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MICHAEL J. LACIVITA A firm handshake still holds meaning



Published: Sat, August 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



In my world-of-work days, I was responsible for recommending many young people for positions as quality control inspectors and production foremen. I worked at Republic Rubber Division at the time as a quality control manager, then production manager, in the '60s.

I always leaned toward the enthusiastic (ebullient) person. I believe word got out that I wanted to hear a prospect say that he or she would give at least 100 percent effort. Many would say they'd give 110 percent.

We upgraded employees within our own work force, generally. Many of the selectees did a great job, and some moved on to higher positions.

A telling sign

In addition to looking for someone who was capable and qualified for a particular position, I always looked for another characteristic in an individual -- a strong handshake.

That was ingrained in me many years before when I shook hands with one of Youngstown's top politicians at city hall. The only thing I could think of was, this feels like a dead fish grip, or as my mother would say in Italian, "Come una morto pesce."

This was one of my life's great lessons, and I have passed it on to my four grandchildren. When I shake hands with them -- Michael Krieger, Patrick Krieger, Jeffrey Vicarel and Laine Vicarel -- they are giving me Grandpa Lacivita's "Iron Mike" handshake.

The enthusiasm that goes hand in hand with a good-grip handshake is revitalizing. It costs nothing and can be invaluable over the course of a lifetime.

My grip depends on the size and age of the person, being careful not to give a child or elderly person a vise-type grip.

A handshake can range from lifeless to bone-crushing. I like a firm, think-about-it type.

Finally, I wish I would have shaken hands with that lifeless politician before he was elected. I would never have voted for him.

XMichael J. Lacivita is a retiree who writes and takes photographs in his spare time. A collection of his photos of nearby Amish country are on display at Butler Institute of American Art.




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