Years ago I was doing some work on a boat at a marina. The marina’s owner was a gnarly old Norwegian (full disclosure – I am a first generation son of a Norwegian) who always had a traditional old school cold Norwegian lunch each day, just as my own father did. This usually consisted of a few bites of cheese and bread and perhaps some leftover meat, and fish, especially the smoked kind, or something in the herring line like sardines.
For some reason this guy – who was also a friend – needed a cutting board and he asked if I had a piece of ‘scrap wood’ he could use to slice his cheese on. I was in a hurry back at the shop later and I grabbed an end cut of teak about the right size and made a few quick cuts on the band saw. I figured he could modify it and finish it anyway he liked, but when I handed it to him the next time I stopped by, he made a snarky statement along the lines of, ‘and, you call yourself a woodworker?’ I knew the comment was made in jest, but it smarted just the same. Heck, I had just handed him a piece of teak worth several bucks, hadn’t I?
This was the motivation needed to prompt my own snark in return – in jest too of course. Back at the shop I very carefully laid out and cut a very nice piece of teak, coved the edges, sanded it, and in all respects spent enough time to make a nice cutting board – to my own special pattern. Stopping by his office, which was in the back of the building behind a little kitchen, I quietly left the new board on the kitchen counter, swapping it out for the earlier one. The next time I saw the old curmudgeon he was laughing his head off. I knew I had nailed him good. This is a sketch of my pattern for his new board:
There is a sequel to this little tale too. This particular marina had a small ship’s store managed by a nice and friendly little gal in her mid-thirties, a single mom. A couple day’s after I left the new board she button-holed me and asked if I would make one for her – as a gift for someone. She offered to pay for it but I told her no need – she had gone out of her way to help me with various things over time and I was happy to accommodate her. Another cutting board was made to the same pattern and duly presented to her. I asked at the time who she meant to give it to, and she said it was for her dad’s birthday, and he was a local tug boat skipper I knew casually.
Some time passed before I saw her again. She was all a-gush with how much her dad loved the new cutting board. I asked, “Well, I guess he’s got in the galley aboard the tug then?”
“Oh no,” she said. “He’s got in the wheelhouse. He’s nailed it to a broom handle. He uses it by sticking it out of the wheelhouse to signal to all those yachties who don’t know the rules of the road and keep blowing their horns at him when he’s the one who actually has the right of way!”
Darn! Had I known that ahead of time, I would have made him one out of plywood instead of one from a five dollar piece of teak!
-- "Never let your dogma get run over by your karma!"