Freaks by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Dzz, Available at

Steve was an operator in a paint factory. At least that’s what everyone thought. But underneath his fire-retardant smock made of Nomex®. Underneath his Bullard® bump cap. Underneath his Uvex VersaPro™ safety glasses. Was a freak. Did he hide it well? Yep. Did he have a label that he wore on his bump cap with freak on it? Nope. But underneath all his protective gear. Hiding right below the surface, was a freak.

Today, Steve was making ultraviolet paint. Producing UV paint requires care. Skill. Diligence. Focus. Don’t let it come into contact with your skin. Period. … Period!

Well, Steve accidently splashed some UV material on his trousers. OK, maybe he spilled several liters of UV material all over his trousers. Maybe it ran down his legs, soaked his socks and wetted (a weird word) the inside of his work boots. Soaked pants. Soaked soaks. Soaked boots. The freak was still asleep, but now in a fitful sleep.

Having been trained ad nauseam about the dangers of UV exposure, Steve promptly bypasses the emergency safety shower and heads to the locker room. I kinda understand. I’m a modest guy like Steve. No one wants to drop down to their boxers in the middle of a paint plant. Way too embarrassing!!! Truly, I understand. I might have done the exact same thing. Probably would’ve (I put out a grass fire one time with my bare hands ’cause I was too embarrassed to go for help and tell someone I’d set my backyard and jungle behind our house on fire! Why my hands? Don’t know. Ask my freak!). … SO, Steve takes off his clothes and gets in the shower. Ahhh! Relief. No boxer embarrassment. Out of the UV soaked clothing. Nice warm water. No rash. No irritation.

A close call. But nothing more, thought Steve. Yet, if someone had been in the locker room with Steve at that precise moment, they would’ve said, “Hello freak. What are you doing awake? Who let you out?” The beast was awake and prowling.

Instead of drying off and putting on his extra set of dry, clean, clothes, Steve, er, I mean the freak, put his old clothes back on and went out into the factory. Yep. You heard me. The freak, put his UV-soaked socks, boxers, work trousers and boots back on. The freak went back to the production line and worked another 3 hours before going home. The next morning, Steve reported to the plant manager that he had a severe rash (with a burning sensation) on his entire lower body. Really. Go figure. … People are freaks. When asked why he put his old clothing back on, Steve said because he didn’t want to get his clean, dry clothes dirty. Wow! Really!

If you’ve looked in the mirror recently, I know what you saw – a freak! … Ever notice people? No, that’s not what I mean. I mean have really, really notice people? Your boss. Your co-workers. Your husband. Your brother. Your pastor. Your parents (yikes!). Your friends. O yeah, your neighbor. They’re all freaks.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE people. Love my wife. Love my parents. Love my sister. My kids. Love. Love. Love. … BUT. But that doesn’t keep them from being freaks. They are. Sorry. Hope you’re not traumatized.

A secret. Shhh. … I’m a freak. … OK. Now I feel better. Much better. It’s off my chest. Whew! … Once while walking to the parking lot after a long, tiring, and frustrating day, Rebecca, an employee of mine, asked, “Do you ever feel like you’re a kindergarten teacher?” Nice. She said it. I shifted a bit and finally said, “Yes, sometimes” (ok – often!). A kindergarten teacher who has a bunch of freaks in his class! … Did I mention they have a freak for their teacher – me!

People, created by God, have tons of Talent. Capability. Energy. Life. I truly love people and people are freaks. Each of us in our own way.
Leadership is about moving forward. Accomplishing things. With people. With freaks. If you’re going to be a leader, a GOOD leader, you’d better learn people. Motivating. Shaping. Communicating. Encouraging. Correcting. Vision casting. Helping. Serving. … Yes, Loving. … If you’re going to be a leader, you’d better become a freak-lover and hone your freakership skills. Leadership isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s done in a freak laboratory.

What kinds of freak stories do YOU have?

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