8 December 2016

The Next Time You Really Mess Things Up- Remember This Story

Posted by Dan Satterfield

He had been called onto the carpet as they say, and it was not just a middle manager. It was the top boss. He’d been expecting it for over 24 hours now, and as he walked downstairs he could not help but think that he should just call it a career, and chuck it all. He was at retirement age after all, so why not. 

It was a long career and like many, there were ups and downs, although the last 15 years had been mainly down. Way down. Oh, he’d made a name for himself, but he knew that all his enemies (and most of his friends) thought he was far past his prime, and just not up to it anymore. A few disagreed though, but in the circumstances, it was not much comfort.

The time had come. The car was waiting as he stepped out of his office and into the bright May sunshine. What an amazingly beautiful spring day, but the blue skies and warm sunshine were not nearly enough to brighten his dark mood. Neither were the bright green leaves on the trees, nor the flowers in perfect spring bloom.

It was a short drive, with just a police officer beside him and a driver.  No one spoke. He tried to be positive, but that’s not easy to do when you are headed for disaster, and he most certainly was. When someone starts writing a book about you with the words “a failed career” in the title, you can’t help but do some soul-searching. Yes, he was brash, and loud, and not easy to get along with at times.

Ok, much of the time.

He’d lost friends over his political views. 

Often.  Many never forgave him….

The car pulled up and stopped, and the door was opened. As he stepped out, a well dressed man with no smile or emotion said “This way sir.”

Up the long staircase, and across the long hall to the big doors. A place like this was designed to make you feel small.

It succeeded perfectly.

His guide said “Wait here”. Seconds passed.

”You may go in now”. 

He walked through the door, and there he was, dressed in a simple but classy suit, standing and waiting, with a sad smile on his face. 

They both knew why he was here. 

“You know of course why I’ve called you here?”

Yes sir.

“Well I guess we should do it properly alright?

Yes, of course.

“Very well then”, and it was all over in  matter of seconds.

He was escorted back to the car, and got in for the short drive back to his office. Except it was now no longer his.

 As the car came to a stop, he turned to the officer beside him and said “I guess you know what all that was about?” The officer responded. “Yes, and my congratulations sir. If only it had come at happier times”.  Tears welled in his eyes, “Yes, I fear it may very well be too late now, but we must try.”

The car door opened, and the new Prime Minister, Winston Spencer Churchill climbed out of the car. He walked up the steps of the Admiralty and into history, on that sunny spring Friday in London. It was the 5th of May in 1940, and despite the sunshine the lights were going out all over Europe. Britain’s army was retreating, and soon they would stand alone. Many thought that the long 1000 year history of Britain was coming to an end. Far worse days were ahead, for the RAF, and for the people of London, and he knew it. In 8 months 22,000 innocent citizens of this city would be dead from the bombs. 

Twenty-five years later, on a gray and bitterly cold January day, he would become only the second commoner in a thousand years to receive a full state funeral. The nation stopped, and the chimes of Big Ben were silenced in mourning, as his casket was carried to St. Paul’s.

It was the least his countrymen could do for the man who saved not only his nation, but all of Western Civilization. If you think I exaggerate, then you do not know the whole story.

So, the next time you screw up at work, and think about giving up, or if you think you’re too old to start again, remember that story and the words he lived by: 

Never, never, never, NEVER, give up.

Note: This is for those scientists who work in atmospheric/climate research at NASA/NOAA, and many other scientists who work at the EPA and other federal agencies. Science always wins in the end because it is based on fact and experiment, not belief. Never give up.