A Vestige Of Accomplishment..#176 (80’s)

Glen Piper Superintendent Of Schools

Two major concerns in Gary’s life were beginning to weigh heavily on him, the first was the enlightenment of the Apostolic Christian Church and a never before spiritual  calling to acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.   Gary approaching Church Elder Ronald Nelson questioning him of the prerequisites of becoming a brother in the church, Ron explaining the cleansing rites of repentance, its time frame, acceptance and the role of an Elder. His second concern was work related and in direct conflict with his first, one of being involved in the falsification of  warranty paperwork at the direction of Steve Miller.  Gary having realizing there was no way he could compromise his commitment to the Lord,  entering Steve Miller’s office, a decision to terminate his employee status at Kiowa Service having been determined.  The conversation was brief, Gary communicating his abrogation about leaving according Steve a two-week notice affirming a stay to the first of July, fulfilling  the final consummation of the harvest season.  Steve raising from his desk,  presenting an understanding , having discussed the parts person discernment of his warranty position in the past and was aware of Gary’s affiliation with the Apostolic Church. He thanked his departing employee for his service,  offering his hand,  aspiring him well in his future endeavors.  Gary leaving, relieved, his resolution accomplished, with a wonderment persisting of what the Lord had in store for him.

The final two weeks brought a paradox of emotion having sojourned at the Service Company for over five years, sometime experiencing twist and turns on this enlightening journey thru this agricultural John Deere environment.  The forty-three years old, unemployed and bolstering a layman’s resume of jack of all trades and master of none, experienced in everything from wiring the arming circuit of a missile nuclear warhead to providing the correct shears for a 16 bottom John Deere plow was now seeking an employment opportunity.  Gary contemplated the possibilities, Humphrey Implement, well acquainted with three of Bud Humphreys four sons, Jim, Kim and Sam, with other prospective  employers encompassing his contingency list, including  the City of Kiowa and Barber County.  Gary realized  another option existed,  but would be very reluctant to impose it, Murrow Construction, discerning  difficulties could prevail working for his father-in-law.  His quest was about to begin when his wife noticed an ad published in the Kiowa News, Jan pointing out,  USD 255,  the Kiowa’s School District was accepting applications for three custodian/driver positions to fill vacancies at the Grade School and Hardtner Middle School.

Wanda Eckert

The next morning,  Gary entered the USD 255 office on Main St.,  introducing himself to the lady seated at a desk making the acquaintance of Wanda Eckert,  the Superintendent’s secretary.  Gary mentioning the Kiowa News ad about the openings for custodian/drivers, leaving with application in hand, thanking her saying he would return.   The application information completed,  Gary once again returned to the district office, with a smile Wanda motioning him towards the open door to the superintendent’s office.   Sitting behind his desk was Glen Piper,  the newly commissioned superintendent of schools who Gary was acquainted with.   Glen and his wife Donna sometimes attending the Apostolic Christian Church with Donna’s Grandmother, plus Gary had assisted Glen and his two son’s Ty and Troy at the Service Co. securing parts during harvest, Donna’ family having a farm at Burlington.  Glen welcoming him,  beckoning Gary with his application to be seated,  the superintendent reaching for the hand-held paper, apprising that Gary was applying for a position as a custodian/driver,  then glancing  briefly at  the application,  looking up at Gary and without hesitation asserting,  “you have the job”.   The first reaction from Gary was one of  speechlessness,  then a acquiescent  “thank you”.   Piper continued with an annotation that as policy the notice in the paper would continue for one more edition,  followed by a notification to applicants of their acceptance or failure for the position at which time it would become public. Leaving the district office Gary understood the unsaid message, the ensuring events of the morning having been thrust upon him without forethought,  sensing  mixed feelings, one of accomplishment but another of humility and most of all an overriding essence that a higher authority had intervened.

Gary, Pam Cooper & Bud Winters

The three new custodian/drivers given their official employment notification were instructed to join the two prevailing high school custodian Joe Cox and Craig Ragan to meet with Superintendent Piper at the district office.  Gary having made the acquaintance of Joe and Craig but was introduced to Pam Cooper and Bud Winters both residence of Hardtner. Glen giving a presentation about his expectations from  the group adding they were to answer to the principal of the school and like the academia, they were subject to his discretion and supposition, meaning in reality they worked for him. Continuing he gave the building assignments, Bud Winters securing the  middle school position at Hardtner,  Pam Cooper would join Gary at the Grade School in Kiowa and Joe and Craig to remain at the high school.

Veda Holt & Cathy Cox

With the school custodial assignments in place the new employees would have to fulfill the second part of their custodian/drive positions, that of bus drivers.  The State of Kansas requiring all school bus driver to have a valid class B driver’s license and attend prescribed mandatory driver safety and first aid classes.  The first order of business was to obtain their class B license,  five member from USD 255 were to go to the DMV in Medicine Lodge for the written and driving test exam.  The assemblage composed of a recently hired South Barber tennis coach,  a high school teacher, Veda Holt,  the new grade school music instructor, Cathy Cox and new custodians Pam Cooper and Gary, Bud Winters being exempt having already licensed.  The drive to Medicine Lodge was anything but subdued, Gary discovering that Veda Holt, who was more or less in charge, was quite a conversationalist keeping everyone entertained with South Barber related anecdotes.  Arriving and completing the written exam, Gary standing in line behind the young tennis coach noticing that he had missed one too many on his test, but the coach having kept up a running conversation with the DMV lady who seemed to overlook his failed results, filing his test in a waste basket, confirming that good looks and youth sometimes makes a difference.  The group filing outside accompanied by a driving examiner leading him to the school suburban they had arrived in,  the examiner halting the procession shaking his head,  letting them know  the suburban didn’t meet the test requirements for the class B license.  A perplexed Veda Holt returned inside with the DMV instructor placing a call to the school district office.  Wanda Eckert  transferring the call to Glen, the superintendent assuring Veda that he would take care of the situation.   Twenty minutes later, a Medicine Lodge 16 passenger school bus arrived, the superintendent having contacted the district office at Medicine Lodge about borrowing a bus.  The five having meant the license requirement, all that remained was their attendance in the Driver’s Safety and First Aid classes which also would be in Medicine Lodge.  The driver’s safety class for the school employees were instructed by the Kansas Highway Patrol and the first-aid class by a representative of the state EMS.  The suddenness of events in one’s life finding Gary’s sequestered uncertainty beginning to make itself visible.

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