When you do stuff, things wear out, require maintenance and sometimes, just break. When they break, you fix ’em. If you can. Some things can’t ever be fixed.
There is a glitch in the fix-process and it is this: the person who broke it is not always the best person to try and fix it. By the time we were scheduled for a town day, I was ‘down’ two major tools. I need the winch. And I need the chainsaw. They were both broke. And I couldn’t fix ’em. I wasn’t even sure if they could be resurrected.
I took the winch to a guy who is hobbyist machinist. I’d never met the guy and he wasn’t there when I arrived. But we had spoken on the phone, my neighbours knew him and, well, a broken winch was just weighing me down, so I left it all in pieces in a box by his back door and went about my business.
The chainsaw was with a friend. He had already fixed it. So, it was mostly just visiting and ‘catching up’ on that one. When we were talking, he was also working on his motorhome. ‘Cause it, too, was broke. “Best part of this rolling palace is that my wife can make tea as we barrel on down the road. Man, it doesn’t get much better than that!”
After we left with the saw, Sally turned to me and said how nice it was that they enjoyed motorhoming together, making friends-on-the-road and seeing the countryside. “But, well…………..geez………..that motorhome is 40 feet long! Hasn’t anyone ever told his wife about a thermos?”
As our day was winding down and we were driving our packed little SUV with the equally loaded-to-the-gills utility trailer (we had just picked up the last load for the woodworking shop) I was saying to Sal, “Geez, ya know…….he’s right…it just doesn’t get much better than this! I mean, really! This is great. You and me. Doin’ stuff, travelin’ around and then soon to be home in paradise. This is just great!”
We were happy.
And we smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual hand squeeze. And then the phone rang. It was the hobbyist. He had managed to fix my winch in record time. I said I’d drop by.
I dropped Sal at the store to do some last-minute shopping and went over.
When I got there, I saw his little shop, met him, chit-chatted for a minute and it was clear that I was gonna like this guy. He was very interesting in a hobby-machinist kinda way. I guess the feeling was mutual so we passed a bit more time, gave brief personal histories, shared a few generalized points of view and basically created the beginnings of a friendship. And then he mentioned that his wife had just recently passed away.
And it seemed the world just stood still…….
His eyes went down. His voice faltered. His shoulders drooped and he seemed to sag at least a foot from his previous height. I was going to throw my arms out to catch him. Maybe I should have. But I didn’t. And he semi-recovered. Face still looking down. “Geez, I said, I am sorry to hear that. Really sorry.”
He couldn’t answer. The silence was painful. And so I added in my usual semi-stupid, fill-the-empty-air kind of way, “Geez, man. We’re supposed to go first. Not them”. To which he nodded and said weakly, “Yeah. It was not supposed to be that way.”
After a time, we managed to get back to general guy-talk. Machines. Pin-ups on the wall. Salmon fishing. Different metallurgy in different winch components. You know? But we had shared a moment. And it was a tough moment.
“Ya wanna stay for a beer?”
“Love to. Can’t. Wife is in Save-On. Gotta get her in a few minutes. God help me I should leave her standing waiting for me. You know?”
“Yeah, I know”. But he said it with a smile. That was good. And then I left. Told him I’d be back. Maybe stick around for that beer next time if there was one.
“There will be. See ya!”
When I say that it doesn’t get any better than this, I mean it. But what I really mean is that it is best doin’ it with Sal.