An Ordinary Day

February 19, 2008

I do many different things at work. One, of which, is to check contractor compliance. There are two of us that do this. One in the north and me in the south. As usual I rolled up to a job site the other day to administer a weekly inspection. This was the first time I would meet this crew since they started working in my area. They are typically up north. I jumped out of the truck and walked toward the work deck. I was looking for the owner/foreman when up popped some old guy. He had to be eighty or so and wearing a hard hat and safety vest. I thought to myself, ‘what’s a guy this old doing on a job site. He can’t possibly be working here‘. As the old guy walked up to me I bid him good morning. He says something and then keeps talking.

Well what can I say. This old guy is also a little guy, plus he apparently doesn’t talk loud either. This is important because we are surrounded by heavy equipment, that’s moving: you know, BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP, Rawrawr Rawrawr Rawrawr, clunk clunk whomp! So here I am trying to make first contact with a contractor and instead I’m standing next to Benny Hill’s little old sidekick who’s lips are moving but for all intensive purposes nothing is coming out. So I smile and nod my head a lot. I still want to know why this old man is here? Eventually the crew’s owner sees me and comes over to talk. He, the owner, says something and the old guy walks away.

Now the owner, Larry, and I have lots to talk about and for two hours he and I go over every aspect of his business while walking throughout the site. finally I was satisfied that we understood and were on good terms with each other. As I was concluding the conversation I, offhandedly, mentioned the old guy and asked who he was.

Larry informed me that the old guy’s name was Tommy and that he was the father of one of the men on the crew, Bobby. Larry then told me that Tommy has cancer and was given six months to a year to live last fall. He went on to say, as I was suddenly silent, that he hired Tommy so he and his son could spend what little time he has left together. It seams that the crew was in agreement that Tommy would be better off working with Bobby than at home sitting around worrying about his fate. Larry explained that Tommy could only make it to work several days out of the week. That they gave him the lightest jobs he could still handle. Ironic since, as it turns out, Tommy was a renaissance man when younger. He taught himself how to handle most equipment. Then, naturally, taught his son how to operate just about everything too.

Larry said that hiring Tommy was the best way to handle the situation. He then looked down at the ground and shook his head. He said that he wouldn’t know what to do if it was his daddy.

Larry’s company is very successful and he is one of our best contractors. Larry is well off and in his mid thirties. I like Larry. I like him a lot. Not because he has good business sense but because he will do for his employees as much as he would do for himself. That is not a common quality anymore. I feel both saddened and privileged. I hope I get another chance to talk to Tommy. He saw the doctors again last week. I need to find out how it went.


Tommy went to the doctor last week and was told that his cancer has moved faster than they thought it would and into everything. He took this very hard. He did not come back to work last week or this week, though I understand he can still get around. His son is still at work and the crew is worried about both of them. Call me naive but I’m still hoping for the best. Larry and I spent thirty minutes talking about our respective fathers. As I told my son, I will still be trying to impress my dad even when I’m eighty and he’s gone. I think most guys are like this. The one’s that can be that is. Which is probably why we won’t let go so easily.



  1. beautiful, thank you for sharing this with us

  2. WOW…you are so right. There are so few Larry’s out there. I think it would be so rewarding to work for a man like that. I don’t know why, which is to say, I haven’t explored why, I have such a desire to extend my loyalty.

    At my last job I was loyal to the company until they messed me over. I then gave my loyalty to people. At my current job, it took awhile, but I have given limited loyalty to a person. Why limited…?

    See….see what you have gone and done, maybe I liked that part of myself being in the dark, but nnnnnooooo, you had to go and put a spotlight on it.

    Thanks, I think, polar. 🙂 This is one of the most hopeful tales I have heard in a while. Thank you for the ‘ordinary post’.

  3. There are so few people who see the simple value and purpose of relationships in life. It sounds to me like this guy gets it. How fortunate for Bobby to have a boss who is able to hire a man, his ailing father, who would otherwise, sit and dwindle away.
    A great read and hopeful post. Thank you!

  4. It is the extraordinary in a day that makes us pause and realize what really matters most.I believe that Larry is living and making that living..
    This was a bright spot with wet eyes!

  5. This was one of the most heartlifting posts I’ve ever read, on every level. I’ll be sharing this story with as many people as I can. Compassion and humanity….what an effect Larry’s actions have had already.
    Polar, you are an extraordinary writer of ordinary things. You bring the sacredness of life to the forefront, those essential, ordinary things shine through in your writing.

    Please keep us posted the next time you have an ordinary day at this worksite….

    (and I love your SongSpot!!)
    Peace and smiles across the miles,

  6. I’m with sorrow…a definite bright spot but my eyes are welling with tears…thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  7. Gail,
    Thank you. I was fortunate to have it shared with me. If I had not asked I would never have known

    Extending your loyalty or wishing for a little respect? Don’t blame me I’m a simple spectator. If the spotlight is on you then I guess you need to start preforming.

    I have never heard of anyone doing this but will never forget it either. If ever this choice comes to me, the lesson has been learned, I’ll know what to do. Thank you Larry.

