GRAPHICS PRO

October '20

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IN THE TRENCHES R I C K W I L L I A M S 1 0 G R A P H I C S P R O O C T O B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M B y the time you read this, the weather should be a bit cooler, and in some areas of the country well past the summer heat, though here in Texas our hot summertime is a very clear and all too re- cent memory. But cool weather is a blessing, and the change in clothing welcome as well. My favorite cool weather wear for doing sign work, inside or out, is blue jeans, a long sleeve L.L. Bean cotton shirt with large pockets, and a short waisted jacket with even more pockets. Except on Sunday, I seldom wear anything else. My shirts are button down and tucked in, but a standup comic whose name I can't recall humorously complained that he hated another type of cool weather fair: turtleneck shirts. "Wearing a turtle- neck feels like you're being strangled… very slowly… by a very weak man." That's a funny and somewhat accurate description, even though I kind of like them but never wear them to work. Here in my work world, what seems like being strangled by a weak but deter- mined man is getting trapped at my desk all day, doing layouts and proposals, an- swering emails and phone calls. Just these few things can easily consume an entire day, any day of the week. To escape, and I find myself needing to do so to this very day, I will get out in my bucket truck and handle a sign or let- ter install, or do some fabrication work at our other shop, or happily tackle just about any task or project that isn't done at a desk. If desk work was all I did every day, all day, I think I'd take a long walk off a short pier, or a short walk off a long pier… going sideways. Our sign shop is on the west side of town on U.S. Highway 80, the major east-west highway here, and our second shop is on a stretch of the old highway, about a half-mile over from the main shop. At that shop we do welding, en- graving, and screen printing. It is a quiet, productive place, and I enjoy working down there any chance I get. I can work about 60 or 70 hours a week at our combined shops (I left out one or two shops, but that's another story), before I really need a break. For those times, I have a great escape stored in a rented han- gar at a small airport about a dozen miles away: a single-seat plane that's cheap to fly, full of gas, and ready anytime I can get there. I'm aware that this type of escape from work and responsibilities is not typical, not without its risks (but so much fun), and it is also educational in a lot of ways. From a thousand feet, I see things most people can't, from the endless forests of northeast Texas, hundreds of farms and ranches, river valleys and massive lakes, and huge coal mines and oilfields, almost all at one glance. I see the towns and communities for miles around, places that I've done sign and graphics work in over all these years. Almost none of them have been missed when plying our trade, and sometimes I can even see the work itself on com- mercial buildings, schools, or churches. And I've become aware of something else, and that is what I am really seeing is a fairly high level of prosperity even in a mostly blue collar area of the country here in northeast Texas. New school com- plexes with their carpet-covered football fields, beautiful landscaped estates down private roads winding around man-made lakes, and well-built highways connecting the dots in all directions, all laid out in a panorama for appraisal by an escaped sign maker in a small plane. What does this say to me? For one thing, it says that I should be thankful to live in a country that works, even in difficult times, and for an economic sys- tem that has brought the opportunity for success to many thousands of people. And their vast and varied successes have changed the landscape, and not in a bad way, the landscape I see more than most. Yes, the cooler weather is here, and the elections are just around the corner. But, for all those running for office and then assuming leadership on many levels, once they win I hope, truly hope, before mak- ing great changes to the country we all love, they take time to appreciate what we already have to be thankful for, which, fellow Americans, is a heck of a lot. And I hope your business is finding its way, returning to normal, and that you have a great month… and beyond. I sure intend to. RICK WILLIAMS owns Rick's Sign Company, a com- mercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business and Sign & Digital Graphics since 1986. Contact Rick via email at ricksignco@aol.com. OVER THE COOCOO'S NEST... AND LOOKING DOWN

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