A broader vision of Stan
Oct. 15, 1982
On those rare times when the radio plays Kenny Rankin music I can't help think of Stan.
In the earlier days at Cosmetics Plus -- when he and I work side-by-side in the warehouse – Stan used to play tapes he made from Kenny Rankin albums, tapes made using a condenser mic because he had not yet figured out how to record them any other way. So, sometimes I could hear a cough or him shushing someone in the background.
Over repeated listings, these small additions became aspects of the music I came to expect and hearing them on the radio now I anticipate.
Then, when they don’t come when they should, I'm disappointed when they're not there
Kenny Rankin wasn't the only music he recorded to listen to while we worked but was by far his favorite. He like Jackson Browne, James Taylor the kind of music radio with later labeled as soft rocks these tapes became the soundtrack of our lives, a mellow underpinning to the day-to-day routines we shared for two or so years before Donald made enough money to buy his own building across town and to expand his business enough to hire other employees and to condemn Stan to management position he craved, for but proved unqualified to do.
Stam could not and often would not delegate authority. So, when he got his office in a new place, we called it the “Fishbowl” because he had a large picture window that looked out onto the warehouse and he seemed to be floating inside it waiting to be fed.
Stan became miserable and angry, largely because he believed he got sold a bill of goods when he took the job with Donald and because being manager looked more tempting than it actually became.
Stan’s family originated in steel country in Pennsylvania which is how he got into metal work while still in high school -- though he grew up in Newark at the time when it began to change due to white flight.
He didn't move far when he got married slipping over the border into nearby Belleville, a mostly white enclave that bordered some of the worst of Newark’s ghettoes.
As a teen, he was more than a little wild, a typical high school kid who like to drink to excess though he's somehow kept himself out of jail and out of the hospital.
He hated metal work, but it paid good and allowed him to go to school at night, even if it did take him seven years to earn his degree in business.
He would often recall how tough those days were and how tired he was trying to hoist and cut sheets of metal by day and crack school books by night.
He said he kept looking ahead to a day when he would earn his living with his brain and not his back and would not have to come home and treat the cuts bruises and burns, he got from his non-stop struggle with steel.
He wanted to wear white shirts and a tie and a suit jacket and not the work clothes he sweated through within an hour of punching the time clock.
Every day, he looked ahead to when he would get his degree, his key out of the sweatshop and into the dignity he believed a college education would endow him with.
Stanley was too working-class to fully understand how the system worked, how people like him would only trade one sweatshop for another and, unless he went to the right kind of school and came from the right kind of family, the degree would be a useless piece of paper.
If not a member of America's elite, Donald understood he would need another way to climb the social ladder and was able to manipulate the system to get him there and to better to guarantee his children became even better than he did
Stanley must have felt the first twinges of the truth when the degree did not immediately turn him into a Cinderella at the prince’s ball and he did not get the kind of offers he dreamed about in the steel company.
Part of this was his age and the fact that he was already married, he needed a higher salary to support his family when younger kids popping out of the university could afford to work for less.
The fact was, Stan earned more cutting steel by far than any of the office jobs he worked as temporary on a trial basis.
Donald offered a position with a future which meant if Stan took the job in a startup company, the position would eventually grow into the kind of job Stan dreamed of.
It was a tough choice taking, a job that paid less than steel metal work with the hope that it would bring him what he wanted or wait to see if a more conventional office offered him something closer to what he really wanted.
Practicality won out.