When You Love What You Do, It’s Not a Job
Joseph Clayton Castille, Jr. — Draftsman, LaFayette, LA
At age 80, Joseph Clayton Castille, Jr. got laid off from Lafayette Woodworks, where he worked as a draftsman. The company had changed hands and the economy was slow. Things picked up two years later and they hired him back, but first he had to fill out a job application, something he had never done. When he got to the part that asked about previous employment, he wrote, “Well, I worked here for 60 years.”
His coworkers call him “Mr. Castille,” and the show of respect is not just about his age. “I still learn from him every day,” says Carl Martin, the other draftsman at Lafayette. “If I don’t understand something, he’ll explain it to me ten times until I get it. I tell him, ‘Mr. Castille, I’m sorry, I’m not following you.’ And he says, ‘Let’s take a look at it another way.’ He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever learn.”
A native of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, in the heart of Acadiana, Mr. Castille grew up speaking French before he learned English, and his Cajun accent is still thick.
“I drew on the drafting board about maybe 45 years, but now we draw on a computer, and it’s an amazing thing. A lot of the older draftsmen didn’t want to get involved with it, but I wanted to learn it.”
Among other things, the computer helps him deal with architects. “We have to rough out these jobs, and draw what we think the architect has in mind, you see, and then submit ‘em for approval. Every architect is different. Some of ‘em like square stuff, some of ‘em like round stuff, so it’s always a challenge. The other day we did a starting step for a job, and the architect must have changed that thing, I would say, about nine times.”
When asked why he hasn’t retired, Mr. Castille says, “Well, I don’t know. They needed my help over here, and I just felt good about doing it.”