“Put the tools away when you’re done using them,” – one of my dad’s favorite sayings when I was younger. Apparently, my brother and I had a little difficulty with that concept. We’d use his tools to fix our bikes, to work on toys, or to build things, and then we’d forget to finish the job, leaving screwdrivers, sockets, wrenches, hammers (and anything else we dug out of his toolbox) laying wherever we’d been working – usually in the yard. He’d find them the next day, or the next week, or later. Sometimes, they were still usable!
Bigger tools like rakes, shovels, and picks were not immune from our absent-minded approach to tool placement. We’d drop them, and then leave them, moving on to other things.
One day, we decided to use my dad’s tools to dig a tunnel under the street, from one side to the other. The street went up a fairly steep hill and the place we set up our operation, the top of the road measured about fifteen or twenty feet off the ground level. We worked more than a single day on our project, weeks in fact. Eventually, we had a sizeable tunnel, big enough for both of us to fit inside and work, standing up. Digging the dirt loose with a pick and then loading it with shovels into a wheelbarrow, we hauled it out.
To help keep our work hidden, the entrance to our tunnel was obscured by some bushes and a large pile of dirt from the excavation of a building site for a new church. The pile of dirt outside grew daily, but apparently, no one seems to notice the exact size of a pile of dirt.
We managed to dig the tunnel, maybe a quarter of the way across the street – and then we moved, leaving everything as it was under the street. Everything included my dad’s pick and maybe a shovel or two. A driveway for the new church building is now where the opening of our tunnel was, and after more than thirty years, I think it’s safe to assume the street is not going to collapse – at least I hope not. On the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. I might find my dad’s pick! Or, not.
After this incident, (and several others) you’d think I would have learned to put tools away when I was finished with them. But no, I still haven’t. I don’t generally leave them in the yard though.
This past weekend, I stopped at my parents’ house. My dad is building a retaining wall behind his house and while I was there, I went around to take a look at his progress. The wall is coming along nicely, but that’s not what captured my attention. There, with a couple of shovels, was a pick. I guess at some point in the last thirty-some years, he replaced it. Although, he might not have it long. Now, I know he wasn’t actually done using it when I was there, however, when I saw it, the pick was laying in the yard!