I missed my last time touchstone, my volitional calendar driven deadline – June 30th was for me a travel day, a return from an all too brief trip home, back to the current project bridge. It began as such days always do, then it somehow went beyond sideways. My phone went missing, and the airline employee who made it gone, looked me in the eye and told me she’d not seen it. In the ten minutes that passed before I realized just what had unfolded, that someone without the typical faceless anonymity of an average random thief of opportunity, had willingly thrown my life into upheaval and turmoil. She and it were ten minutes away and forever gone.
And though my June entry was fully planned and outlined, it was not yet put to paper – My distraction, hugely fueled by anger, meant one more thing went missing that day. Without any ability to know what they had taken, this thief had also stolen my muse…
So, my thought now, is to counter this thing of how horrible human beings can be to one another, with a story of just how wonderfully it is we can, almost without knowing it, touch the lives of those around us.
I would not be involved in the project I am right now, nor would I be writing about the subject of Bridgewrighting but for a simple act of kindness extended my way some twenty plus years ago now. I was newly returned to my home state after two years riding out that last recession in a Timber Shop in the Sunbelt, this followed by a nine month stint as a Journeyman Timberframer working on two historic replications in two far flung states. With a return to our homeplace, the family and I settled into our new home, I went back to work with an old friend. Weeks later the news of the day suggested I attend the launching a newly replicated Town Truss bridge which had been lost to arson just the year prior.
Thousands were in attendance, there to watch the out of the ordinary unfold – A nearly fully assembled traditionally built wooden through truss bridge being slowly rolled into place by multi-part Block & Tackle drawn up by rotating teams (this a double meaning) of Oxen being twitched around a capstan.
I was awash in a small sea of humanity, yet somehow. an acquaintance I knew from attending trade group presentations he had given, and with his having served as design engineer for a replication project I had been tied to in his adopted state of North Carolina some five months before, recognized me in that sea of faces. David Fischetti (< Click the underlined text for a deeper sense of the the man) called me over to the fence separating the crowd from the work area and suggested I needed to meet the Bridgewright heading up the efforts, he also suggested I hop the fence and follow him. David introduced me to Arnold, saying we ought to know one another, after very brief “Good to meet ‘cha“ pleasantries, I was asked if my tools were in my truck, and it was suggested if I had a mind to help “There’s a fella down under the bridge that could use a hand with some Timbah frame’n” – I spent the next two days working cooperatively, scribing, cutting and emplacing Lower Lateral Braces into a slowly rolling bridge. The fella I was tasked with working with that day is someone I have been working with on and off ever since. It so happens I’m helping Tim on the current project…
Years later, though we had crossed paths in the ensuing years, I took a few moments after attending another of David’s talks on Preservation engineering given to the Timber community, when I had the presence of mind to bring up his introductions that day, and to thank him for unintentionally changing my life, and to drive home to him, how his simple wave over, had for me, done so much.
Though this his choice had done, and that day sits so high in my mind as life altering, for Dave it held barely a glimmer of recollection.
With stories swapped with others who knew him well, and far better than I, I am convinced it was not just that busy weekends activities and the years that had passed, that shaped our differing recollections of the day. It was just that such a wave over and a hand up, were everyday for David. This was simply his nature.
Though such displays of gratitude are not entirely like me, I am forever glad I did reach out in return, as David was prematurely taken from us just a short few years later.
So, I ask this of you in remembrance – If you ever look over the fence, (be it physical, or implied and analogous) and recognize in someone on that other side, an earnest and deep interest in what it is you are doing…
Extend a hand, reach out, and invite them up and over, and be there.
Be there like David.