In the vestibule, a man wearing a leather tool belt worked on a ladder. I watched him for several moments. He made me think of my father seventy-some years ago, just starting out.
I checked my watch again. I didn't want to be too early and definitely not late. It was time to go in. As I walked past the man on the ladder, it reminded me of a story my father told about Mickey Cunningham.
When my father was first learning the electrical business, he worked side by side with Mickey Cunningham, a veteran electrician and long-time employee of the Rossetti brothers. Mickey taught my father his trade and, over time, they developed a father-son relationship. It was Mickey who instilled in my father many of the values he tried to pass on to us: patience, integrity, discipline, loyalty. Mickey had a wife and three children so, to make extra money, he would moonlight, taking on small jobs on his own. Many times he would ask for my father's help.
They were scheduled to do a job early one Saturday morning. Mickey gave my father the directions to the job site. They needed some supplies, which my father volunteered to pick up, and then they meet him there at seven thirty sharp. He overslept and, in the rush to get there on time, he bypassed picking up the supplies. He finally arrived fifteen minutes late.
"You're late," Mickey said.
"It's only quarter to eight, Mick, what's the big deal?"
Mickey stopped, looked at my father, and pointed his finger at him. "If I tell you seven thirty, I mean seven thirty, not seven thirty-one. Remember that. It might not seem important to you now, but someday you'll understand. Now, did you pick up the things we need?"
My father looked at him. "I was running late, so I―"
"Joe, when you say you're gonna do something, you gotta do it. A man's word is everything. Remember what I tell you. You'll thank me someday."
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