AEG to The Rescue: Geology, Karma and Charles Livingston

AEG to The Rescue: Geology, Karma and Charles Livingston

I first heard of Charles R. Livingston – a man who at the time had 35+ years experience in geology, geotechnical and environmental projects throughout the U.S. – through the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG) in 1987. I was a 30 year old Project Hydrogeologist and Environmental Department Manager for Law Engineering Inc. (LAW) in Greenville, South Carolina.

I was getting ready to go before the Principal Board within LAW to become a Principal Hydrogeologist, one of only three in the company of about 5000 employees. To be designated Principal you had to own company stock, have liability\loss prevention training including contract review, 7 plus years of experience in your field, professional registration and pass a grueling (hazing) interrogation by other experts in the field (internal and external) at the corporate office. Many did not make it through the Principal Board review and typically quit or did not try again if they did not pass.

In the summer of that year, my wife Denise received a call on a Sunday afternoon from a fellow AEG member (Charles R. Livingston) whose daughter was headed home from College and had car trouble. His daughter's car was at a gas station in a not-so-good part of town near Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was getting late in the day and he was very worried for his daughters safety. With repair shops closed because it was Sunday in the Bible Belt, and not knowing anyone in the area, and being four hours away himself, Charles decided to look for AEG members in the area and found my name in the AEG directory as I lived about 30 miles from Spartanburg.

When Charles called my house Denise answered the phone and told him that I was at the store, but would return shortly. He just wanted to know if we knew of any auto repair shops open on a Sunday evening. She told him no, but not to worry. I was a pretty good mechanic and she knew I wouldn't mind looking at his daughter's car and\or helpher get to a safe area until the repair shops opened on Monday morning. So when I returned, off I went to Spartanburg with my car loaded with tools. I found his daughter and was able to repair her car and get her on her way. She called her Dad and let him know she was on her way home. I was a road warrior in those days, so I left for a job site that Sunday night and didn't give it any more thought.

About a week later Denise told me that a beautiful flower arrangement arrived at our house with a card from Charles thanking us for our assistance. I thought that was a nice gesture on his part but little did I know what he was really going to do.

A few weeks later the annual AEG (national) meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia and it turned out Charles was an officer in the association and addressed the large crowd. I was not in attendance but several high ranking officers in LAW were there. Charles proceeded to talk about the "brotherhood of the AEG" and included the above story as an example of this brotherhood. He also said that I was a great example of the caliber of the professionals at LAW.

I was not aware of what Charles had done until several weeks later when I was at the corporate office for my Principal "hazing". I was a nervous wreck! My testing/review board consisted of internal experts in my field, an attorney, and a Georgia Tech Professor of Engineering Hydrology. Also on the board was the CEO of LAW who had happened to hear what Charles said at the AEG meeting. I was very surprised when the CEO introduced me to the board by standing behind my chair with his hands squeezing my shoulders as he told the story of how I had helped Charles Livingston's daughter. He went on to enthusiastically retell the positive things Charles had said about the professionals at LAW.

The board went on to grill me for hours over many different topics, but I was much more relaxed and clearheaded following that glowing introduction.

Needless to say, after all that I became a believer in karma and, yes, I passed my Principal Board Review.

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Charles R. Livingston was the first section chair of the Southeastern Section of the AEG in 1972. He has 35+ years experience in performing and managing engineering geology, geotechnical, and environmental projects throughout the United States, Canada and the Bahamas. His work includes geologic/geotechnical investigations for civil projects, material investigations for construction aggregate, investigations for coal and industrial minerals, geologic investigations for nuclear power plants, geologic investigations for hydroelectric facilities (i.e. dams, tunnels, power plants and pipelines), safety evaluation inspections for major dams throughout the western United States, offshore investigations, solid waste studies, contaminant delineation, remediation design, supervising remediation construction projects, and expert witness testimony in court cases involving geologic matters. Charles is retired and lives with his wife in Atlanta, Ga.

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