December 16, 2009

He was also in the process of moving to Montana, where he would remain my customer, and I talked to the Mayflower driver as we both waited for the current game to end.  He liked his job, and I thought it looked interesting – as a salesman, I always looked forward to the next city I would visit trying to sell my products to a worthy customer, and so enjoyed travelling.

I applied to Mayflower, and to North American Van Lines.  Mayflower declined to invite me, but North American leapt at the opportunity, and mailed me information, and I was enthused.  Later they called, and said they had received my driving record, and I had more than their allowable number of speeding tickets!

I was distraught, and told them my sales territory was only in the far western states, wide open country, excellent roads, and since I only earned money when in front of customers, I did hurry across the open spaces to get to the next opportunity, but If I were employed to safely transport the beloved possessions of families, that safe transport would be my absolute goal, and I knew I could do that safely and well.

It worked, they did accept me, and later, I was told by many State Police Officers, and Judges, that I was the nicest driver they ever had to reprimand, and they must have made notes of that in my records, and I greatly appreciate their efforts.  I have certificates for over two million safe driving miles, and only had a few yards of wrecks!

My closest friend at NAVL was Ed Waterman, an experienced driver who grew up in Massachusetts, but had moved to Fort Wayne, where NAVL was headquartered.  He had a good reputation among drivers, and was held in great respect by management.  I was awaiting delivery of my first truck ($8,000) at the White Truck Shop in Fort Wayne, when Ed spotted me in my brand new, tight fitting white NAVL coveralls, and said, “Hey, Driver, could you loan me twenty dollars?  I’ll pay you back this afternoon!”  I could, I did, and he did, as promised.  We remained close friends until he died.

I felt he was always more thought of by dispatch than I was, and I often wondered at how often I would be loaded on the east coast, with a delivery scheduled in Chicago or Minneapolis just after Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I would stop in Fort Wayne to do paperwork or visit headquarters – and Ed would show up at my motel door just before the holiday meal, and ask, “Hey, Bob, I saw your truck in the lot – how about coming out to the house for the holiday dinner?”  I enjoyed those dinners, and watching his family grow a LOT!

NAVL later came under new leadership, was sold to people with different desires than leading the moving industry forward, and their old headquarters is now peopled with a huge conglomerate of the remaining moving companies, and a tiny corner is occupied by the leaders of a new company, formed by the leading agents of the old NAVL.   I recently visited them – for the first time in 35 years, and loved it and them, and taking their time to reminisce with me of the good old days.  It was late on Friday, and I knew they were delaying playing golf, and I knew they weren’t allowed to hire anyone over some birth date too far in my past, but I had no doubt that in that room – that hour –  my rehire was seriously considered – by all!  .  .  good gardening

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