I hated school but loved learning

Greg Croce | TLT President's Report October 2018

Along the way I had fun, gained skills and ended up with a lot of cool tools.

Teach yourself how to do household projects. You’ll energize your brain and gain skills you can pass on to children and friends. 
© Can Stock Photo / dolgachov

An obvious follow-up to last month’s certification article would be one on education! You might find it hard to believe, but I almost didn’t graduate from high school. Something about units, missed days, dean’s office, etc. When I looked back, I was simply quite bored with high school classes—be here, be there, be quiet—it’s all a blur.

Then came college—what a trip! You mean they don’t care if you don’t come to class? They don’t care if you’re late? That got my attention. Not to mention the fact that by the time I was at the university (I did a few years at community college first, luckily!) I was already married, had our first child, was going to school full time and was working full time as an analytical chemist. I was quite busy.

Between nobody caring if I showed up, being constantly on the move and the fact that I seemed to retain knowledge, I became a pretty good student. Can’t remember that I ever missed one class in my time at the university.

I know, again, “Mr. President, can you get to the point?” Why, yes, my point is school isn’t for everybody. I never liked it, but what I loved and gravitated toward was always learning something new. To this day I continue to learn on a daily basis, attending conferences and training classes and asking questions because I can never get enough.

I took this desire to learn from the household. My mother says it started when I was 10 years old. Funny, she said I was the original trash picker. You see, on the way home from school (yes, I did actually walk about two miles to and from), I would bring home stuff people put on the curb for the trash truck. A lot of electrical items, radios, TVs, etc. I would bring them home and take them completely apart. I was simply amazed at how they were constructed—or maybe it was the start of me being destructive? Don’t know, but I had fun doing it.

The joke around the household now is, “Croces don’t pay for labor.” There isn’t a handyman-type job I cannot do (except, I believe, installing carpet), whether it is putting tile on a wall or taking one down to put a door in. Or I’m in the garage rebuilding an old transmission or welding a corroded floor panel. The key is you end up asking a lot of questions of everybody you know. Google, texts, phone calls, all lead to someone who knows what I am trying to do and can help. It keeps my mind working and my soul intact. My reward is that generally I end up with a few new tools and the knowledge to do the job again with my kids or friends.

Bottom line STLE colleagues—next time you have a project, do it yourself. Teach yourself how to do it (might have to keep the spouse at bay, as the project may take a little longer, but that is another story). You will energize your brain, learn something new and may end up with a few cool tools.
Greg Croce is Delo Brand technical manager for Chevron Products Co. in Richmond, Calif. You can reach him at gcroce@chevron.com.