Wish I had Carl Sandburg’s gift of words. His poem “Chicago” is so powerful. If I could write poetry today I would title my poem, “Song to the construction trade”. In the Middle Ages the guilds developed a system of unions which laid out the hierarchy of the trades of working men -- apprentice, journeyman and master. It was a long and laborious climb to reach the level of Master, but when you got there you knew you were best of the best.
I don’t think the system is all that different today. The ‘boss man’ is the master. It is his eye that roves over the work, pinpointing the good and the bad. Regardless of how it is set up, I am always truly amazed at what good work these men and women do. I am thinking of plumbers and roofers, painters and plasterers, tilers, rug layers, brick layers, and builders and glazers. I’ve had dealings with more than a few of these throughout the years. It seems to come with owning a home. There is always something which needs to be done. Unfortunately I am neither handy nor of an age where I can do much of these jobs any more. These folks are my “go-to” guys and I worship the ground they walk on. They take my problems and my creative ideas, and then show me what works and what doesn’t. I listen to them with awe. Recently necessity dictated that I have a plumber, a painter, and roofer come through my house and do some work. I am amazed at their precision on a project, looking at something and being able to see what has to be done. Another friend of mine is a tin smith. He cuts the tin that makes the vents and pipes for heaters and air conditioners. But I am being too simplistic he works to within a sixteenth of an inch sometimes to make things fit. If they don’t do their work properly, roofs leak, plumbing plugs up and construction falls apart. The good person in this industry says, “Not until you are satisfied and happy. That is when I leave your house.” I laugh at times because I know me. I will say, “That’s fine. Its good enough.” And my contractor says, “No. It’s not ok. I want you to be happy with the work.” And of course every job is an advertisement so it must be done well if I am to recommend him/her to someone else.
Several of us recently hiring were surprised to hear these people say, “I’ll send the bill. I know where to find you.” This person was trusting me to make all his work worthwhile by paying my bill.
Sing me the song of the worker,
the man with the strong arms and the keen eye;
the woman with the level and the plumbers’ wrench.
They do small jobs and large ones. They keep our little town operating. Completed projects which last for years are their signature of pride.
In all settings small and large they are the ones who add a touch of grace to the community.