I rebuilt my girlfriend's closet
today. The shelf and clothes rod pulled away from the wall.
Rather than reinforcing the shelf again, I decided to rip it all out
and rebuild. I used a metal track system with adjustable
brackets for shelves and rods.
As I was cutting some of the tracks to size with a hacksaw I found myself wishing I had a bandsaw, and a shop to put it in.
The best shop I've ever seen was my grandfather's. He owned school buses and the garage was big enough for two buses side by side and another under the carport. The back and side walls were shadow boards: every tool had a spot and was well-marked. I remember helping him put away all the wrenches. We'd wipe each one with an oil cloth, then he'd let me find the right spot for it.
He built the garage himself and it was very sturdy. The loft had a reinforced floor and a chain lift. He'd lift material up to the machine shop - lathe, mill, saw, etc. He taught me how to use a micrometer when I was only eight and I remember a long lesson on thread pitch and depth for cutting your own bolts. Also, I never forget that there are drills and drill motors, but drill bits there are not.
My grandfather died when I was eleven years old, and the tools were like chum in a shark-filled lagoon.
By the time I next saw the garage, it
was a mess. Drawers upside down on the tables. Nuts and bolts
scattered everywhere, tools in “pick-up sticks” piles, and one in
a hundred still hanging over it's shadow on the wall. The power
tools must have been the first to go.
It was all my uncles and my father, but in secret. Somehow they'd concocted this dance where none of them were in the garage at the same time, and none of them saw what each other took. Plausible deniability even before the Reagan administration. Because of this dance, the only things left of value were those things that required more than one person to move - - the machine shop in the loft.
All those tools scattered among six
boys, not a single one of them ever put anything away in their
own garages or made any attempt to respect those tools in a neat and
clean shop. All those tools, rusting in piles, discarded after use.
All those tools wasted on boys who grew up thinking they were
entitled to their dad's work, efforts, and money.
No buses ever again pulled into the garage and the gas reservoir out front, under the pump, was unearthed and sold. The red paint peeled and weeds encroached into the asphalt.
My grandfather never adhered to any religion, even though Grandma and the rest of the family was deeply devout. For him, he found comfort in Zen even though he didn't know it. Zen in the ceremony of the tools and the practice of repairing and creating, of solving practical problems in his metaphysical space. So, in his non-religious way, he showed me respect and ceremony. In the religion of my parents and my uncles, I was shown how to rob the dead and lie about it.
I finished the closet and wiped down all my tools and put them away, like my grandfather would have. I prefer his way and I've lived to make him proud and I know he would be if he were still alive.
- rick, respecting tools