Friday, January 10, 2014
I did something Tuesday I’d really never done before. I stuck my head out the door, and I said to myself, “this ain’t going to be good.” If you need to be reminded it was all of about 20 degrees around nine or so. I already had on my heavy coat and socks, yep, socks. But with my eyeballs freezing I knew I needed a little more, but with a heavy coat, long-legged britches, socks, gloves and a hat I was running out of ideas. Then I got to thinking about something Mel had given me a couple years ago for Christmas that got stuck back in the closet, to be honest I figured I’d never wear it. But after a minute or two of figuring how to wear it, I was out the door.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, it was a scarf. Now there’s nothing wrong with them, I’ve just never worn one. I’ve spent many days and nights in a sawmill in twenty degree weather, and a scarf really just wasn’t a great idea. Let’s face it; a gearbox and a scarf just aren’t a great match. Something tied around your neck, and moving gears really don’t go together all that well. And once you get in the habit of doing something, well, it’s just kinda hard to change. But once I got it wrapped around my neck, and stepped outside, all I could think of is, this is the best invention since sliced bread.
And as I was riding down the road all snug and cozy I got to wondering what else I had been missing all these years. When I first started out years ago at the sawmill, I started out with a bunch of guys who were old school. I remember one time I had on a pair of gloves and one of them asked me what was wrong with my hands, when I replied why; he asked me why I had gloves on. This was before all the new safety rules. “What’s the matter, you got ladies hands?” Needless to say it was a while before I let him see me wearing gloves.
Then there was Wildman. One morning I was headed to work, and it was cold, just like this morning. As I was headed down the long two-mile stretch into the mill, I saw something coming up behind me. Then about that time it blew by me, a old beat of Harley chopper, before I knew it all there was left was a small red light getting smaller and smaller. As I pulled in the mill, Wildman was just climbing off his Hawg, wearing just an old thin jean jacket and a toboggan. All I could say was, “You must be crazy,” but then he was called Wildman, “You ain’t freezing?” “Nah, just a little cool.”
Like I said he was old school. One morning, before daylight, a friend of mine saw The Boss, he was the sawmill foreman, staring up at the sky on the other side of the drop sorter. Curiosity got the best of him, “Hey Boss, what ya doing?” “Trying to get that nut down!” There, thirty foot off the ground, walking on a frost-covered 24-inch diameter blow pipe was The Wildman, banging on the stopped up pipe with a ten-pound sledge hammer. And every couple minutes he’d holler, “Wildman, get down here”, and in between the BAMS, there in the dark, clear as a bell you could hear, “I got it Boss, I got it.”
And I guess it kind of rubbed off on me. One night, about two in the morning, while I was leaning on the stairs by the Chip-N-Saw I felt a little cool breeze tickling me on my back. So I just walked in the office and got my vest, and kind of snuggled in to it. A few minutes later I noticed one of the young guys pointing at me and staring. Then a few minutes later I saw a couple more staring at me. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I asked one of them what’s going on. And that’s when he smiled at me and said, “We was just talking Mr. Robbin, it must be finally getting cold, YOU got a coat on!”
And I guess that’s why I was laughing a little when I walked out the door all snuggled up in my scarf this morning. I could hear the ghosts of those old school sawmill guys now:
“Well ain’t you cute, you got a set of gloves to go with that pretty little scarf.”
You may reach Robbin Bruce by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.