By Dan Bodine
Hee, hee! I knew I’d hear a better one someday! The recent snow storms in California — as rare as they are for the state — have uncovered one. An 81-yr.-old man has survived almost a week snowbound in his auto thanks to eating croissants and candy that he had with him, CNN reported Thursday.
That tops my 8-day spell of testing God in mid-’60s, commuting to work nightly from college at Arlington to Texas Instruments Inc. (ti) in North Dallas’ suburb, Plano — and living off complimentary doughnuts served at break periods during the night.
And a peanut butter-sandwich maybe every other day. Plus, a commuter friend’s breakfast treat near the end to get me closer to the payday line! And I was only 22 at the time. Not 81! Hijole!
So another true Glory-To-God survival tale I’m remembering to tell, as I’m approaching 80 myself now!
Oh, how few times we think to thank God for gettin g us through past events in our lives, until a similar incident comes along to pull back the shades on our ol’ memory bank! Huh?
When I was hired at ti in April ’64 and returned there from the Navy in early ’71, supposedly there were over 25,000 employees at the Plano campuses alone. (Well-circulated gossip put it!) The company mostly manufactured semi-conductors (diodes, i.e.), capacitors, transistors and calculators.
Now with branches all over the world compacting both production costs and employees, number of employees considerably less, I’d imagine. With many more products, too! Progress!
But working full-time in ’64 and attending university classes at now UT-Arlington full-time, was a difficult row-to-hoe, yes! But sooner or later in Life one realizes a person gets thru Life based on something called God’s mercy!
Millions now are still educating themselves daily across the globe, I guess. With help still from the Almighty! And an explosion of making life-more-comfortable technology, that softens space and lengthens time too, I might add.
What brought on my “testing God” crisis was the monthly vacation “shutdown” that Ti had every August for its employees, the one that occurred my first summer there.
Those who didn’t have earned vacation pay coming instead went to an unofficial layoff basis, and missed two paychecks — until the middle of September (6 weeks), when the next bi-monthly regular checks would be cut.
For that early September earnings spell after employees had returned to work, of course.
Even if you had enough money to get you thru non-working August, you still had to wait ’til middle of September to get a check. Anyone else nearly starved to death, like me?
And worsening this — in my situation — was a streak of mule-headed stubbornness! That is, it was during my early being-set-straight period with the Almighty:
“Am I responsible for this “many-weeks” of not getting a paycheck, too?” I complained. “I mean, cut me some slack here, ol’ Lord! ‘Ya want me to start mowing lawns as another source of income? And stay in school, too?!!”
“Well, you weren’t prepared!” He more-or-less replied. Which didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, no. But it certainly was a strange thought to me then!
“You knew it was coming, didn’t you?. Why hadn’t you set a little money back? Instead of wasting it all on beer and going to all those honky-tonks every weekend the way you were!?? And besides, the only reason you’re in school is to avoid the Vietnam War draft! Isn’t that right?!”
(Stay away from these arguments with God! Your Higher Power doesn’t like being 2nd-guessed.)
But I’d only started at ti in April, I think, after quitting my 2-yr. job in the shipping department at Mrs. Baird’s Bread over on the west side of Fort Worth. Which was a shorter commute.
Ti even though with the longer commute was heaven for me, yes! All those mostly young women there working on these light but tedious, circuitry assembly operations! Friendly voices.
And as extra fringe benefits, too, oh all those weekend pool-side parties at what was then the huge Village Apartments complex across the freeway from ti.
With repeated trips to refill drinks to someone’s bathtub on the lower level, which had been filled with Everclear and orange juice! Whoo! What times!
But of course those parties weren’t accessible to me in this late August/Mid-September spell. I was grounded on weekends! No dinero!
I couldn’t afford gasoline to prowl around. Had clung to a $10 bill to pay the older married women in my commuting carpool from Arlington for my rides those first two-September weeks!
The first few weeks of just the ’64 August, I’d managed eating daily hamburgers at some local joint off campus. Probably the 19-cent McDonalds!
And then going through peanut butter and bread back at the apartment. Or whatever frozen food entrees I’d managed to stock up on. Very few, they were.
And of course, ti doughnuts at night when September finally hit! Survival mode, I was in. Yes. Faking it to the end, of course!
Entering into that September, I’d run thru my remaining peanut butter sandwiches after the first few days!
What now, Brown Cow?! you ask yourself in times like these.
Especially if you’re a pride-filled young man couple years out of high school still struttin’-your-stuff! A foolish boy-man thinking he’s a man.
‘Ya wanna go beg for food inside the Student Union Building’s cafeteria?! No doubt I asked Jethro, my alter ego, once or twice. Like you’ve seen a few other down-and-outers do occasionally!
No, he’d stubbornly rather gobble up tons of doughnuts at work every night at ti!!! And that’s basically how we made it. For six days, anyway, and what Jethro and I were determined would’ve been eight straight days all total, too.
But for a Saving Grace incident that helped me through the last weekend — before the next Monday night’s mid-month payday arrived.
On that Saturday morning, coming back home to Arlington from that Friday night’s midnight shift, a kindly married woman (a commuter friend I’ll identify only as Bess) — invited me into her home as she was getting out of the van, for breakfast!
“Come on inside, Danny, and I’ll whip up some breakfast for us!” more-or-less were her words. “You look hungry!“
She didn’t have to beckon me twice, although the tone of her command did hit me a bit surprisingly.
My stomach was low-and-depressed at facing the weekend without food — such time it’d been told firmly was coming, yes! Bow ‘ur neck, Jethro!
So I got out and followed her in. Like, You bet! Three more days on an empty stomach, Jethro and I weren’t looking forward to, no!
Bess and her husband, who worked at General Dynamics in Fort Worth — and their two grown boys — all lived just northwest of the college campus in Arlington. Not a long walk to my apartment afterwards, no.
I think instinctively, after watching my sagging face for several days in the computer van — both going to Dallas at night and returning to Arlington in the mornings — something had scratched Bess’ suspicions.
She’d never mentioned her sudden breakfast appetite, nor why she’d thought about me, earlier. Just an incident of God’s intervention by sending a good person, it was.
I gobbled up her pancakes and eggs, told her many thanks, then walked the short blocks over to the campus, and across it to my apartment.
With Jethro and I both fully convinced that the good in the world is much greater than the bad.
And we slept the whole rest-of-the-day and night. Spent the Sunday studying for classes ahead.
Breathing easily again, knowing tomorrow night would be payday! An ordeal’s finish line.
And realizing, too — maybe the first dose of salt in my stepped-up maturity processing — that getting across such lines most certainly involve something other than tooting a “not by the hair on my chinny chin chin” defense determination!
Praise the Lord for Goodness in the world!
— 30 —
2 thoughts on “Survival On ‘Croissants & Candy’ Tops My ‘Ti Doughnuts’”
Dang! That’s why you can eat so many donuts in one setting.
Hee, hee! Sis, I peddled these things from door-to-door in Cleburne my 4th and 5th grades, I think. U were a toddler. Down just north of where Marshall and Jawan (sp) had their Texaco station, there was a couple with a doughnuts shop. Sat back on stilts over the creek some. Went down on my bicycle after school and filled up my bike handlebar’s wire basket with 4 doz. sacks and 4 half-dozen sacks (6 doz.), and peddled those from house-to-house ’til I’d sold ’em all. 60 cents/doz. and 30 cents 1/2 doz. I got to keep a dime out of every dozen! Helped buy my clothes then.