-Bruce Springsteen, from “Prove It All Night”
I was 22. In the dead heat of the Maine summer sun I was furiously mixing mortar and stocking our chimney job with fieldstone. In those days we used a hoe and wheelbarrow, there was no iPhone 6. Barechested, caked in sweat, mortar, dust, I could barely keep up with the mason, my mentor Roger Messier. He noticed, climbed down off the scaffold, and while I was fetching more water picked up the hoe and continued mixing himself. Bringing the water over, I took the tools out of his hands, which was a ballsy move since Roger’s forearms were the same diameter as my thighs. “Please,” I begged, “ don’t do my job. Finish striking joints. The mortar will be there when you need it.” Furious, he swore under his breath, climbed the scaffold and resumed working the stone face.
Our client was a good friend of Roger’s, another middle aged tough as nails down east coot. He was a blacksmith, his rugged face etched with dark lines from decades of standing in front of the forge. He watched the whole scene while drinking iced tea in the nearby shade, enormously amused. I ignored him, the heat, the pain, everything but the task at hand. And Roger, to his credit, never did that again.