Diary of a Drywaller, 1968–2018

Doug Bellamy / December 2017

We are going to cover an abbreviated version of 50 years. Fifty years of lessons learned, failures and accomplishments. Some may find this article in large part a rehashing of my last two articles; I will concede to that. However, it is not without merit, and there is a method to my madness. I can square this circle. In the first place, instincts dictate that anyone other than consistent readers of this column need to know where I’m coming from. This serves as a preface to what I have now renamed “Diary of a Drywaller.”
In the second place, for those loyal readers it’s a reminder of past points as we embark on a journey similar to my last very popular series, which took two years to fully express in the form of “Letters to a General Superintendent.” That 24-part series received incredible reviews from readers and even our editor. To put it in her words, it ended with a “drop mic moment” that no one, including her, saw coming! Get ready for more of the same.
Last month we talked about how you will likely work harder than ever when you love what you do. But that flies in the face of the old adage that if you find something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. Which is it?
The next topic we got into was this microwave generation of youngsters and, at times, oldsters who don’t want to work at anything they don’t love. Zero sacrifice is their code. Pathetic souls. These shortsighted individuals do themselves and others irreparable harm. Meanwhile, they are probably living off of mom and dad or sucking our nation dry by relying on the system to keep them afloat.
We followed by emphasizing sometimes you have to take the back door to the things you love, even though the front door might not be all that loveable. Drywall? Not necessarily all that loveable. Writing, on the other hand, was my love. So then, to support my family, I spent 50 years as a writing drywaller—and contractor, of course.
As I’ve said before, these articles open up some topics and commentary that I might not have revealed at another time in life. But now, with retirement staring me in the face, I have a different perspective and less vulnerability. Who cares if I share a bad-but-good picture that displays warts and all, if by chance my openness and willingness to be painfully honest helps someone avoid similar pitfalls and learn something a little less painfully than I did? I’m doing someone a favor, and I hope it’s you.
This will not be your typical diary offering merely a perspective on an incident or time frame. It is a look back at the past, followed by current perspective in the present, coupled with thoughts and feelings about how I once viewed life and how I see it now. Perhaps one might call it a “diography”?
Summer 1968: High school is a bore. My sophomore year—boooooring! No wonder I’m sleeping my way through classes. Except journalism, the school newspaper, that’s an easy ace. I love that class. I wish that was my only class everything else is a waste of time. The other classes don’t seem relevant to life as I see it. Basketball, girls, drugs and poetry. That’s my focus. Songwriting? A novelist or maybe a newspaper reporter. That would be cool. After all, what does all this learning have to do with that? I don’t need any of it.
I could get a job at a gas station for $1.50 an hour and get by just fine until I’m an established writer. If nothing else works out, I’ll write. I’m good at it; most everyone I know says so, and I love it. It’s the only thing that makes any sense to me. Meanwhile, Ornie, my neighbor, has a summer job in drywall, whatever that is. I’ll see if I can get hired on with him, I could sure use some cash.
Current reflection: I’ll have more time and space to expand on my current reflection as I look back on this period but hopefully drop you a hint in the meanwhile with the following quotes:
“Hire a teenager while they still know everything.”—Author unknown
“You don’t know what you don’t know.”—Author unknown (at least to me)
“I have determined and deem it so, the more you learn, the less you know.”—Doug Bellamy, 1978

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at doug@altadrywall.com.