Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 17
Doug Bellamy / June 2019
1978–1988. It takes a long time to climb a mountain, but only a nanosecond to fall from the top.
I had finally settled into Alta, running work and going through a lot of back and forth as we (the other foreman and I) worked for one another. By this time, I was running a large crew of finishers and handling about six projects. One day the owner showed up, which was very unusual. He rarely visited a project. As he slowly drove into the site, I also noticed a second silhouette in the cab of the truck. As my eyes fixated on that figure, I realized that I knew this person. It hit me like a Greyhound bus. Alta had grown sufficiently to require a field superintendent, and this would be him. My boss? My stomach slightly sickened at the thought.
As soon as I realized what was happening, I instantly resented it. Why? Why wasn’t I chosen as superintendent? I was certainly qualified. By this time I had been there about five years and very faithfully attended to every responsibility. I literally treated the business as though it were my own. So why, why not me?
I spent the next six months or so struggling on several levels. First, I had to get over the fact that I had been passed by. Second, the particular individual that turned out to be my boss really wasn’t doing his job. Third, he would mysteriously walk my projects when they were incomplete and mark all sorts of things that would have normally been done prior to completion. They were obvious things that didn’t need to be marked. I felt insulted. I would arrive on site and find units that were all marked up. I found that very, very irritating. Furthermore, when there was something that I really needed from him, his response time was very slow, and sometimes he didn’t even follow up at all. It felt nearly impossible to respect him and submit to his authority.
I was growing more and more bitter and resentful. But, you know what they say: Life will either make you bitter or make you better! It was about that time that I was struck by a particular Bible verse in the book of Psalms: “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
The takeaway from that verse was a simple one-liner. Promotion is of the Lord. Note the absence of the direction “north” in the verse above; meanwhile, every other direction, is covered. East, west, south, but no north? Promotion comes from the north or above. It comes from the heavens. You may want to read that verse a few times and let it sink in.
While it wasn’t easy to accept, if I believed that verse, I had to face the fact that my boss wasn’t there accidentally. He was placed there supernaturally. The flipside, which is equally true, is that if I hadn’t been promoted, it was because God hadn’t promoted me. I didn’t need to be focused on mankind and what they were doing, I needed to pay attention to God and what He was doing.
All of this took a bit of the wind out of my sails, as well as some rebellion and the lack of submission from my stubborn heart. I began to see everything differently. A bit of an epiphany, you might say. The lesson that I learned was that life as I now knew it—my life—was in God’s control. Now, I know how that plays out in some people’s minds. I’m not saying you have to believe any of this. As I’ve said all along, I’m just telling you precisely what happened. Do with it as you will.
Finally, I told my superintendent that I was ready, willing and able to assist him in any way. I admitted that I had struggled to accept his authority but finally realized that I should submit to him as my boss and .... He stopped me mid-sentence. “That’s kind of you” he interjected “I respect you for that, but a few days ago I put in my resignation and I’m leaving the area.”
Within three days, the owner asked me if I would take the job. As he approached me, I knew precisely what was about to happen. I could feel it in the core of my being. I had passed an important test. I never mentioned any of my struggles, and he knew nothing of the battle that had ensued. I’m nearly certain that he thought what he was about to do was his idea. I knew better.
As I accepted my new role, I knew who had actually promoted me and as a result of that, I was brimming with confidence. However, my first day, that foreman who had been so concerned and threatened, came into the office, dumped his company tools on the floor and quit. You’ll never guess what happened next.
Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.