In fact, I'll bet that you are like all the craftspeople I have known: Level-headed, fair, smart, capable people that know which end is up and can detect BS a mile away. They can think their way out of their own problems and still find time to lend a hand to others that need it. They are not ever greedy, and would rather give away some beauty, some detail rather than take the money.
They are not wealthy, but they have heavily invested their work with emotion. A terrible thing to do and try to be a businessman, but if I had to pick one (and I have), I know which I'd pick (and I did).
They can be a bit eccentric, all the better. They are guilty of having original thoughts, ideas born of the link between the eye, the brain and the hand. They do live their lives in a more purposeful manner, with integrity, honesty and style all foremost.
Very few people can appreciate what Harrington says since they are so far from that daily act of making the thing we do every day - the thing we often take for granted since it is like breath. I knew, and you probably did too, that when we started down this road, it would become a way of life rather than an occupation, something to leave behind after 8 hours or so. I'm so glad I found this route or who knows what I'd be doing. Probably selling insurance.
Both John Prine and Frank Zappa had lines about kids growing up to sell insurance as a sign of sure failure for a parent.
Thanks for the lift. There are times when we need it.
When I graduated from high school, many years ago, I went to college for one year and decided it wasn't for me. I needed a job, any job, and the first one to come along just happened to be in a veneer mill, with the roughest, toughest foreman around, he could make working there a nightmare.
I was there about a year, when the veneer lathe operator job came open, and no one in the entire company wanted it (even though it was the top paying union job in the company). Shortly after accepting the position, the foreman (Rupert) came to me and said "The company is making me retire in six months and you are the last person I will teach to cut veneer. I will teach you everything I know, if you are willing." He literally had tears in his eyes, I will never forget that look. He wanted me to be the recipient of his life's accumulation of veneer knowledge (and some really neat stories going back to the "Mosquito Bomber" days of WW2).
Yes, Rupert taught me all the technical expertise I would ever need to be a veneer expert, things you just can't learn in a book, but the most valuable thing he taught me was the true passion he held for the resource. The tears in his eyes that day were generated by the most pure passion I have ever witnessed in a man and it started a fire in my being.
I have literally built my career on the foundation Rupert laid for me in those six months. Since then I have used that knowledge to my great advantage and made many more discoveries about myself and my profession.
Looking back now I wonder if it was just "dumb luck" that Rupert and I worked together and developed that relationship ... or was it meant to happen? At this point, it doesn't really matter, it happened and I (and dare I say, many others) are the better for it.
I am closing in on my retirement in a few more years. I am dedicating my remaining time to spreading the knowledge and passion that I have accumulated over the years to others, especially those just starting out in the business.
Without Rupert's "jump start" ... literally that look on his face and tear in his eye ... I would not be where I am today. I can only hope that I lived up to your expectations Rupert. I know I have led a much better life with that "fire" you started in me so long ago. Rest in peace!
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