Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's a boy to do?

I have recently faced some adversity when the dealership I was working for closed unexpectedly. Plans that I had made were suddenly cancelled or changed and the household budget was becoming a big question mark. I am the sole wage earner in my household. The savings are slim since my daughter got married last year and my wife has been unable to work for the last year due to a disability she is working through. When a dealership closes abruptly, they don't write out the month end bonuses, and this is how most of us pay our monthly bills.

We are all, by and large, held captive by our upbringing, whether we conform to those values and beliefs or rebel against them. I was raised in a single earner household and my Dad was the man. He made all of the major spending decisions and could fix almost anything. Most of my views are influenced by that childhood and I constantly compare myself against that standard. My very masculinity is validated based on those standards. The question of the day is "How do you define 'a good man' and how is that definition shaped by your life experiences"?

You can't separate the opinion from the background experiences that shape them. I started my post educational life in a Western Pennsylvania steel plant. We made pipe and tubing from raw steel while wearing our hardhats and steel-toe shoes. I eventually moved into a shipping/receiving supervisor's position and stayed there for 21 years. At various times times during that employment, I had part time jobs in law enforcement and high school football coaching. Definitely all high testosterone environments! For me, a good man provides for and protects his family. He's a tough guy that takes charge when needed. If he pops the hood on a car, he knows what he's looking at. He isn't aggressive, but he never takes any shit. Ask him what he is and he'll tell you how he makes his living.

Do I really believe all of that? Not really. Human Beings are far too complex to boil them down to a few short sentences, but there is this little guy in my head that nods in agreement with those sentiments. He was born when I was and was fully formed by the time I was ten. You have someone like that in your head, too. We all argue with them but we can't ever really ignore them. I also believe that a "good man" is a thinker. Someone who has opinions well thought out and formed and who can express those ideas coherently. He should have a high degree of compassion and empathy for others. He helps when he can. Oh, by the way, he also holds doors for and offers his seat to women.

Why am I writing this now? Unemployment is as emasculating as an unfaithful spouse. In my case, there is nothing I did that caused this situation. My family has been very supportive and no one has said or done anything to insinuate that I am any less for this experience. I know because I watch for it. Intellectually, I know that I didn't cause any of this. The department I supervised was making money, and a lot more than they did before I took over. There is nothing here to make me feel like I didn't produce. But that little SOB in my head keeps giving me funny looks....

As an update, I did accept a job with another dealership. It is a step backward (the little guy REALLY hates that!) but not terribly far back. I got knocked down hard, but I stood back up, dusted myself off, and kept on going. I hope I always will.

I look forward to any debate on this subject in the comments!

mhk 08/01/2007

14 comments:

jadey said...

Hey there. Well congrats on the new job. So you want to debate with me, first you wanted to fight me now debate me geesh what a guy lol.

You give up your seats and open doors you are a gentleman aren't you? I would say from what I know of you Mike you are a great man, you believe in family, and values and you have respect for people. So I guess I won't debate with you on this article I am sure though we could debate about other things. :)

Darlin_Jo said...

Mike...I understand wehre you are coming from in the sense that my family was the same way. Dad was the sole bread winner, mom stayed at home for the most part.

But my father raised me to take care of myself. I have to admit that the relationship I am in right now is quite backwards in the "traditional" respect. My boyfriend does work but when it comes to fixing the car, installing a new garbage disposal or repairing holes in the wall, that falls to me. And because of my father I can.

You shouldn't feel bad even if you did have to take a step backwards. At least you are still stepping. The fact that you found another job so quickly shows that you are a man who's main concern is providing for his family and that is something to be proud of in itself.

Congrats on the new job!!

~Darlin~

Ambre said...

A very well thought out, superbly written heartfelt expression of the inner man Mike.

Yes, we fall down, but we get up and when we rise we see things through the eyes of experience. No gray areas, no shadows, just truth that is more often than not, stranger than fiction.

~congratulations~

MIke Kilgore said...

Thanks for the comments! Maybe the next one will be a luttle more light hearted!

jadey said...

Hey now I am anxiously awaiting the next post :)

MIke Kilgore said...

I'm working on it, Jadey....

jadey said...

Okay thanks sweets you know I need that Mike fix. :)

jadey said...

Mike,

I hate to do this to you but you are now officially tagged. You now have to go to my blog and cut and paste the 40 question survey and post the answers on your blog enjoy! Sorry ahead of time but it really is painless.

Ambre said...

Sits in corner waiting quietly for yet ANOTHER blog post..

~sucking thumb~

jadey said...

Take your thumb out of your mouth missy that is not very lady like of you.

Ambre said...

(extends thumb to Jadey)

Here, wanna taste?

~giggles~

jadey said...

ummm lol I'm good thanks

ERIK VAN TONGERLOO said...

Nice article

Tip : promote your blog in http://www.piecelibrary.com/ by writing an article there and make a link to your blog in the bylink. Your blog will attract more visitors.

Ambre said...

Erik does make his rounds, now doesn't he..

Are you in the advertisement business Erik..?

~VOTE FOR ME!~