Forces At Work

He is nameless to the world at large, to the world that takes little notice of machine tools and metalworking. Though his kind is legion, no one in Hollywood or Washington or Wall Street pays much attention.

Columns From: 4/29/2008 Modern Machine Shop, ,

He is nameless to the world at large, to the world that takes little notice of machine tools and metalworking. Though his kind is legion, no one in Hollywood or Washington or Wall Street pays much attention. His story goes something like this:

Every workday he pulls into the gravel lot outside the shop. Before he gets out, he glances at the familiar brick building, second home to the company—the first was a rented bay in a nearby garage. He's seen two expansions at the present site and anticipates a third. Growth and change, growth and change. They go together, he reminds himself. That's why you make yourself go through both. It's how you stay alive.

It takes two pumps to get himself out of the seat. "Too many cheeseburgers, Dad" claims one of his kids at home. But he knows that's not the only reason. It's the years, too. Then he thinks of other things his kids say and do. He has a favorite memory of each one, which flashes through his mind like pages flipping by in a photo album.

Family. It's often occurred to him that he works most of all for them. Some people say they work for a boss. Others say with a smirk that they work for Uncle Sam. Everybody works for a pay check, but it's not simply the money. What makes the pay check so precious is what it can buy for others you love. That's the big motivation for him.

Yeah, a little of the money goes for his hobby and, yeah, he has more stuff than he has time to get the fun out of and, yeah, he thinks about getting even more stuff, better stuff.

But he also works to satisfy himself. He has a job to do, not just a position to hold in the company. Projects have to be completed. Customers have to be pleased. Doing good work makes you a better person, he knows. And he is good at what he does, even though just how good often only he can detect. He figures the next guy is the same, with talents that go unrecognized.

Working with good people is good, too. The team thing. He learned that playing ball as a kid—the respect of his teammates was the best reward for playing well. That was why you tried so hard then, that's why you still try hard now.

And someday, he can see, there will be a whole lifetime to look back on, a life given over to work in the shop. But at this moment, his hand is on the entrance door. Forces are pushing him. Forces are pulling him. He draws all of them in and, as he walks through, makes of them the energy to carry on.

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