Return to Austria – Chapter 1

“Put that down.”
“Not another move, or I’ll shoot.”
“You’re only a boy. You don’t really belong to them.”
“Stay where you are.”
“Come away with us. Before it’s too late.”
“Not another step. I’ll kill you.”
“You give that to me, Rolf. -Did you hear me?”
“I’ll kill you.”

I moved closer to grab the gun. Bang! The Luger fired right as I was grabbing the barrel. The hot molten lead pierced my chest. It was as if someone had drained all of the energy out of me as I fell to my knees. “Georg! Maria screamed.” She came running from behind the fenced in crypt area.
“I didn’t mean to…..the gun just went off!” Rolf insisted.
Everything was getting darker and darker as I felt the blood running down my chest onto the cemetery floor. How could it end this way. We were so close to escaping the horrors that were descending upon Austria.

“Georg, I’m going into town. Do you need anything?” Maria said as she woke me from my afternoon slumber on the front porch of our Vermont home.  “No, I don’t believe so, thanks” I replied. As Maria left, I slowly came back to the present. This wasn’t the first time that I had this dream. I always woke up right after the feeling of life was leaving my body. I was getting tired of this dream and now it seemed as though I was having this dream more often. It had been so many years since we left Austria, our home, our country and our way of life that we had known for so many years. We left Austria due to the anschluss of the two countries and the Nazi occupation of Austria. We had never returned. Don’t ask me why. I had never even applied to become a citizen of our new home, the United States; my heart was still in Austria. Each year that passed, the more I longed to return to Austria, if nothing else to see what had become of my beloved homeland since the war was long over. What happened to our home? How about the convent that my wife left? Did either of them survive that awful war? So many questions and very few answers.  It’s the answers that eluded me. I had plenty of questions. Time wasn’t on my side as I found it harder and harder to get around due to the arthritis that had taken it’s toll on my body. I felt as though time was ticking away and my desire to return was becoming more of a recurring thought, just like this bad dream.

My phone rang, waking me from my daydreaming of Austria. “Hi father.” Brigitta said on the other end of the phone. “We  were wondering if you and mother would be interested in coming over to our place Saturday night.” “I imagine we could. Is there a particular reason that you wanted us to come over?” I asked. “No, not really, John and I have both been discussing something and we wanted to run it by you and mother.” “You aren’t thinking of moving to that retirement community in Florida that we visited with you last year are you?” I said thinking that was the reason for the invitation. “No, not at all. we just want your opinion on something that we were going to do and wanted to see if you and mother would be interested as well.” “Oh well, ok, I will ask your mother when she returns. Love you.” I replied with relief. They had been talking about moving to Florida since both of them had retired earlier that year. They wanted to leave the cold winters of Vermont behind now that their kids were on their own. I couldn’t believe that my children had grandchildren. Where had time gone? I felt very blessed, though we had lost our beloved Liesl 3 years prior. That was a very hard time for both Maria and me. I’m not sure that I would have recovered if it had not been the love and support of our other children. Maria and I were very fortunate to have such a close family. For many years we all toured the United States as the Trapp Family Singers until the children wanted to pursue their own futures and not live in the shadows of another life that we once enjoyed. Our family lodge in Stowe was still going, although we had left the daily running of this to Kurt who was much younger than Maria and me. He was more than glad to answer the myriad of questions about the family.

Suddenly, I heard the top of the mailbox slam as the postman delivered his daily stack of junk mail with a few interspersed pieces of fan mail from those that had stayed at our lodge. I got up from the chair on the porch and walked around to where the mailbox was. With the advent of email, I wondered why people still bothered with mailing letters. It was probably due to the same reason that I went to the mailbox each day; a thing of habit. As I leafed through the mail, I tossed the junk mail in the waste basket inside the doorway that was placed conveniently there for such things. In the middle of the stack of mail, there was an actual piece of mail that looked like a letter. The handwriting on it had a sort of strange writing on it. Some of the letters looked like the writing of friends that we still corresponded with in Austria. My heart lept as I enjoyed anything from our homeland. I quickly turned the envelope over and tore it open. I unfolded the letter and the first sentence hit me like a hot poker. I couldn’t read the next sentence or the next word. I fell over into the chair next to the doorway. It was as if my dream had suddenly just forced it’s way out of the recesses of my mind and grabbed me by the throat. How could this be? How could I have this dream only a little while ago and now my assailant was here again, but instead of a Luger, he had wielded a pen. My heart was racing instead of bleeding, but the mental pain was just as real as my dream. I opened the letter again, now that I was sitting down and began to read where my life had almost ended over 50 years ago.

“I never meant to pull the trigger. You have to believe me. I’m sorry Captain Von Trapp. If you will only let me explain why I am writing and why I never contacted you since that night you left Austria………”

NEXT-NEVER AGAIN

 

Why do you blog in the first place?

For us bloggers out there, why do you blog in the first place?

Is it to get subscribers or followers or likes? If this is the reason you blog, then you are simply one of the millions that post to social media just to get feedback that someone likes what you posted. Really? Think about it for a minute. If we showed someone a funny picture or told them a story face to face, would we ask them, “Did you like it? Did you think it was funny? Will you tell other people about it? Please like it. Give me a thumbs up.” I don’t think so.

I am a newbie blogger and I’m already exhausted.

