Tribute to Bruce…..

This morning my Men’s Accountability group met at a local Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop instead of our normal location because we had a service project. As we are called and as the need arises, our group of Christian men break from our normal meeting to provide a service project that shows the love of Christ. These projects have varied from serving breakfast on several Emmaus walks to helping single ladies with a need move. Today was a move and the single lady was a staff member on my team.

Now moving is never fun. I tend to place it right next to paying taxes. It is something all of us does at one point or another but I have never heard of someone liking the task. After moving to Kentucky, I vowed never to move again. However, I do not know what God has in store for me and I have learned to “never say never”.

You might think that a boss helping an employee move is quite out of the ordinary. I have had bosses in the past that barely gave me the time of day. And I have had bosses who would give me the shirt off their back. In arranging to help my staff member out I was inspired by an act that a boss of mine did several years ago when we lived in California.

The year was late 2003 or early 2004. Our fixer up house in Thousand Oaks was on the back end of being “fixed”. I had redone every room (including scraping 70′s cottage cheese ceilings), renovated the kitchen and bathrooms, gutted and purged the garage, replaced the roof, installed new windows, and even enacted the “scorched earth” policy when I landscaped the front yard with new sod, plants, rose bushes and a camphor tree. I was on the home stretch working on the back and side yards. But these were probably my biggest challenges because a railroad tie retaining wall had collapsed after 20 years of rot (I guess there was reason I left the back and side yards for last). So my project was to build a new slumpstone retaining wall, wood fence, decorative concrete and patio cover. One note to mention — the only project from the list above that I contracted out was the roof. There is a reason there are no old roofers. That is one of the hardest jobs in construction.

So with the footer foundation dug out I had prepped everything — rebar, ties, suspension blocks, and measurements. It was the very first step of a very large project. And while I had done block and concrete work with my dad, there was still quite a bit of uncharted territory. And none of this happened overnight. It took several weeks and weekends of work just to get it to this stage.

My team and boss at work followed my progress. I would bring in before and after pictures or share stupid mistake stories that would make them laugh (ask me some time about when I half fell through the entryway ceiling). So with all this work and preparation, my boss Bruce, knew where I was in this project. So when I told him that I was all set for my concrete pour for the retaining wall footer, he surprised me when he asked what time the concrete truck would arrive. I told him that I was expecting them on Saturday at 7am. He said “Good. I’ll be there at 6:45″ and walked away.

His response surprised me and I had forgotten about his previous life. You see, he used to run a concrete construction company and he had more concrete and masonry experience in his big toe than I had in all my years of life. And, luckily for me, he was going to impart his experience and wisdom on my retaining wall project.

I’ll never forget that Saturday morning. He was right on time and we plotted and planned how the concrete would be poured for the best foundation. When the truck arrived, the driver hadn’t even gotten out and Bruce scampered up the truck, stuck his arm in the concrete behemouth, took a look at it, and yelled down at me to get the hose. He was a concrete afficianado and was adjusting the concrete mix to his perfection. The look on the driver’s face was priceless as he got out and saw Bruce up there with a hose squirting it Emeril-like into the mixer.

I just stood there in awe and thankfulness that my boss cared enough about me, not as an employee, but as a person, to sacrifice his Saturday morning and come over to share his experience and knowledge. The rest of the day was spent with Bruce downloading his skills, tricks and tips on concrete and masonry. We laid a “hot course” of slump stone and he showed me the intricacies to laying smooth and straight bricks and blocks. He even gave me one of his trowels — which I still have today in my garage. I have used it several times since and think of him fondly whenever I have concrete and masonry work at my property. You see, all of this is even more special because Bruce passed away in Feb 2008. His caring and concern went beyond that day but it was a good example of how he was as a boss.

So fast forward back to our move today and you can see the model I was following. I had heard of my employee’s needs earlier in the week regarding her move situation. She is single and has only been in Kentucky for a year so she doesn’t yet have that extensive network you leverage (or sucker into) when you move. So I told her that I had a truck and double axle trailer that we could use to assist in her move. And when I informed my Accountability group that I was going to miss that Saturday, they asked why, and when they found out the reason they also offered to assist. So one turned into four and we were not only about to get everything moved in one trip with multiple vehicles, we were also able to share the love of Jesus with her. She said that as we were all loaded up caravanning to the new place down the freeway, her eyes welled up with tears thinking about the people who really didn’t know her but were helping her move. We were able to get all the large items moved and carried into her new place way before lunch. All in all a successful service project. But again, I had two good examples — Jesus and my old boss Bruce.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net