The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stretching Question Two of...Five

Every day in the shipyard, workers gather in manageable groups of a few dozen, generally separated according to the various trades, and "stretch." Along with dozens of other fitters, I stand outside in whatever weather is beholden and go through a series of ligament warming, muscle waking, and bone bending exercises designed to prepare our bodies for a safe and productive day.

During this grind, one of the leaders begins to ask us some of the FOUR questions we should ask ourselves throughout the day.  I have come up with an additional QUESTION FIVE to ask myself every day, but first...

You might want to read about question one here before going on.


"How can I hurt my partner today?"

This question can more readily be taken wrongly by those who do not get along with their assigned partner!  But there would be SO much paperwork required, so I might as well go along with the spirit of the question and see what I can do to protect him from an accident.

Many jobs in the shipyard could be done by one person working alone, but we are almost always paired up.  Two heads are better than one, they say; two backs are stronger together than separately, has been said much more eloquently in the Proverbs; and most importantly, if one guy is on fire the other guy can put him out or at least let him know so he can put himself out.  Just the other day I put out a very small fire that was growing on my partner's shoulder.  He did not know (yet), because he was wearing his welding helmet, that a hot spark had landed in a cozy spot on his new sweatshirt.  Several times I have let people know that the frayed cuff of their jeans was ablaze, and at least once, I was kindly informed that my boot needed no more kindling.

We are told to "SLAM" our jobs every day.  Stop, Look, Assess and Manage the work in order to accomplish each task with safety.  This goes for myself and for my partner.  Oftentimes, the other perspective on a job is vital.  Standing back while he climbs or reaches or is buried behind a dark shield, I can see a potential danger before it goes kinetic on him.  (But what if I don't like my partner and I want to actually SLAM him?  Oh, never mind.)

How dependent on you is your "partner"?  Or your neighbor?  Or maybe a sibling that nobody in the world knows like you do?  Even that stranger texting and walking off the curb so carelessly.  The little girls playing on the dock without life preservers on.  Have you overheard someone say that they "just don't care anymore" and then stood by while their desperate apathy overpowers your otherwise caring heart?

Pull your left arm across your chest (one of our stretching exercises) while you think about QUESTION TWO.

How can I hurt my partner today?

I could stop paying attention.
I could focus on myself.
I could be careless.
I could neglect my duty.

I could ignore his pain.
I could do my own thing.
I could stop listening to her.

I could be rude.
I could be mean.
I could be unjust.

I could slander him.
I could accuse her.
I could abuse him.
I could hate her.

I could settle for enduring.
I could settle for waiting.
I could merely tolerate.

Even if we live alone, we do not live in isolation.  Someone depends on you.  Your kindness to a stranger, your encouragement to a close friend obviously weary and burdened, even your rebuke and your strong boundaries to those most intimate, are needed desperately by the people in your circle.  Ask Question Two this way: How can I help, and NOT hurt, my partner today?

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