I enjoy writing my content, I really do, but I don’t write it to impress you. I write it because for me it is therapy. It’s sort of like a public journal of thoughts I wouldn’t mind talking to you about in person. They say that if you are a blogger, you should spend most of your time promoting your blog instead of writing it. I get that, but what if the purpose of your blog is to share good ideas and thoughts with others? If you spend all of your creative time in promoting your blog, then it would seem that your blog content would be rather thin as you just want to create content fast enough to publish it. It’s sort of like a writer rushing the end of his or her story just to meet a deadline. Have you ever read a book where the end just sort of happened? You are sitting there reading the last sentence saying to yourself, “That’s it? That’s the ending!!!!???”
Quill pen with the writing 'The End'

What we create, should be an extension of ourselves.

We shouldn’t try and copy someone else or you end up just being another version of other people. Why would you want to do that? I don’t know about you, but I know that I have good ideas and that what I write is worth reading and my music videos are worth listening to. Logging in to your site stats every 2 hours to see how many people have viewed it is simply neurotic. What I have done is to link these blog posts to my Facebook page, have a link in my personal email address and share those certain posts that I think others will appreciate with just them. You have to do a little self promotion or what you write won’t matter because nobody will see it, but spending the majority of your time self-promoting instead of being creative is not what I want to do. No, I will not be a Huffington Post, but I don’t want to be that blog anyway. That’s not the reason I started doing this and hopefully that is not the reason that you started doing this either.

The American Work Force is in deep…..

This post is for people who are 54 to 72 years of age, better known as the baby boomer generation. So, if you aren’t in this age group, then just click back to Google land. That being said, I will begin my lament. The American work force is in deep doo-doo. I know, because I employ those people that are less than 54 years of age, most of them in their 20’s and lower 30’s. The sense of entitlement is off the charts. The lack of gratitude is unbelievable. Those of you that are not baby boomers are not going to be able to relate to this. We grew up in a different America. (I know that some of you are going to say, “Good, I’m glad I wasn’t born in your Victorian age) Our parents were the product of having to walk through the great depression. There was no Social Security, no welfare, no unemployment compensation. You depended on family to help get you through tough times; you didn’t look to the government for a handout.
Most of us did not live in McMansions. We lived in small bungalows or one story ranches. The house payment was something that every working family was able to pay without both parents having to work. We owned one car. We used public transportation. We had one TV in the house and we had 3 stations. That was good enough for us. You were able to be an electrician, a carpenter, a salesperson or a baker and afford a decent place to live. Health insurance was reasonable and there was the possibility of retiring from one company that you worked at all of your adult life.

I have talked to many CEO’s and they are having a hard time filling positions. People just don’t want to work. They get these kind of responses:

  • It’s too hard, I thought this job was going to be easy.
  • I want to master this job in one month like my old job.
  • Google employees get to work when they want and work from home.
  • I want unlimited time off.
  • This job is boring.
  • I want to be a YouTube sensation.

I have answers for these statements above:

  • Any job that is worth anything takes practice and repetition to be good. If you want easy, then go bag groceries, but beware, you can’t put canned goods on top of eggs.
  • If you mastered a job in one month, then it wasn’t much of a job. Any job that you can master in one month is sort of like an assembly worker putting a rivet into a fender on a car. Pick up rivet, insert in rivet gun, pop rivet in fender, repeat.
  • You have no skills that Google would want. If you want to work for Google, then you need to be a top notch coder and then if you are the best of the best at Google, MAYBE they might let you work from home every now and then.
  • If you have unlimited time off, why am I paying you to work? I tell you what, I will give you unlimited time off, it’s called “You’re fired!!”
  • Well now, isn’t that special. This job is boring. How about your last job selling phones at Verizon. Was that exciting applying customer’s payments on phone accounts that got cut off because they value having a cell phone more than buying groceries? Even being an astronaut gets boring after the 300th time. Deal with it or go find another job.
  • Everybody wants to be a YouTube sensation. Create a YouTube channel after you get off work and find your voice that others want to listen to. You need to learn to use video and audio software. You have to work everyday at producing quality content. Most good YouTubers work 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. Don’t believe me, listen to one of the top YouTubers Casey Neistat.

I’m not saying that everyone that I have hired is a lazy, entitled prick or prickett. I’m saying that most of them are, or are leaning that way. I have hired 3 Asian interns over the past 2 summers and they have blown me away. They are not just on time. They arrive early, they don’t take lunch until they are at a good stopping point, they don’t take smoke breaks or potty breaks every 6.5 minutes. They type usually 90+ wpm with like 1 error and they pick up tasks so fast that I keep asking them, “Don’t you have any questions?” When I check their work, it is correct. They take criticism constructively. They don’t tell the rest of the staff, “He is so mean, he told me that I needed to improve.” Do you know why this is? It’s because their family background is more like my parents and grandparents. To do something well that you are proud of, you had to work at it. It wasn’t something that you perfected in one month. If you have noticed, many of the YouTube sensational instrument players (violin, cello, piano etc) are of Asian descent. To become good at something, you have to practice. This means you have to lay down your phone, tablet or keyboard and you have to apply yourself. Your boss is your boss, not your friend. He or she is someone that is in authority and typically they got there because they put in the time over the years, not due to nepotism.  When I used to talk face to face with my construction customers, they complained “All the Mexicans are taking our jobs.” Do you know why? They are willing to work longer and for less money than you are. They don’t insist on driving an $85K Ford F-350 or living on 5 acres with a $750,000 home. They do what our fathers and grandfathers did.

I’m all about hiring the best person for the job, that means if he or she is 3rd generation American or 1st generation Asian, it doesn’t matter. I need a job done and I’m looking for the best person to do that job. I just want to get a fair amount of work for the more than fair wage that I pay. It’s time to stop playing the entitlement card and learn from, God forbid, Baby Boomers about working hard, playing hard and feeling good about what you did before you punch out for the day.

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