Sunday, November 7, 2010

Signs Of The Times

Back in 1971 The Five Man Electrical Band sang a song called Signs, this song always made me smile but the lyrics if you listen to them are words that ring true with most people, they also show that we can all come together in a peaceful manner because there is hope for us all.

♫ And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply"
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said "You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do"
So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that. Me workin' for you!" ♪

The company I worked for when I lived in Odessa, TX was looking for a pump repairman, they placed an ad in the local newspaper and our Store Manager was in charge of the interviews and hiring, I was office manager at the time so I got the pleasure of meeting the applicants, giving my opinion and discussing who was qualified for the position with the store manager, a lot of my recommendations were shot down simply because their hair was too long or the way they carried themselves gave him the impression they were not moral enough to work for us, “I’m not hiring no long hairs to work here, we don’t need anyone looking like that hanging around here” was the type of things he would say, I always wondered how upscale you had to look to qualify yourself worthy to repair pumps in an oilfield supply store.

I talked with a young man named James who had a good bit of experience in repairing pumps, he was knowledgeable about the stock we carried and very impressive when he not only explained how a pump worked but listed all the parts we needed to add to our shelves if we were serious about actually adding pump repairs into our services, I took the list he made and recommended him for an interview with our store manager, he was grilled by the store manager and his infectious personality not only got him hired but also added the list of items he suggested to our stock. James always wore a ball cap as did most people in this oilfield town, and right after he was hired Bobby (the store manager) came to me saying that I had done good by finding a clean cut person for him to hire, I just smiled because I knew James had a surprise for Bobby, just after James ninety day probation period was over Bobby went back to the repair shop and gave James the news of his raise and that his probation period was over, Bobby was talking to him about pumps when the subject of his interview and hiring came up.

Bobby: You wouldn’t believe all of the long hairs I had to skip over looking for a clean-cut man like you.

James: Yep I heard about you not wanting to hire no hippies, and that’s when I came in to apply for the job.

Bobby: Really where did you hear about that?

James: A Friend who is a better repairman than me told me.

Bobby: (Impressed with himself thinking someone had sent James) Who is your Friend?

James: (taking off his hat allowing a ponytail to roll halfway down his back) Some longhair you refused to hire.

Bobby stomped to my office wanting to know what we could do to get rid of James, I told him that I saw no reason to get rid of James as he was an excellent repairman, all the customers loved him, and Bobby had no problem with his hair when he hired him. James was one of the best employees we had and was still working there when I left the company.

♫ And the sign said anybody caught trespassin' would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house,
"Hey! What gives you the right?"
"To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep Mother Nature in"
"If God was here he'd tell you to your face, Man, you're some kinda sinner"

Now, hey you, mister, can't you read?
You've got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can't even watch, no you can't eat
You ain't supposed to be here
The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside Ugh! ♪

Those next couple of verses make me think of not being welcome around certain people, the company I retired from always had a Christmas party every year and a picnic in the spring for the employees, everyone always had a good time and the majority of the people who worked there were from the area, so naturally they were friends, you know how cliques work, if you are part of the bunch then all is well and if you are not then you are made to feel that you just don’t belong, my problem is that I was not from the area and up until the time I retired I actually never felt welcome at these events, we were always the couple sitting at a table by ourselves and  the few that were nice to us at times, always made it back to their clique leaving us feeling like we had done something wrong. I had some medical problems including a couple of minor strokes that forced me into an early retirement and rather than understanding my situation, the rumor around town was that I had faked it, now all I can say to that is I am not that good of an actor and would have much rather been working, my retirement party consisted of a watch being mailed to my house, that watch is still in the box packed away, because I am really ashamed to wear it due to being made to feel unworthy, I suppose I should have gotten myself a clique membership card years ago, but I’d rather have my self respect.

♪ And the sign said, "Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray"
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn't have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, "Thank you, Lord, for thinkin' 'bout me. I'm alive and doin' fine." ♫

Churches everywhere are places to worship and congregate with people of your faith, I have had both good and bad experiences with different churches in the past, I have been made to feel unworthy because I didn’t contribute the amount of funds other folks did, and I have been made to feel unworthy due to the fact I added my donations into the plate and did not put my name and the amount I was donating on the envelope provided, I feel that my contribution is between myself and God and not to be compared with other peoples contributions, so how dare a Deacon from the church contact me to let me know that my tithes are way less than they should be if they are not comparing. I also have had really good times and worship in other churches, I have been made to feel at home and also made to feel like I wanted to come back, Thank you Lord, for thinking about me. I'm alive and doing fine.

Judging people by their looks without getting to know them is something we all have been guilty of at one time or another, but as we get a bit older we learn that we are all the same so to say, we have the same feelings and we want basically the same things out of life, we “Put our pants on the same way” as I have been told in the past, so why is it that some people treat others so differently and how do we really gain anything by belittling others, judging people by how they look only makes you look bad, underneath peoples exterior are normally really good folks, and if you take time to get and know them you just may find a really good friend.

People who come in from other areas are not necessarily outsiders, they are most likely someone beginning a new chapter in their lives and will only feel like an outsider if you are involved in a clique and refuse to allow yourself time to accept someone who just may need a friend. Church is a place to worship, so many use it as a place to dress up and see who is the best in both looks and contributions, if you are going to church for the show then shame on you, if I go to a church and feel that it is filled with this atmosphere then I will be looking for a new church home, Church is the house of the Lord and if you want to put folks down in your home then so be it, but don’t drive good people away from church with your arrogance.

