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To R.O. — It’s not in the genetic wiring

September 4, 2011
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor , The Herald-Star

The first thought in my head that morning was the prospect of sleeping in, not going to work.

It was one of those cool nights where windows left open produced a natural air conditioning feeling ideal for snuggling under a blanket and letting dreams continue uninterrupted.

I lingered under the linens, toying with the idea to R.O. - report off - and spend the day "sawing" a forest of logs.

But reality prevailed, and I pushed myself away from the pillows, knowing full well that no way was that going to happen.

It's just not in my genetic wiring.

Up I got and out I went into the work force.

And on this Labor Day holiday weekend, I can pretty much pinpoint the two people who deserve credit - or blame - for this work ethic that stops me from taking lightly my responsibility to show up and do the job expected of me.

My parents. Ruth Ann and Jay W. "Pidge" Hout.

Growing up, I didn't give much thought - or thank-you's for that matter - to the fact that my dad juggled two jobs: One was as an engineman on the railroad, the other as a car salesman.

In the earlier years, he was on the "extra board" on the railroad, meaning whether he worked or not depended on whether or not he was called. Not beeped, not text-messaged, not e-mailed but summoned by a good old-fashioned ring-ring-ring of the phone, which at the time was one of those now classic black, rotary dial, weighs-a-ton kind of retro telephones.

This would mean that Hout children did not grow up yaking away on the telephone, a utility in the household there specifically for convenience and emergencies, not entertainment and idle chit-chat.

In retrospect, my dad really was a Superman sort minus the phone booth for a fast change.

On one hand he was the guy in "work clothes" driving a pickup truck who would pull in the driveway; then he transformed into the showered, shaved and suited-up salesman who pulled out of the driveway, usually heading off in a "demonstrator."

That was the name for a car that Dad drove. It belonged to the dealership but got potential-consumer exposure on his commute to and from that job.

When there were "lulls" in between those gainful employment arrangements, Dad would "enjoy" himself doing yard work, mowing grass or laboring in the garden of strawberries, corn, tomatoes and the likes.

Things to do were sandwiched between jobs to report to.

My mom had two jobs as well as most multitasking women do, although, again that never really occurred to me that being a parent of five kids was "work." Really??!!

Mom's days were full with children in the home and children in the classroom as a teacher who daily took hostage of the kitchen table to grade papers and type tests on a noisy typewriter.

"Leisure" time was invested in helping dad, canning what garden goods he grew or managing the household.

When they ultimately surrender to heavy sleep in an upright position while watching television, I used to chalk that up to oddness - weird parents - not exhaustion.

So I grew up realizing there was work to do, that people counted on you.

I early realized that going to school was "my job." Helping out was "my job." Getting a job was "my job."

I got the picture.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. I feel blessed to enjoy what I'm doing.

When I came in to work that morning when I'd flirted with the idea of being a no-show, I was on my way to putting my lunch in the refrigerator when I looked out one window, stopped short by what I saw.

There against the backdrop of St. Peter's Church, a brilliant sunrise was unfolding.

I stopped to stare and smile, happy that a new day dawned on another day to labor.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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