I first learned about wind power in West Texas. I have some apartment complexes out there and one is marketed to the upper level oil-patch folks. We had a group of executives and engineers with the wind-power program move in. One of the Engineers moved into the apartment across from the corporate apartment I keep for my company, and I got acquainted with him; he was really a nice guy and very intelligent. One night as I was headed out for dinner, I encountered him and invited him along. He accepted, and I am really glad he did . . . he explained wind-power energy to me . . . how it works, why it works, when it works, and when it does not work—really interesting stuff. He invited me to drive out the next morning to their work-site and watch as they erected some of the tall towers. I accepted the invite and took my Architect and pal, Ron Barbutti, along—as he had just arrived in town. As we observed the goings-on, it was obvious the crew was struggling with a problem. When the Engineer came around, I inquired about the problem. He explained that one of the towers was off-level a couple of inches at the base, but they had shims and such to fix the problem. As he went on to his work, I commented to Ron, “I do not see how a couple of inches could be much of a problem on anything that massive.”
Ron chuckled and said, my friend, “Two inches at the base isn’t much, but that two inches probably converts to something like 10 feet at the top of the tower!”
His comment has stuck with all through the years, and I regularly encounter situations where that truth is demonstrated. Here are a few examples:
. . . The folks at Charlie’s Place: Someone once said to them, “Take a sip of this . . . ” or “take a puff of this . . .” and that sip or puff . . . over time . . . became a thing of exponential growth in their lives . . . even to the point of controlling them!
A man and a woman say two simple words . . . one a pronoun and the other a one-syllable verb: “I Do” . . . and that thing also grows to become a thing of exponential growth.
A practice of sun-tanning as a teen . . . turns into a struggle with skin cancer at 50.
I am going to write this morning about an incident that was small at the time . . . but seemingly grew over time, completely unknown to me for many years, and I was overwhelmed when I learned what had become of it. I need to remind those who read my musings that I write this blog at the request of my children. I write it to serve as a testimony for them, their children, and my other family and friends about what I believe . . . why I believe it . . . and to share some of my experiences in my life’s journey. The thing I am going to write about might seem like bragging, but please know that is not my intent at all. I simply wish to illustrate how a simple, random gesture can grow over a period of 20 years . . . for either good or bad.
I recently wrote about my experience and friendship with the Kickapoo Indian tribe in Eagle Pass. This even happened almost 20 years later in another City . . . in another State, but it is related to the Kickapoos and my work with them.
For many years, I conducted training seminars on housing management, and criss-crossed the nation a number of times. With my seminars, I traveled from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Anchorage, Alaska, and from way up on the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast, and many points in between. I always enjoyed the travel, the people, the opportunity to teach others, and trying to challenge and inspire those in my business. A large portion of the training I did was in association with the National Center for Housing Management, of Washington, D. C. (NCHM); I have mentioned it before).
All that changed after 9/11 . . . and I really don’t like traveling by commercial air any more. It has simply lost all charm for me, with the being filmed, manhandled by my own government, and removing my shoes . . .
A couple of years ago, the good folks at NCHM called and excitedly told me that they had successfully negotiated a heavy-duty training contract with The Department of Housing and Urban Development. They asked me to take a lead role in the training. I thanked them for the invite, but told them I had to decline as I simply did not want to travel like that again. After an hour or so, my phone rang and this time it was my dear and long-time friend, Glenn Stevens, NCHM president calling. (I feel like I helped raise Glenn – his dad was my friend, Roger Stevens, who also served as NCHM President). I answered and he said, “Melton, there is no way you can escape being a part of this, Dude, we are going right into the HUD offices and we are going to train 16,000 HUD employees! This is the biggest thing in NCHM’s history and I really want you play a serious lead role; heck, I need you to do that for NCHM.” After some discussion, I agreed that I would participate, but only to the extent that I could drive. That meant I would do training in the San Antonio HUD Field office, the Fort Worth Regional office, the Dallas Field office, the Oklahoma City Regional office, and NCHM would send some folks from across the country to sit in on my seminars as student/trainers. I would spend time with the group at meals and of an evening teaching and explaining what was being taught in the seminars and why. I would then evaluate the student trainers for NCHM, and hopefully those folks would then become trainers and go to the places where I was unable and unwilling to travel. NOTE: I was actually roped into flying to one City . . . Atlanta to do a couple of weeks in the Atlanta Regional office (I flew from Houston on a direct-flight to Atlanta). I am glad that I did that . . . as I met some wonderful folks there and was able to reconnect with some old friends.
The event I want to relate this morning occurred in the Oklahoma City Regional office, on the second day of the first of three seminars held there. The HUD office was in the replacement building (still connected to a portion of the building destroyed by Timothy McVae in the Oklahoma City bombing.
As I arrived in the training room on that morning, one of the ladies brought her husband in with her and introduced me to him. In our chatting over morning coffee, I asked him where he worked. He said that he worked inside the building . . . with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I asked him if he knew my old friend, Hugh Green. He smiled and said that Hugh had hired him several years before. He told me that Hugh had retired a few years back, had recently lost his wife, and was in poor health. He asked how it was that I knew Hugh, and I told him that I had worked with the Kickapoo’s in the early years. He looked at me in a peculiar way and said, “You are the guy” and excused himself. I got the seminar started and got to work. As we took our mid-morning break, the Housing Chief stood and made an announcement that we all needed to go to the 6th floor, so I followed the crowd to the elevators. The lady who had introduced me to her husband walked along side me. After we got off the elevator, she directed me to an open meeting room. As I entered the room the large group of people inside the room began to clap, so I started to clap along with them. Then a tall, handsome fellow who was very obviously a Native American (even if he had not been wearing the beaded head band) stepped into the center of the room and raised his hands in the air, and the room grew quite. Then he embarrassed me . . . by calling me to stand by him, and he recounted to the group a pretty complete story of my work with the Kickapoo’s. I was amazed that he knew so many of the details. As he concluded his remarks, he turned to me and said, “Mr. Melton, what you did those years ago has become something akin to a legend in the Bureau of Indian Affairs . . . an able consultant who helped a native people as a volunteer . . . and declined to request payment for services rendered . . . something lovingly done out of the goodness of a good heart for people so different than himself. Sir, we just don’t see that being done for our people . . . before or since! Thank you.” As I stood there, about a hundred people walked by and shook my hand and thanked me for what I had done. I was just overwhelmed and it seemed they had quickly planned a party in my honor. They had even sent someone out to pick up bakery goods and had made coffee. It was a really sweet time.
Little things can grow into big things . . . even when we are completely unaware! I wish I had more of the good back there . . . and not quite so much of the goofy.