Thursday, March 04, 2010

You're cleared for landing

One of the big stories in the news is about a little boy that went to work one day last month with his air traffic controller father, at JFK International Airport. Daddy let him talk to some planes. The Father's supervisor and coworkers were there. They thought it was cute. So did the pilots the little boy talked to.

There's going to be a big investigation now and probably a whole lot of new rules and regulations. The father will probably lose his job and likely never work as an air traffic controller again.

I don't see the problem here. I used to go with my Father and Grandfather to work and all sorts of other places. I did things under their supervision that a little child would never be allowed to do on his own. How many little kids sat on their fathers lap in the driver's seat of the car on a long family road trip and drove? I did. I think it was pretty common. You'd never see anybody doing that with their little kids today.

It wasn't that long ago that little boys no older or not much older, were participating fully in the life of society. They worked full time in mines, factories, farms and businesses.

I knew this old guy once, he's dead now. He lived on his own for as long as he could remember. As a small child, he lived in the main branch of The Bank of Italy, in San Francisco, slept on a little pallet in a utility closet. There was a toilet and sink available. The bank executives gave him small change. What more did a boy need? He never spent a day in school. He was never even sure of his real name.

When the big earthquake in '06 hit, he stayed with the rubble of the bank and protected the records and assets as best he could. Where was he going to go? It was the only home he knew. The Giannini brothers took notice of him after that and he became a trusted employee. When the bank reopened, he wasn't tall enough to stand at a teller's window, so they put him to researching and verifying loan applications. It soon became evident that he didn't make many bad loans. By the time he was twelve he was acting as a senior financial officer and investing on his own. He often traveled independently for the bank, while still in his teens, representing them in sensitive negotiations all over the country. He never had a high profile job with what would soon become the Bank of America but when he retired, he was one of the highest paid and had a very high net worth. Even after 65 years of service, they tried to entice him to stay on. Just a stupid little boy.

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