When Uncle Bob and Leighton fixed the back steps together
Around 1970, while visiting his father in Mt. Olive, Uncle Bob noticed that the back porch steps were in a state of disrepair. Upon sizing up the amount and kind of work involved, how much time he had left on his vacation, and that Leighton was available to help; Uncle Bob decided that replacing the back steps would make for a fine afternoon’s recreation. By this time Leighton was an adult, had been out on his own for a while, and had acquired a considerable level of expertise in tasks involving carpentry skills. So Uncle Bob and Leighton began a collaborative effort to replace the back steps. Never in the history of Mt. Olive had so much brain power (in units of ideas per square inch of project) been expended as was that afternoon.
While Uncle Bob was certainly receptive to listening to Leighton’s ideas about how the project could be accomplished, Uncle Bob already had a pretty good idea of how he wanted to do it. During the course of the afternoon, Leighton became a little frustrated because he perceived that his ideas on how to do the work were not being implemented as frequently as he believed their merit warranted. At one point, Leighton just couldn’t stand it anymore and he exclaimed:
You don’t want someone to help you,
you just want someone to hand you tools and admire your work!
Uncle Bob got a very puzzled expression on his face and responded with something along the lines of:
Yes, and your point is . . .?
Once Leighton realized that he had unexpectedly stumbled across exactly what his dad wanted in an assistant, Leighton resigned himself to this role and they worked together without incident until the job was finished. And when finished, it was a fine piece of work.
During the intervening years I have come to appreciate that there are times when all I want is “someone to hand me tools and admire my work.”