Alton Gladding

I just had a conversation with Alton. The quiet old guy in the corner of the office. He’s close to retirement (65, I think). I used to consider him the “access guy” because he was the only one who would willingly work on the Microsoft access projects.

My how my opinion has changed.

I am always impressed by people who have a malleable intelligence. People who are able to think on their feet, keep up in a volatile environment and stay mentally sharp. Believe itt or not, Alton embodies this ability for me.

I made an effort to listen to him and hear what he has to say. Mainly because I am a nice guy and partly because I truly believe that by listening to our elders we learn a great deal.

As I listened, his eyes light up and I began to see him not as the old man he is now but as the young man he was. He is intelligent. So very intelligent. Smarter then I am. He has had experiences of technologies and of working environments I can not even begin to imagine. He worked in Papua New Guinea for decades, only visiting his wife and family once every three months.

He was the chief engineer on the structural engineering of the building I am now working in. How cool is that? How can someone so versatile be so humble as to accept the moniker of “access guy” from a snotty nosed 25 year old up-start such as myself? He has worked for Beca for 39 years and 8 months. He is the longest serving Beca employee and he’s done everything. I flatter myself to think I have had good experience of software development. All my years of experience are a joke compared to what he has done.

He was into computers before there were computers and, to this day, he keeps up with technology. He can converse lucidly on any topic from binary punch-cards to C# .Net. I can only hope that when I am his age I am able to demonstrate such a malleable intelligence.

Alton, I am impressed, you truly are one of the most impressive people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. My hat goes off to you. May your retirement be the envy of your peers and may you find limitless happiness, you deserve it.

I wrote this after imbibing 4-5 wines at a work function. I get soppy when I’m drunk. So good advice to those of you who know me: when I’m drunk, try not to let me kiss you. 😉