Thursday, February 17, 2011

Small Things

Years ago, I worked at a factory making tubing for auto parts. Those weren’t the best of times.

It was a loud, depressing place, full of machines. Some were automatic, others you had to manually operate, bending different tubes into shapes that would somehow fit in the engine compartment of one car or another. It was hot, grueling work. The only real plus was the pay check, which wasn’t much of a plus.

But there were a few of us who became friends because we were stuck together on one of the machines. This machines was huge. And by huge I mean HUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. It was practically as big as a small house. A team of operators would sit at different parts of the machine and do their piece, then send it along to the next part, assembly line fashion, until the part finally fell off the end into some big wooden box. Talk about being cogs in the machine. We were cogs.

But we were singing cogs.

Right about that time, the song “We Are the World,” came out. It was on the radio constantly, blaring through the factory. And this one group of us who were on the big machine, learned all the parts and began impersonating the different singers as we lip synched to the song. We did this and we laughed so hard. It was really funny. I mean, I suppose it was funnier because of where we were and all that, but it was funny. It was a relief in the day.

One of the guys was named John. He did the Joe Cocker bit. And it was a perfect fit. He really looked like Joe Cocker, but even funnier than Joe Cocker looks. It was hysterical.

And out of that little experience, we struck up a conversation. Then we started to hang out a little. Not a lot, but a little, here and there. And eventually I thought of him as a good friend. And we stayed friends over the years, long after I left the machine shop, mostly because of John. He would always call me to keep in touch, which. I wasn’t very good at. In my past, too many people had left and never looked back, so I kind of got used to the next thing being the next thing. I didn’t do a lot of looking back. I still don’t. It’s not easy for me. But John kept in touch, so we kept in touch. We’d talk now and then. We went out to eat a few times. We started going to a comic convention together every year. It was a blast seeing him.

We were friends up until his death a few years ago. He had a stroke. He was in his early forties and it was a great tragedy. But we had a good friendship. We shared life in common. He came to share my faith. And it taught me to appreciate the small things, the goofy little experiences that we share together in life. Laughing and singing and sharing things in common. These things are seeds for friendships and connections that can be meaningful and lasting.

Today, I thought of him, and I was missing my friend.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

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