Why not? I’m still unemployed and the state of Connecticut will pay for the training, so what have I got to lose.
Electric Boat/General Dynamics is hiring literally hundreds of welders. They offer great pay, full benefits, and year-round employment. That’s a trifecta that I haven’t had in nearly 20 years. I was told that I would almost be guaranteed a job once I finished the course. So, I signed up.
When I started the class, there were 20 students. There are 19 of us left as we approach the end of Week 8. Our instructors tell us that we are the most talented and best class yet, out of the three previous classes they have taught.
However, there always has to be a student that is the last in class. That’s just the way it works. You know, the one who struggles to comprehend the material, asks lots of questions, and just doesn’t quite “get it.”
Hi. That’s me. The class coordinator told me, “We call you the anchor. Somebody has to be the caboose of the train. That’s you, but it’s okay. You’ve got a good attitude and you will make a good employee.”
I failed the visual inspection of my weld project 3 times before I could submit a piece of my work to be strength tested. An instructor placed my fourth attempt in the mechanical bender in order to see if my weld would hold up against extreme pressure and just bend, not break. It’s supposed to look like the picture above.
“Wow! I’ve never seen a piece just violently snap right in half before. That’s not good. Let me try your other piece,” said my instructor.
“I’ve never seen this. Never.”
“Well, that’s what I’m here for, Vic. To show you shit you’ve never seen before. It’s a teaching moment.”
He laughed and then asked me, “Have you gotten a job offer from EB?”
“Nope. I’m guessing this a great example of why not.”
I returned to my welding booth feeling dejected because I had failed again. Not just a little, a lot!
It’s Week 8 and I can’t pass Week 2 material. What am I doing here? I am not a welder! Why am I still in this class? What’s the teaching moment, Peter? That’s what I am, a teacher. I teach and lead by example. What is it?
Perhaps, I was meant to be a student in the class not so much so I could learn something for myself, but rather to teach others. To give the instructors an opportunity to expand their teaching skills. “What do we do with a horrible welder that has a great attitude?” To give the coordinator an example for future classes. “We had a guy in the last class who was a horrible welder but he was an example of a great employee. He showed up on time, he didn’t miss a class, followed our instructions, and he wasn’t here to socialize and make friends. He was here to learn how to weld. Be like Peter.” To be an example to my classmates that no matter how much you struggle always be kind, be thankful, and be significant, because although you may not be the anchor or the caboose, someone else is.
Many of my classmates have received job offers from Electric Boat even though we are not yet done with the course. As of this writing, I have not. And I don’t expect that I will receive an invite to join EB. I’m okay with that, really, I am.
You see, I am already working. I’m working on just being me. I’m working at being a teacher. It’s not a job for me; I love who I am. I love teaching and helping others despite the horrible conditions I find myself in sometimes.
I hope this post inspires you to look at failure from a different perspective. Every break and every failed attempt puts us one step closer to success.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.