Finders-Keepers?

12 08 2010

Tiny Tim the Tool Man Taylor
hammer and nailFor as long as I can remember I have had a love of tools of all kinds. Although I’m partial to woodworking tools such as saws, hammers, and planes, I still enjoy the feel of a good quality wrench or ratchet in my hand. And it isn’t just hand tools I love. I love the buzz of a vibrating palm sander as much as the ear-piercing whir of a circular saw slicing through a piece of wood. Even when I was a small boy, I loved tools. I remember my daddy had a large green tool box filled with carpenters’ tools. I took every opportunity to “build” something using daddy’s tools, even though at five years old I wasn’t strong enough to push a handsaw through a pine board; but, that didn’t’ stop me from trying.

It was about this same time, and we lived in the small community of Saratoga, North Carolina, population somewhere around 400. There was a house next door which was owned by the Outlaws. They weren’t outlaws in the criminal sense; this was their name. What was interesting about the Outlaws was they lived somewhere else and we rarely saw them. Once in a blue moon they might show up for a day or two and then they would be gone again for weeks, or months, at a time.

Now, the Outlaws had a shed behind their house and on one of my earlier explorations of the neighborhood, I had discovered a cache of tools inside. I couldn’t understand owning all these great tools and not using them; not caring for them; not even locking the shed to protect them!

When you want something badly enough, it is really easy to convince yourself it is okay to do it, or in this case, take it, especially if you are just a kid. I just figured, in my still developing young mind, if these people next door never came around, then they don’t really live next door; they must live somewhere else. And, if they live somewhere else, then that means no one lives next door, rendering these tools underneath the shed available like unclaimed pirate treasure, or a dollar bill blowing down the sidewalk. So, thoroughly convinced, now, that these tools were in public domain and were there for the taking, I made the decision they were as much my tools as anyone’s. My cousin, Lee, (the same cousin in Fire in the Hole, from an earlier post) was spending the day at our house so I convinced him to go over to the Outlaw’s shed with me where we loaded ourselves down with as many tools as we could carry and brought the plunder back to my house. There, lying on my back porch, were block planes, jack planes, saws of various types, a hammer, clamps, and—well, let’s just say I was in pee-wee carpenter heaven. I couldn’t have been happier if I had been given the keys to the candy store.

Busted!
Now it wasn’t long before my daddy came home. I hadn’t made any effort to hide my spoils because I was convinced it was a legitimate haul. When daddy got home however, he didn’t see it the same way I did and after a brief question and answer session about the origin of the tools, he taught me something about taking things that didn’t belong to me.

I had not bought those tools. I didn’t barter or trade for them. I didn’t win them in a drawing or contest. I had made no action that would enable me to lay legal claim to those tools. In other words, they were not mine and I was wrong in taking them. I stole them, although I didn’t see it that way for a while.

Lee and I were made to take the tools back to the shed.

When you’re five years old you don’t always understand the logic in an explanation presented by an adult, but daddy was always good at explaining things to me in a way I could understand. That day; however, he chose a more direct explanation that did not involve words. If you replace the words in a discussion with action, such as a hand across the rear end, then there is no doubt regarding the message and no doubt that the recipient has understood. There are no words to misinterpret or confuse. Daddy’s message was, it was wrong and I had better not ever take anything again that was not bought for, or given, to me. It still was not clear to me why I could not keep my ill-gotten booty, but what was clear was daddy’s message that it better not happen again. And, of course, he was right. Chalk one up for the anti-Dr. Spockers!

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6 responses

12 08 2010
Wendy Brown

I loved that story!! Grandpa was great at teaching lessons, I saw him teach a bunch to the boy cousins!! haha..

12 08 2010
Bill Taylor

None they weren’t in serious need of!

12 08 2010
Jackie Garner

Thanks for sharing such an awesome story.
I have always believed in spankings because they were far and few with my children but whenever I did have to give them a lesson that needed to be learned they have always learned the whys of them. I wish more Parents could do this when neccesary Things have changed so much since we were kids or since we raised our own Again ….thanks for sharing such terrific memory with all of us….and what you learned from it

12 08 2010
Bill Taylor

Yep, Lolli, there’s a lot to be said for that spare the rod maxim. It seemed to work for me and mine. Maybe if more had practiced it this would be a better world.

13 08 2010
Susan Taylor Johnson

Hey I am your cousin Susan. Sharon told me she saw you the other day where she works at. She told me about this web page. I have enjoyed reading your writings!!!!

14 08 2010
Bill Taylor

Hello Susan. It’s been a very long time. Please thank Sharon for sharing the information about my blog. I’m so glad you are enjoying it.

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