The following is reprinted from April 2014.

There’s an old wise saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This is one of my least favorite because this world we live in is a constantly changing world. Sometimes the change is a good thing, and sometimes it’s bad.

Because everything changes sooner or later, we have hope, if in an unpleasant or bad situation, that when the change comes it will make things better. However, another old wise saying comes to mind, “Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.”  So change is not guaranteed to be for the better every time.

In my two careers, the United States Army and the United States Department of Agriculture, I witnessed the good and bad results of change many times. For instance, when things were going good, almost everyone was upbeat and pleasant, enjoying a secure atmosphere. But let me say here and now that no matter how pleasant and good a location or surrounding is, or how great the pay and benefits, there is usually someone who can never be satisfied, always complaining, never thankful. Aside from one or two individuals such as this, when benefits and working conditions are good, the personnel are happy and congenial. Production runs high, and morale is good. Supervisors, managers and corporate officials are happy. Many raises, awards, bonuses and letters of commendation are passed out.

But then change occurs. Funding is slashed, profits drop, the economy grows weak and morale goes down. Supervisors, managers and corporate officials become edgy and unpleasant. I have seen employees get letters of reprimand and warning for doing the identical things that got them awards and commendations when things were good.  

I know of one organization that issued at least one letter of reprimand to every one of its non-supervisory employees for things that were extremely minor and insignificant so that when things changed for the worse and people were to be laid off, there would be documentary evidence against the employees. I have known that some employees would “stab some of their peers in the back” by starting rumors telling lies, hoping to not lose their jobs. Former close friends became enemies.    

And when conditions are stressful at work, many times that carries over to home life. There is a not so old saying, “When you come to work, leave your personal problems at home.” Thusly, when you go home, you should leave your job troubles at work. For most people, those two are hard to do.  Many a marriage has ended because a spouse felt the need to confide his or her frustration on the job. And many a job has been lost because marital, financial or parental stress at home affected one’s ability to concentrate at work.

Speaking of bad times at home, there is no telling how many loving, caring, sharing, benevolent, kindly and supposedly God-fearing family members with well-to-do elderly relatives become selfish, cruel, cold, unkind, vindictive and vengeful among themselves at the passing of a loved one who was well off, especially if the loved one didn’t have a will. Everyone has the responsibility to prevent family hard feelings by putting in writing his or her instructions on the disposition of his or her property.

I remember a period of good times turning to bad times then good times and ending bad. A good friend of mine, Jimmy, was living with his widowed mother after the break up of his marriage. They were good for each other. Jimmy provided security and companionship for his mother, and she provided love and food for him. Times were good for right many years. Then his mother died from cancer, leaving Jimmy lonely and with a feeling of uselessness, and he was depressed.

But soon times changed for the better. My oldest daughter, with a family of her own, had recently gotten an adorable puppy, a lab-mixed breed that resembled a teddy bear. They named him “Bear,” and the name fit him well. They taught Bear to ride a tricycle. They could put him on a tricycle, and he could actually peddle it for a good distance.

Before Bear was a year old, my daughter and her family had to move to Colorado and could not take Bear with them. Knowing that Jimmy was lonely and depressed, they offered Bear to Jimmy, and he took him.  

Almost instantly Bear bonded to Jimmy. I’m certain that the dog felt Jimmy’s sadness. Almost instantly Jimmy’s depression went away. The two became inseparable. Bear grew up to be extremely protective of Jimmy and went everywhere with him, riding in his truck.

Things were really good for a right long time, but there is an old wise saying, “All good things must end some day,” and that day came to Jimmy and Bear.

—Continued next week.—