Udo was of German descent. He had a coarseness about him, but an incredible refinement as well. He adapted to the situation he was in at the moment. When he retired after a long career in the excavation business, he sold me his office and yard, along with some heavy equipment and trucks.
We lived across the street from he and his wife, so our visits were frequent. In retirement he moved from his lifetime hobby of flying planes, to flying helicopters. He would often fly me around to look at my projects. It helped him stay in touch with the business he loved and to help mentor to me.
My friend Udo and I flew down to a project I was building on the Guadalupe River a new State Park. The year was 1979. I would have been 27 years old.
We were being treated unfairly by an inspector. It was time for a head butting. Several of the Park Reps were there along with the inspector we were having the problems with.
I had studied the situation completely. As soon as the helicopter landed I was out and in the middle of the them making my case. Within five minutes the whole bunch had come around to my way of thinking and the inspector was dressed down by his superiors.
Udo had gotten out of the chopper and had moved in close enough to hear the conversation, but kept his distance.
When we were back on board of the Bell Jet Ranger, Udo looked at me and told me what a great job I’d done making my point. I was feeling the pride swell up inside me. Then he said something that has stuck with me since.
He said “you really had all the facts down. You made your case. But I was truly embarrassed by your foul language. You took a great thing and cheapened it so much with vulgarity. Son, when you and I talk that’s the time to throw in a cuss word or 2 to make your point. But in a business setting you should never let it happen”.
With that he fired off that jet engine and away we went.
Since the day I’ve studied the behavior of different people in a business setting and those that stay away for foul language always seem so much more intelligent.
Thanks to Udo’s frankness and straight talk, I was able to hone a communication skill that I may never have other wise known.
Udo, my friend, I miss our talks.
I will tell you more about Udo a little later.