I had this wrench on my desk today and I had a mini flashback to 1973.
That was the year I boarded my first ship. It was at a dock just a short ride south from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, on the Delaware River.
Actually an ear infection changed the direction my life was about to take.
When someone gets hired off the street to be in the Merchant Marine, there are 3 departments you have a chance to end up in. The Steward Department, where you work in the galley, the Engine Room, where you work on the ships equipment and the Deck Department, where you work on deck, working with lines and chipping and painting.
My paperwork said I was to be a " Food Handler", which is another name for a mess boy. His job is to serve the food, do the dishes and cut the potatoes. Over time, you can work your way up to be a cook, and then to the Steward position.
A physical I took shortly before I boarded the ship showed I had an ear infection, or swimmers ear.
Law stated that I couldn't work around food with an infection, so my job title was quickly changed to "Wiper." I was now a member of the engine department. They don't care about infections in the Engine Department.
It really made no difference to me. I couldn't, and still can't cook, so I probably wasn't going to be a good fit in the galley.
But you never know. Before joining the engine room, my knowledge of tools was, well, non existent.
My dad's tool box was located in one of our kitchen drawers. It's contents consisted of a hammer, 2 screwdrivers and a couple of bent nails. He didn't need tools.
He was a newspaper man. He built beautiful stories, not wooden decks
So I was starting at zero when I first walked down into that sauna like engine room that humid August day many years ago.
If I didn't have that ear infection, maybe I'd have these on my desk today instead of that wrench.
Who knows, maybe I would have been an awesome cook.
I seriously doubt it.
See these cookies?
I made them today.
From a box.
See the dark ones on the far plate.
They're supposed to be the same color as the lighter ones.
I momentarily lost focus.
That ear infection was probably a blessing in disguise.