    Lady Sorrow,

    It stopped me in my tracks. I felt like an ass afterward for not being more attentive to Tommy, my elder after all. I pray for these guys. Mostly that they will have much time together.

    Your comment is very humbling. Profound thanks to you. For me it was an Ordinary day. Yet I was witness to something amazingly Extra-Ordinary. I have become aware of a man, a father, who wants to be with his son. Till the end. And another man who was compelled to help. My original idea for the post was the relationship between Fathers & sons. I thought it better to only present the facts and let everyone decide for themselves. There is no way I can add to this situation. Like I said I am saddened & privileged. It gladdens me that you & others are moved by this. There is goodness out here. Even if it’s sad.

    As soon as all of this was explained to me I knew I had to post it for all to read. Larry tells it better but I did my best. Updates to follow.

  8. ***Main post updated***

  9. Polar, this was a heartfelt post. In this modern day of corporate America, there are very few business owners or Corporate Pukes who show this level of humanity to one of its own. This is what you call Extra-Ordinary to the Nth Level.

    Thanks for sharing this experience. As you said “There is goodness out there (here).” Unfortunately, it is something of a rarity to witness first-hand.

  10. how can we “let go” of our parents? they are our anchor, connected so intimately at a cellular level…i cannot and do not wish to think of life without their physical love and presence in my life although i know the time will come when i no longer have the choice of having them close, spending time, laughs, loves, hugs…so precious

  11. Polar, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your “Today’s Lesson.”

    Are you just using a ‘Text Widget’ for this? Was curious because I may do something similar, LOL! Emulation is the greatest form flattery!


  12. Thank you for the update on Tommy….I’ll call you naive if you call me naive, too. Hoping for the best is sometimes all we have.

    I lost my dad to cancer 4 years ago now…he’s my hero. I still look for his smiling eyes whenever I “do good”.

    For Tommy and his son, I’ll offer up my daily struggles and hope for the best for them.

    Peace to you…..

  13. Our paths keep crossing so today I decided to take a peak here, and I am so happy I did!

    Your post was so inspiring! What a wonderful circle of love and positive energies throughout that entire company…from Larry to the fellow employees with their protective concern.

    Powerful and sage lessons…at a construction site!! Who would imagine such from a bunch of hard hats!
    You just never know from where our lessons / messages can come..if we our hearts are open to receive.

    Thank you for sharing the messages with us..I see you as part of the circle of love too.

    I’ll be back.

  14. This is a deeply heartening and poignant story. What a incredibly refreshing missive it is to know there are people like Larry in this world. This story is all about hope. The whole crew and you are there to reinforce the profound goodness of this deed and keep the essence of it alive. Thank you for the gift of “an ordinary day” with an extraordinary lesson, beautifully expressed and written with your heart on your sleeve.

  15. This is a heartening post, I agree with Motherwintermoon. To find people out there with kindness and concern in their hearts is uplifting and something we all need more of.

  16. Hawk,
    So rare is it that when one stubbles upon it they find themselves stunned into silence.
    Yes I’m using the Text Widget for the Todays Lesson bit. Knock yourself out and give it a try. I meant for it to be deep meaningful stuff but as it turns out I’m just a regular guy living regulars days. Later Bro.

    I agree, there’s no real letting go of loved ones. Perhaps just an acceptance of not seeing them around anymore at best. I like change but dislike parting company with those I love. Dobry Den.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your father. I am sure that when you do good he in fact still smiles and you are the only one who sees it. For Tommy there’s no change since the last update. The guys are near the completion of their contract so I may not see them for a while. And I don’t mind being naive with such good company. Thanks. Walk easy & be peace. Dobry Rano.


    Welcome to the Court. I’m glad you found something noteworthy on your visit. Most of what you’ll find here are unique moments that I was only witness too. And from this stand I point my finger into the Court. Testifying of deeds done both righteously or wrongfully.
    I love your line, “Who would imagine such from a bunch of hard hats!”. I’ve never heard it put that way and its makes my laugh. Honestly I wouldn’t either. Thank you for stopping by. Look forward to hearing more from you. Dobry Den.

    There is something to being in the presence of individuals who do not take life for granted. Time slows down, my breath becomes audible, and the Sun exposes shadows I’ve not seen before. And if I’m paying attention I’ll shut up and listen. I’ve learned many things this way. I learned more about this crew in five minutes than I did in the previous two hours. Life like to surprise us I guess. Dobry Den.


    Yes I do not think there can be to much kindness & concern. We suffer so much maliciousness & apathy as it is. These guys have been given their test and with sad consequences. I think the only choice we ever really get is not what outcome we want but how we will react to it. Dobry Noc

  17. This story seriously put tears in my eyes, Polar. You’re right that what Larry did for Tommy and Bobby is a rare thing, but it still can bring hope to a fallen world that men of stature, men of principle, men of heart still exist in this sorry world and you are blessed to have met one. When you see Larry again, tell him thank you for me for his great heart and sense of compassion for his fellow man, would you? He made me weep with joy for his soul. Thanks, Polar..:)

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