Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shirley Rubaloff - R.I.P.

Shirley Rubaloff, a co-worker of mine and one of our long-time purchasing agents, passed away a few weeks ago.  Our company owner asked us to write down our memories of Shirley and any funny stories we had so that he could give them to Shirley's family. 

Here's mine. 

When I first met Shirley Rubaloff, Brent Shaver and I were running the Jukt Micronics metal shop. Shirley was the dispatcher for Jukt’s single box truck driver. Since all of the Jukt shops were within a few blocks of each other, that one driver and a flatbed trailer towed by a pickup were usually enough to get any job done.

Sometime during one of our first major Wal-Mart rollouts, the metal shop ran low on some casters. I called Shirley in a panic, begging her to get more casters to us before we ran out.  Otherwise, the world would end. She said she’d try. Thirty minutes later, she called and said that Casters Of Fort Worth didn’t have any, their competitors didn’t have any, and that we had drained the supply in all of the west coast warehouses. She said she was working on getting a shipment to the metal shop in THREE WEEKS.

It took three Serbian welders to scrape me off the ceiling. THREE WEEKS? SHIRLEY, I’LL BE DEAD IN THREE WEEKS !!!! WHAT CAN WE DO? CAN WE GET SOME ONTO A PLANE IN CHINA ??? THREE WEEKS???

Shirley started laughing. “I’m just messing with you, Allen,” she said. “Jimmy is already on the way to your shop with them. “

When my heart rate returned to normal, I told her that I was going to get her back. I would have my revenge. Shirley was laughing like I’d never heard her laugh. I said “Shirley Rubaloff, I WILL get even with you.” She hung up the phone, still laughing.

And just like Shirley promised, Jimmy The Driver (I forget his real name) arrived at the metal shop with my casters in 30 minutes.

Jimmy was a good guy, but unfortunately for him, he worked for Shirley The Enemy. Therefore he was fair game. Jimmy made the mistake of asking me if I needed anything from Home Depot. “Yeah,” I said. “Get me 12 cans of Dehydrated Water.” Jimmy pulled his notepad out of his pocket and wrote down “12 cans of Dehydrated Water”.

Jeff Gearhardt walked by the office. I said “Hey, I’m sending Jimmy to Home Depot for some cans of Dehydrated Water. Do you need anything?”

“Yeah,” Jeff said, not missing a lick. “I need a can of grinder sparks.” (Blacksmiths and metalworkers have been sending rookies, journeymen and apprentices after containers of sparks since the Middle Ages. And we still think it’s funny.)

Jimmy dutifully wrote down “One can of grinder sparks.” Jimmy was a great driver, but he wasn’t the brightest light in the Jukt Bakery Case.

Then Fane came along. Fane is a veteran of 40 years of trucking, shipping and cussing. I asked Fane if she needed anything from Home Depot besides grinder sparks and dehydrated water- Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge.

Fane decided that she needed things like Rainbow Paint, Rubber Nails, a Skyhook, a glass hammer, and a metric crescent wrench. Jimmy wrote down all of it, the entire catalog of non-existent manufacturing products, and went to Home Depot. This was going to be one of the greatest Snipe Hunts of all time.

Two hours later, yes, two hours later, I got a call from Shirley. “Allen, what in the world have you done to my driver? He’s wandering around Home Depot looking for Dehydrated Water and Grinder Sparks.” We both laughed until we cried.

Shirley vowed to get back at me. Occasionally I would tease her about it, and she always promised she would get even.

A few years passed. I forgot about Shirley’s vow of revenge. Then the purchasing department got extremely busy. Shirley didn’t have time to dispatch drivers any more. She met with the owners about who should take her place supervising the drivers, taking care of maintenance and keeping up with all of their stops. The owners met with me afterwards and told me that the drivers were now mine.

I left that meeting to go work out some details with Shirley. When I went into her office, and I’ll never, ever, ever forget this, Shirley smiled at me and said “Allen, I told you I’d get even.”

Yeah. She won.

Shirley, we miss you very, very much.

1 comment:

Dave Killion said...

Thank you, Whited. That was beautiful.