Friday, February 4, 2011

The Forgotten Tool

The things which bring memories into your head, you know what I am saying, like the pair of wire cutters I found underneath our house, The lost tool that someone is missing from their tool pouch from years gone by, completely covered with rust and frozen into place by years of lying in one spot and not moving.

When I was first promoted to serviceman with the water company, I was told to go down and purchase whatever tools I needed to get my truck set up, shovels and rakes, and implements of destruction were bought, pipe wrenches, screwdrivers, crescents which were modified to fit the purposes of the job and a whole list of other tools to fill my toolbox, it felt really good to begin my new position with everything I needed to do a good job.

My job consisted of a whole lot more than just turning water off and on, there were days I was on the end of a shovel so to say digging up services to repair leaks, this turned into a never ending learning process, the heavy concrete meter boxes which housed the water meters is a tight place to be working, a leak in the bottom of these boxes sometimes caused me to completely dig up and remove the box to simply tighten a nut, none of the pipe wrenches or new tools I had would reach without first removing the box.

While unloading scrap meters and broken lids from my truck one day I found a pile of old shovels and a couple handmade wrenches rusted over lying on the scrap trailer, I looked the wrenches over thinking I could clean them up to display in my office, if I ever figured out what they were that is, one of the other servicemen laughed saying that someone wasted a lot of time on those worthless tools, I took them into the shop, placed them into the bead blaster and blasted all the rust away, the initials C.L.B. slowly appeared on the handles.

Clyde retired from the water company before I ever started, but he was a friend who I would stop and visit when I read meters, he always had a good story and tales of when he worked there, I took these tools over to his house and he smiled, I asked what in the hell are these Clyde and do you want them, he laughed and said “throw them in your toolbox, they will come in handy one day”, I took his advice and placed the funny looking tools with the twisted handles and thin odd angled jaws into my tool box among my other wrenches.

A few days later while working on a leak, I could see all I needed to do was tighten a nut at the bottom of a box, nothing I had would fit and to dig up this box would be an all day job, it was in the middle of a concrete driveway and a jackhammer would have to be called in, while staring into my toolbox trying to sort out my next move I grabbed one of Clyde’s tools, this funny looking tool almost fell right into place all by itself when I reached down into the box, I could turn the nut about a quarter of a turn and no more, but the angle of the other wrench turned it another quarter turn, and using the two tools together I got the job done with no digging.

When I retired I left these tools in my toolbox for the new serviceman, and after a new man was hired to take over my truck I stopped by the office to meet him one day, standing out by my old truck he gave me some of my personal items I had forgotten, he reached into the bed of the truck to retrieve the funny looking wrenches, saying what the hell are these Jimmy? I laughed and told him, “throw them in your toolbox, they will come in handy one day”, he grinned and said I’ll take your word on that and placed them into the same slot I had always kept them.

After a few days of soaking in a tub of WD-40 I gently tapped all of the rust I could remove from the old wire cutters, an hour I spent tapping and spraying, I almost got excited when I heard the grinding sound of the jaws starting to move, they are finally moving freely and the rust is slowly falling away, I think I’ll throw them into my toolbox because you never know they just may come in handy one day.


  1. Ahhhh-- The MOTHER of INVENTION!!! Glad you got these buddy. A Life Lesson for us all! Other people have done a lot of the work for us: and we should VALUE THEM!

    Great stuff!


  2. What a faaaaaaabulous story, Jimmy!

    I know this sounds crazy, but it really touched me because as John shared, there's a great life lesson in this. It's kinda how I see the value in jewelry. I'm not much of a jewelry person at all, but if it's something like a ring or watch that was owned by someone I know/knew, it's like having a piece of them with you; that gets handed down through each generation.

    Love all the changes you did on your blog design, buddy!

    Wishing you and Cindy a wonderful weekend!

  3. I agree with becca.. you tell the best stories..
    Seems like whenever I find something old it's flat out worn-out.:-)

  4. Classic!!!
    I loved this story!
    Business is really about the guy on the street, or behind the counter, or driving the truck. We can live without the CEO, CFO, MBA and all the other suits in a company. What we can't live without, is the guy who actually does the job. That is what keeps EVERYTHING going...

  5. I keep telling the women at work that an old tool is good to keep around :-)

  6. The perfect legacy to pass down. When the new guy finally discovers the use of the tools he will think back to you and say, "That Jimmy -- pretty darn smart!"

  7. Thank You, Barb, Tress, and Linda I am proud you enjoyed it :^)

    Amen John, Taking time to listen when those who were there before us speak, is a lesson most folks miss.

    Hey Ron, I am with you my Friend, I have small items from several of my relatives who have passed on and just looking on these makes me fell a part of them is still here, I hope those old tools keeps Clyde’s memory alive so to say.

    Glad you like the changes, I felt it was time to clean up a bit :^)

    Thank You Becca, I am honored.

    Lynne, Sometimes those items completely worn out have such a history behind them, which makes them more valuable than if they were new. Thank You my Friend.

    So Right Pat, The people doing the actual work are the ones who keep this country running, most of the suits have never been in the trenches so to say, and that my friend is a sad fact.

    Hey Chief, Without some of the old tools how in the world would the younger ones get by, you keep telling them Buddy ;^)

  8. Hey Jerry, As I did with Clyde, the man was a smart one.

  9. Jimmy, I just loved this story. It is so true with the life lessons we learn as we go and things that seem odd just fall right into place. Love it!

  10. Thank You Peg, There are so many life lessons out there if we just stop and listen, something that looks odd or out of place just may be the tool we need at times, and the old ways are the best for most things too :)

  11. What a gift to pass on and to receive. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears of labor saved in them :-) Wonderfully told Jimmy.

  12. This story reminds me of my husband, who can never seem to find the right size wrench(?) for our oil filters.....I keep telling him it would be cheaper to just go get a $20 oil change than to constantly be buying tools to try to do it himself!

  13. Hey Angelia, You are so right, the right tool can save a lot of heartache and listening to those who have done it before is a blessing if we just take time to learn from them.

    Thank You my Friend

  14. Bijoux, Just think by the time it's all said and done he will be like me, a whole shop full of tools and taking the car down for an oil change :^)


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