Posted by chip arnold on Thursday, November 15, 2007
Back around 1980 or so I quit the sawmill and got a little work building shelves for the commissary at a new Boy Scout camp in our county. I was getting paid $5.00 an hour and that was the most I'd ever made at a job. When lunchtime came, a bunch of us would sit out together to eat and talk. One of the guys on the brush clearing crew kind of stood out. As is said around here "he couln't talk plain". Aside from his speech impediment he seemed pretty much like everyone else except maybe he had a quicker smile than most.
Time went by and I worked a few more years as a mechanic and a carpenter. In '86 I was still at $5.00 an hour turning wrenches when a friend offered to help me get a real estate license. I did it. At first it seemed like just the thing. Land was cheap here and prices were within reach of the working folks who were coming to the mountains for an affordable vacation cabin, a few acres for later or a little place to retire to. They were hunting a relaxed, friendly place where they could slow their lives down and be part of a community.
But it's all about supply and demand isn't it? Soon enough the prices went up and in a few years, the middle class carriers of lunchboxes stopped coming. More BMWs and a lot less Chevys. Along with the higher prices and BMWs came a new kind of buyer. They didn't seem interested in the culture of the mountains. In fact they seemed to look at local culture with disdain. They wanted the lake, the view and a weekend "cabin" bigger and fancier than what most local folks had for a home.
But my life was so much easier now that I was selling real estate. I didn't have to do backbreaking work anymore and $5.00 an hour was a dim memory. I didn't like what I saw happening to the mountains but having moved here from someplace else myself I didn't see where I had much room to complain. I didn't get anywhere close to rich selling real estate but I did get comfortable with my new found ease and a little spending money.
Which brings me back to the man from the brush clearing crew. He had got himself an old log truck and a chainsaw and was making a living clearing road right of ways and uderbrushng lots for the developers who had sprung up to meet the demands of the real estate boom. One day we got a call at the office. Ever see a loaded log truck? He'd been standing on top of the load when the standards gave way and he went down with the logs. Busted him all to hell. He was dressed in ill fitting clothes and had his hair slicked back the next time I saw him. The quick smile wasn't there. But what held my attention was his hands. They were a testament, a signature of his life written in black pores, callouses, unhealed cuts and scrapes and split nails. It was easy to study them. They were crossed at his chest.
That night I came to understand that my new life of relative ease didn't come for free. My once calloused hands had become smooth and my pores were clean. But he'd been out there working every day. Every hot day and every cold day. In the rain and in the snow and in the mud. And after spending the day making the mountain subdivisions possible, he went home to his singlewide trailer, his wife and his kids.
It's not an exageration to say that Mr Lynch had carried me on his back every working day. He was the very foundation of what I had counted as my own success. Without his saw and his truck and his sweat and his hands, I would have had nothing to sell to the folks driving up the new four lane from Florida and Atlanta. And without his low wages, I couldn't have had my little sojourn on easy street.
So that's my story about Mr Lynch, the real estate boom in N. Ga. and how I learned that no matter where we stand, we're likely to be on someone else's back. Here's to the folks at the bottom of the pile. May we all have soft hearts and soft shoes.
u k sandra Says:
Thursday, November 15, 2007 @5:10:50 PM
You`re right Chip. Nobody is any more important than anybody else. If the people at the bottom of the chain didn`t do their job, the next one up couldn`t do theirs and so on. The big doctors at the hospitals couldn`t do their jobs if the cleaners didn`t do theirs. We should all remember that.
Thursday, November 15, 2007 @6:50:33 PM
I got friends in LOW PLACES........
Ron Farr Says:
Thursday, November 15, 2007 @9:18:45 PM
- Follow your dreams - Bet Mr Lynch was -
Friday, November 16, 2007 @6:46:32 AM
Beautiful story Chip. A great reminder to appreciate others for their contributions.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007 @12:16:33 PM
I love the way Chip Arnold thinks (and writes). What's life after real estate, Chip?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 @11:25:58 PM
Wonderful sentiment... well told. You're an excellent writer, Chip. But the thoughts you articulate so well are very powerful.
So I'm wondering the same thing Steve is... what's next?
Blessings to you in 2008.
Saturday, January 5, 2008 @10:50:59 PM
It's a shame to lose a feller with a quick smile. We need all those guys we can get. You do have a way with an essay, Chip.
Kate Somerville Says:
Saturday, January 12, 2008 @4:40:59 PM
Hey, Chip: thanks again for keeping it right size and real.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 @2:06:26 PM
Chip...your story tells alot about you and what kind of person you are, and it's all good!
Friday, February 1, 2008 @11:47:38 PM
I'm proud to know you, Chip. That story is true to the bone, and straight from the heart. That's some of the best and most honest writing I've ever seen on the internet.
Monday, March 3, 2008 @5:20:19 PM
So Chip...when are you publishing your first book?...you have a real talent for writing my friend
chip arnold Says:
Monday, March 3, 2008 @6:38:41 PM
Thank you everyone for the wonderful comments. I'm awful shy about writing and so this feedback really means a lot to me.
Pete Peterson Says:
Sunday, March 9, 2008 @1:59:31 PM
Great story, Chip. And good writing, too! If I remember, you claim to be shy about playing the banjo from the stage, too, but I've seen you do it more & more in recent years. Hugs from Kellie to you and Tish, and from PETE
Friday, March 21, 2008 @11:40:18 AM
"Mr Lynch and his Log Truck", very powerful. Very well written. I have also worked bottom jobs and worked with folks that were overlooked. I could never put them in words like you have. Good job , very enlightening.
Friday, July 18, 2008 @10:47:27 AM
Hi Chip, That was great!! My husband always said that money isn't everything and happiness can't be bought. He loved this site and spent a lot of time here before he passed away. His music made him happy, we were able to live a good life, by far, we weren't rich, but you can see by pictures of us, that we didn't starve!! He left me three wonderful children and nine grandchildren, I think that is were the great life is!! Helen (RC Cook's wife)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 @8:33:40 AM
Chip, great story why does it sound so familiar after 25 yrs in a sawmill. I have so many times wondered how the men at the mill even worked out in the rain and snow for minimum compensation while I sat in a nice warm booth with heat and ac making a good bit more. I started at the bottom and after sawmill school worked in every position in the mill on my way to the saw cab. Never really made it near the top but much better off than some of the workers. I almost quit at times thinking about it and was told if I didn't do my job they couldn't do theirs. It was crazy to try to understand it and I thought of some of the higher ups in the companies that were so often disliked because they had to do their jobs. But there's a point I think for everyone as to how far you'll go or push others to keep from being pushed yourself. But thats some of what a sawmill is all about.
Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I was lucky enough to just loose some fingers but I know several men that ended up as Mr Lynch one in WV almost the exact same way.
Please keep writing and picking.
Paul & Linda Lou
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 @8:05:53 AM
Funny the way people pass through the movie of your life without playing a leading role yet leave such an impression!Sometimes a fleeting moment can enlighten us more than a hundred books it seems to me.
Like yourself I've done my fair share of physical work (enough to know not to romanticise it too much!) and it does give you some understanding of the hardships some people have to endure.It often reminds me of how lucky I am to work in a safe,dry,clean environment.There are heroes everywhere.
All the best,Shane.
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