March 16, 2010
We had begun extending a fence a small bit of way last Saturday. Monday evening we finished hanging the gate. Late evening but not late enough for sunset—not with the early Sunday morning time change to Daylight Savings Time. There was enough daylight left to begin another project, but instead we sat on an old cable reel and watched the baby kids run, jump, and buck. Easy enough to do, the fence was solid, posts dug in deep, wire stretched tightly, well built.
A job well done, it is too bad we don’t hear that enough any longer. Growing up, working for either my father or neighbor, whether building a fence or pouring concrete, when the job was done, you heard the words “job well done.” Sometimes one might hear how in hindsight, this of that might be done differently next time, but what was done is well. The words “job well done,” was at times quieter and more a look, and sometimes, thinking of a neighbor, it was verbose, embodied, arms flailing with a broad smile. For those rural and city folk I knew of my parents generation, much was to be said in doing a job well.
I think of neighbors who had little choice in the job they did for a living. It was the first job they attained; often coming out of one war or another, and it paid the bills. While they may have been better suited for another line of work had they choice, they knew the value of doing a job well and spent their life doing good work. They didn’t do good work for the boss, or for the money, but for the sake of doing a job well.
There is much we can learn from elders—those who have walked this life before us. They were and are a people of steel, old growth, coal, dams, glass, and the way they think, the way they play, and the way the work tell a good story our children should hear. It isn’t a story our children should live; their life is different. Yet it is a story of good work, which allows future generations to finish a job, stand to the side, wait for the sun to set, and know a job well done.