Friday, September 16, 2011

Gold Rolex Oyster

My father worked on off-shore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in his career.

He was born in 1934, growing up during difficult times in America, and in a poor part of Louisiana.

He was of what I consider to be the last generation that a man or woman would work for one company most of their lives.

Working off-shore, seven days on the drilling rig, and then seven days off, he ended up missing a lot of holidays and birthdays. He was there for a lot of them, but not for a lot of others too.

There were times, like working for any company, when he had to swallow his pride and keep his mouth shut to keep his job when the company would try to take advantage of him or others.

Then, when he had twenty-something years with this company, they called all the twenty-plus-year employees to a big banquet in New Orleans.

The company presented to him and all the other long-timers, a gold Rolex watch.

I don't know if it still is, but for decades, the official United States time was determined by an atomic clock at the US Naval Observatory.

So after he was given this watch, and I'd talk to him on the phone (from Dallas or Atlanta or wherever we were living during those years) I'd ask if the Naval Observatory has called yet that day to get the official time from him and his Rolex.

It wasn't something he left in a box, he wore the watch daily up until he died in 1994.

I took a few photos this week with my new/used macro lens.

You can see a few nicks and marks here and there.

Those nicks and marks are from him wearing one of the only tangible representations of all the years of hard work he put in, as well as not being with his family on some important days.

Some people would think he was being pretentious wearing a Gold Rolex, and sometimes complete strangers would say something like, "I wish I could afford to buy and wear a gold Rolex!"

He would always tell them, "I didn't have the money to buy one either. This was given to me by the company I worked so hard for, for so many years. I wear it because I EARNED IT."

That never failed to shut them up.

I don't wear it as much as I'd like to, mainly because my wrist is way bigger than his was, and even at the last notch, the watch is too tight to wear for more than just a few minutes.

One day I'll go ahead and plunk down the money to have an extra gold link or two put on the watch so I can wear it more.

But I look at this watch a lot, and suffer wearing it on important days for me and my family.

It helps me remember that he's with me in spirit on those important days to me and my family.