The Storyteller

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time (As far back as 1973 at the Michigan Safety Conference and 1978 for three consecutive mornings at the National Safety Congress) there was a story teller who told stories to safety people by the thousands. And some of the safety people said to him, “Please come and tell your stories to our people.”

The story teller did this part time until 1983 when he took an early retirement and went full time just writing articles and stories and then books and booklets and as he traveled from association to association and from corporation to corporation he kept on working on his stories.Over the years this storyteller wrote children’s books and parent books and some teacher books and he traveled all over the country bringing stories about leading positive lives to many schools and associations. He did this in the sales field telling his stories to major corporations and associations and during the bi-centennial he dedicated his stories to messages about America. Always he heard the call and returned to the safety field writing safety books and booklets and giving speeches throughout the United States and Canada. In time he learned secrets about behavior and as he shared them with corporate and association audiences he learned that when he could win a personal commitment to safety from members of an organization then the number of injuries decreased and when he could win such commitments from members of an entire work force, together with signed commitments from everyone in management too that all employees began looking out for their own safety and for that of their fellow workers. He learned the difference between intervention and positive inter-action. And when he won personal commitments and then provided a simple hand signal that said, “What you are doing could be unsafe,” he learned that the term Zero Injuries could be not just a wild dream but a reality.

And then when 9/11 came along he discovered that downsizing and outsourcing and a whole new profit mentality swept through America and it became more and more impossible to hold group safety meetings and win a total commitment for zero injuries because, they explained to him, “There just was not enough time for this any longer.” He worked with some major corporations creating video presentations and they were shared with many thousands of workers. Then he worked with the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and won thousands more signed personal commitments to safety.
With terrorist threats and a huge new force in government determined to protect us passengers, travel became more and more difficult. And the story teller had now been the safety field since 1948 and he was a tired old man.

In 2002 the National Safety Council awarded him their highest honor given to an individual, their Distinguished Service to Safety Award for his contributions to the Safety Field. The Commanding General of the United States Army Safety Center presented him with The General’s Coin for the introduction of his safety program to their people.

Today this old, storyteller still weaves tales in his seersucker jacket as Almost Andy. You might run into him at a Mayberry Day’s celebration, in a parade or onstage telling stories or maybe singing off key.And he might just kick into gear and find a corporate client that has the time and the passion for safety that still burns in his heart. The story tellers greatest regret? That he only reached a tiny segment of workers who might have learned that zero injuries is a real possibility.

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