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Tommy Baldwin was someone who had elected to take the management track but was doomed by ability to remain forever in flunky limbo. He was a flow controller when I got to Jacksonville, a position best described as ceremonial at the time, and which meant he spent his shifts at the watch desk assigned a task that had been ill defined and worse implemented. In fact, he was something of a token in a dead end assignment.

I have no idea whether he had been a good controller at one time or not, although later experience suggests that he had found himself outside of his comfort zone controlling traffic and made the move to the management track which consisted first of taking staff jobs such as training specialist, military specialist, etc.—positions needed to punch one’s ticket for eventual management assignments. That was a strategy employed by many lesser talented personnel—we called them rush duckers.

Whatever was needed for the next level, though, Tommy didn’t have, so languish in Flow Control he did, and he was not held in high regard by the troops. He was slight of stature, as well, which didn't help. Of course, such disdain is fertile ground for nickname assignment and Tommy got one of the best. My friend, Bill South reminds me that Buddy Friedlin had once observed that Tommy was built so close to the ground that were he to fart, the ass gas would directly stir up the ground around his ankles. Thus was born Sandblower.

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Last updated: 22 March 2009