Thursday, December 13, 2012
THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELT
I'm a carpenter. Been one for over thirty years now. And I've been wearing that ol' toolbelt in the picture above for over twenty of them. Sure, there's been breaks in the action. I've done the management thing on and off, owned a few businesses and the like but even all that has still revolved around construction - and carpentry.
Seems like that's what I was meant to do. Damn the luck. Why wasn't I meant to be a brain surgeon or Wall Street banker? Definitely would have made more money. And I could'a kept my wife in the style she'd like to grow accustomed to. Oh well, it is what it is.
Carpenters belong to a rather exclusive club. It didn't used to be. There was a time when the membership was vast, and growing bigger every year. But not so much anymore. I like to think of it as the Fraternal Order of the Toolbelt.
It's not really a secret society or anything. Hell, we wear our affiliation around our waists. You can generally tell which chapter we belong to by the tools we carry in our belts. There's carpenters, of course, but there's also electricians, linemen, tinners, roofers and on and on.
Anybody can get a belt. Just run down to the local hardware store. But, just because you can put one on, don't ever make a mistake and think you're part of the Brotherhood. No, membership just ain't that easy. It requires sweat, blood and skill. And time...oh so much time. We can pick out the wanna-be's in a heartbeat. It's in the way they carry themselves and the way they use their tools. And in their shiny new belts.
Now, everybody has to get a new belt ever so often. But for some reason, a life member of the Brotherhood can just wear it differently than the wanna-be. Maybe it's the old, well worn tools that fill it. Maybe it's the way the tools are placed, and the tools that are chosen. Maybe it's just the stiffness in the walk, the way you can tell a brother's been at it a while and his dues are all paid up and current. There's a sense of time, experience and authority that you can't get watching HGTV. Sorry, the DIY guy may be good, he may be very good, but he'll never get in the Brotherhood. We don't have honorary positions.
The next time a brother comes to your office to fix something, you drive by a new house under construction, with brothers sweating and bleeding in the hot summer sun, or walk pass a brother on a ladder up the side of a telephone pole, just give us a tip of the hat. We might not have college degrees, though you may be surprised at the number of us that do, and we might be a little rough around the edges, heavy drinkers and prone to foul language. But the world can't run without us.
And honestly, most of you can't run with us, either. We'll wear you down by ten o'clock break.
We're an ancient order, one that's growing much more slowly than it has in the past but one that will never die away. We're the builders, the ones that keep this world moving on.
We're the Brotherhood of the Belt.