to town to take care of errands. I learned quickly to hop in the car or I would be left at the house cleaning with grandma. Grandma taught me how to deep clean and how to fold clothes as soon as they come off of the clothesline. Hanging clothes outside as a kid sucked because it seemed that clothesline was always too tall. I was stuck holding the clothespins bucket. My granddad would get to places super early before they opened. He would be the first in line at the drug store, grocery store and even Sears Robuck. I didn’t learn this until later in my adult life while I was in college. The financial aid line and the lines for Chicken Wednesdays in the cafe were ridiculously long.  I missed out on a lot of the crispy hot chicken. My grandparents would finish all their errands on a Saturday by 12 pm.  They would be back home eating lunch by the time people actually got up and went out to run their errands.  They both taught me to have a strong work ethic and to take my time especially when it came to puzzles. We would create tons of images with the 1000 plus puzzle pieces. One important thing I valued was their routine and their commitment to things and each other.  I saw characteristics of a good marriage, humor and how they were there for each other in sickness. They instill a toughness that I still value until this day and I am grateful for it.
My mother instilled in me the resilience to never give and if I fall to get up and keep going. She taught me at nine or ten to stand up for myself and I let anyone pick on you. I was often bullied on school all through middle and high school in which most 80’s kids were. In one particular incident at a neighbor’s house, some older kids were saying harsh things about me. Most of the stuff, I brushed off but something was triggered when I was called studderbox and Duckman.  You may need to google duck man to get a visual. I remember running home crying and I remember my mom took me back over to the neighbor’s house. She was stern with the older kids but more stern with me after we got back to our house.  That night I really understood that people will talk about you for as long as you live and don’t sweat it.  My mom showed me the true definition of busting your butt. My mom worked as a nurse and often time she would work 12-hour shift just to provide for my brother and I. As I got older she, got a part-time job at the local grocery store in the bakery department. She never showed us that she was tired or wasn’t feeling well. Working two jobs as an adult now, I feel every ache and pain. Working at the bakery department paid off because she was able to get me my first real job at Winn Dixie grocery store as a bag boy. My grandparents essentially got me my first job of installing invisible underground dog fences. The job paid me under the table in cash and I was grateful for working summers installing the dog fences.  Mr. Jim showed me great customer service by talking to his customers and really getting to know them. I remember he always checked on his customers well after he installed the fences.

I was going to leave my father out but he did instill some good characteristics that I still hold. My father was a renaissance man who could pretty much do anything. He was able to fix the car, fix plumbing, lay bricks, build a shed and the list goes on and on.  He was always straightforward and I think that what people liked about him. He never sugar-coated anything no matter how bad it was. The greatest thing I learned was to take responsibility for your action and deal with the consequences. I remember when I hid the fact that I may have had a child on the way. In his own quirky way, he made me acknowledge it in front of the girl’s parents. It was very awkward but a plan of action came out of the situation. I remember talking on three-way with some friends from school and the phone bill came to my grandmother. She saw some unusual charges for three-way calling and let me dad know. Back in the early 90’s BellSouth phone company charged for everything. In his own quirky way, I ended up paying my grandmothers phone bill each month and I wasn’t allowed to use three-way anymore.
The last person that made a great impact on my life was my friend Ebony. When I met her it was like meeting someone you had met before. Ebony taught me leadership and how to lead without having the title. Essentially she showed me how to manage up and showing what you can do. She saw something in this 18-year-old kid from the country and helped bring it out. We both worked at the theme park Carowinds on a water ride. I was very quiet when we met in orientation and kinda standoff a bit. Over time we became good friends and would have real conversations about life. We both applied to be a team leader for the same position and she ended up getting the position.  One day we were eating lunch and she told me straight up that I need to come out of the shell that I was in.  I wasn’t interested in a team lead position anymore, so she nudged me to apply again. I did get the position as a team leader.  Year after year we would have these real sessions and I would get chin checked every time. The last lesson she taught me was to express how you feel to others and keep it pushing.

I pay homage to those who have helped shape me into the man who I am today. I am internally grateful.


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