I’ll never forget when we moved from Peoria, Illinois to Fort Worth, Texas on March 15, 1959. When we left Peoria, it was 15 below zero with a foot of snow on the ground. What a welcome sight Texas was. I fell in love with the state and when I moved to Waxahachie in 1969, I knew this would be my home until I reach my Eternal Home.
I was 13 years old, strong as an ox, stubborn as a mule and full of piss and vinegar when we moved here. These traits were a result of being raised around four older boy cousins who bullied and harassed me unmercifully. It was also a result of living in the housing projects. I learned at a very young age to fight to survive.
I was born to a single mom when she was 16. Through most of my life, she was more like a sister than a mom. We lived with my grandma in Chaplin, Illinois and many years of my life were spent in the bedroom where I was born. My mom passed away in 1986 at the age of 57, much too young. I miss her terribly and am so grateful for the things she taught me.
When my mom married my stepfather, I was five years old. He treated me great till the other kids came along and then it was different. I hated that man for the way he treated me. He also taught me one of the greatest gifts of life—forgiveness.
My late aunt had visited with my stepfather during the final chapter of his life and he told her he was sorry for the way he treated me. He said he loved me. I, regretfully didn’t take the opportunity to visit him before he died on one of my final trips back to Peoria.
I was overcome with sadness and I was so humbled when he passed away and in his wallet was the card that we put on our graduation invitations—a card that read Guila Mae Jackson. I had graduated in 1963 and he and mom had been divorced for many years. He had carried that card in his wallet for many years and I cannot explain in words how I felt when my late brother Tom told me about that card. I forgave him that minute and I pray that he knows that I have forgiven him.
I will probably jump around in this writing and I hope you can keep up with me.
My mom was a hard worker until she became sick and died with cancer. I got her good work ethic which my youngest son has learned from me.
My mom was my first boss, along with my grandmother, who I lived with lots of times.
I guess my first real boss was Mr.Glass, an elderly man I met when we moved to Fort Worth. He mowed yards and he took me on to help. It was hard work mowing and trimming hedges and edging around the sidewalk, but I made money that was used to help buy school clothes for my siblings. He taught me a valuable life lesson—the importance of hard work.
My next boss was Miss Tilley, a lady who ran a boarding house. She pushed a grocery cart to get around. I went to her house three days a week after school and did cleaning and ran chores for her. I’ll never forget what a kind and giving soul she was. She taught me a great life lesson—kindness.
My first boss in a real job was Mary Davis at Texstar Plastics in Fort Worth. I was in high school then and would go there after school. It was just a couple of blocks down the street. I answered the phone and did filing. This lady taught me another lesson—how to act in a business environment and the desire to want to learn new things.
On March 6, 1964, I began a career that spanned close to 40 years. I was a cord board operator at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. I was hired by Bonnie Chambers, the Chief Operator. She was a stern lady who demanded respect, but she had a heart of gold. When my baby brother died at a little over two months old, this kind lady gave our a family $300 to bury him. I’ll never forget this lady and the lesson she taught me—the lesson of generosity.
During my career at Southwestern Bell, which was later SBC, then AT&T, I learned discipline and how to organize your life around a work schedule that included work schedules that were different every day. I made lifelong friends there and this job provided a means for me to raise my two sons without child support or welfare. I am grateful that this job taught me many life lessons, with discipline and friendship being the most important.
When I moved to Waxahachie, God put many special people in my life. I worked a variety of part-time jobs and met some amazing people along the way that had a great impact on my life. Roscoe and Pauline Jenkins were true angels who babysat my boys when I worked. I know that God put them in my life. They were like family.
I have had many kinds of bosses during my life, some were saints and some were tyrants. I became a union a union steward and stood toe to toe with the tyrant bosses who often disrespected their employees.
These years taught me many life lessons. I have dealt with many bosses, many who would fire their own mother if it furthered their career.
With my experience with so many management styles, I just want to speak to all the bosses out there. What kind of boss are you? Do your people work for you or with you?
Are you the kind of boss who does things out of revenge because of a way you were treated on a previous job? Are you the kind of boss who will use any and everybody as a stepping stone to achieve your goals? Are you the boss who constantly toots his or her own horn instead of praising all of his or her employees for their hard work? Are you the boss who hides behind a mask of Godliness while doing the Devils work? Do you respect or disrespect those who work for you?
I have seen bosses that would often use coworkers to do their dirty work for them on their fellow employees. They would have them spy on them or spread lies about their coworkers. That to me is utterly disgusting.
I have worked for or witnessed bosses who meet the criteria in the questions I just listed. These kinds of bosses never truly succeed. They might for a short while, but when their results decline and there are customer complaints about them, they are forced out.
By the Grace of God, I was privileged to have some truly wonderful caring and kind bosses during my career. Those people helped me to kinda forget the tyrants I have worked for or have observed. These bosses occupy a special place in my heart.
I just plead with the bosses of today to do a self-evaluation and determine what kind of boss you are. Employees will work harder and your business will be more successful if you treat all your employees with the same respect you expect from them.
Today, at the age of 73, I still work. I’m actually independently employed, but the persons who sign the paychecks I receive right now are awesome. I have found that I am unable, at this stage in my life, to work for a person who signs the check if I do not respect them.
I apologize for the negativity in this article, but I want the truth to be known. I have learned these truths from experiencing many things and I want my lessons life to help others, just as so many others have taught me such wonderful lessons in life.
Guila Jackson is a Waxahachie resident, freelance writer and member of the Daily Light distribution team.