The sign of the times I see right now is that some people in our society have lost respect for one another, if we teach our children to respect each other and themselves, and to play nice with others then a lot of the problems I mentioned above will be lessened.

♪ Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? ♫


  1. BEAUTIFUL- One of my alltime favorite songs!

    Great post!

  2. Jimmy, what a great post.
    I love the story, and the song is a great song all the way around.
    I think I am going to listen to it right now!

  3. Thank You John, I always liked that song too

    Hey Joe, I appreciate you Sir, I was afraid I went too long on this one but the song helped it along.

  4. FAB-U-LOUS post, Jimmy!

    There is so much you have shared here that I could CHEER about, however I will choose your ending paragraph that sums it up completely....

    "The sign of the times I see right now is that some people in our society have lost respect for one another, if we teach our children to respect each other and themselves, and to play nice with others then a lot of the problems I mentioned above will be lessened."


    Thanks for sharing, buddy! Excellent!

  5. First of all...I love that song too! I think you did such a nice job weaving in and out of the lyrics and tying it into your thoughts and experiences. I agree and also am somewhat ashamed that I have judged the book by its cover (so to say...I stole that from you!) I have this patient named Russel who came to my office with big rings in his ears, tatted all over his body, purple hair and rotten teeth. I thought to myself...he will never do nor have the money to do what is necessary to fix his teeth. Well, by gosh was I ever proven wrong. It took us four years and many appointments, but Russel is a devoted patient of mine. We fixed every tooth and in the process I came to find out he was an intelligent Iraq vet who needed to express himself. Over the years he has removed the rings, cut and stopped coloring his hair and kind of started to look what I might consider normal. But it doesn't matter...because once I got to know him he just became Russel to me.

  6. This is one GREAT post !!!!
    I am so with you on all of tired of the judgement that comes from others on the outward- when all that matters is the heart.
    RESPECT is key.
    So right on this!!!!!
    (May God help us when our kids grow up and then theirs grow up.....and no respect has been "exampled" or taught. Pretty scary place to be !!!!)
    GREAT post!

    Have a super new week.

  7. So much wisdom here, Jimmy. We love our current church because it is 'come as you are'....jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc. Most of the guys in the band are wearing baseball caps. The Lord isn't concerned about our exterior. Some people see it as being lazy, but you've got to wonder who they are trying to impress?

  8. What a great song AND a great post! I teach some students that look fairly scary sometimes, but once I get to know them, they aren't scary at all. Sometimes they are just searching for their identities, or fulfilling a role that they think society already has for them. Thanks for this thought-provoking piece.

  9. Hey Ron, I am so proud you enjoyed this one, there is a lot I shared that could have been left out but life’s lessons have come through some of the experiences.

    Thank You Buddy I appreciate you.

  10. Susie, I think songs we hear throughout life have always told a story; some of us get different things out of them and I have always related them to real life as that is where they originate from.

    It appears that Russel has become a friend so to say over the years rather than just a patient; it is so good to get through the first impression and meet the real person.

  11. Thank You Dawn, “May God help us when our kids grow up and then theirs grow up.....and no respect has been "exampled" or taught. Pretty scary place to be !!” You are so right and it is up to us now to be that example, so many now days don’t teach respect but I pray that it’s not too late to make a change.

  12. Cocotte, Your Church sounds like one I would enjoy, all should be “Come as you are” because as you pointed our the Lord is looking in your heart and not at what you are wearing, I don’t see casual dress as lazy and I also don’t see going to church as a fashion show, hopefully we can find a church like yours.

  13. Hey Betty, “Sometimes they are just searching for their identities, or fulfilling a role that they think society already has for them” Excellent point, our kids have so much in front of them and it appears they are growing up a whole lot faster than we did so to say, yes some have to live up to what is put in front of them, the old “Peer Pressure” thing, keep up or be left behind they are thinking, when in my opinion it’s either follow the crowd or make your own way, too many are taught to follow.

  14. Great post Jimmy~ It reminds me of the mornings 39 years ago when I tucked Neil's ponytail into his hard hat before he went to work.
    Its great you are true to yourself Jimmy and an honest man. I don't know how anyone can fake a stroke! All I'll say to your church situation is that you have the right heart and I hope you always make your own way. :)

  15. Thank You Susan, I still have a tendancy to try and tuck my hair up under my hat after wearing it long for a number of years, I can imagine tucking a ponytail into a hard hat but we have to do what works.

    I appreciate your kind words and yes I plan to stay true to myself because it's not worth it otherwise.

  16. Jimmy,
    I have read every one of your post.. For me this is Class "A" it..

    I work for corporate America in the IT industry..Top feel me here, right? We have the cliques there as well and like you I am just a simple woman. I feel like I don't belong. Fancy cars, the latest fashions are unimportant to me. Example: I did an impromptu quiz one day of people's thoughts on the war.. Fact: 3 people said "Oh, that's still going on"..So consumed in their consumerism.. I love the outcasts people.. I call myself the Purple Converse...

    This is just a damn fine post and yes, I love that song!!!!!

  17. Lynne, This means a lot to me my Friend, Thank You


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