The Tradie

The  Tradie


Darwin can be a hot stifling place in both the Dry and Wet season. The temperature remains about the same (33c) all year round. Although I’ve never been there during the rainy season, I have been told by those that have, that the whole region can be unbearable. The humidity is intolerable and claustrophobic and people over 50 are advised to remain in air-conditioning as much as possible if not all the time. The Dry season is much more comfortable. It’s still the same temperature with beautiful clear blue skies and no humidity. There is the occasional cloudy day with its grey patches and humidity. But considering that during the dry season, between April and November, it doesn’t rain at all then the odd cloudy day is tolerable.

It was on one such hot and dry day in August last year when Joe Nicholls, cafe manager at the Tumbling Waters Holiday Park had just finished the morning coffee shift. The sun was overhead and shinning directly over the courtyard seating area. There was no shade. Armed with a cold drink and a well-worn book he escaped to the cool internet shack to enjoy his break.  He had to be back at four to supervise the evening food preparation, but that gave him plenty of time. He switched on the fans so that there was a good circulation of air. Warm as it was, it was more comfortable with the air circulating,  but nothing happened. The fans did not respond. Darren, the carpenter/handyman was just putting the microwave back in place. A thick, stocky man who looked to be in his 50’s  and carried himself at just over 187cm and about 100kilos, had been doing some work on the shack for the last few days. He still had his tool bag on so he hadn’t knocked off for the day.

“Do we have power on?”

“No, Mate, the electrician switched it off when we found some off those white tailed rats in the roof and they’d chewed away a lot of the wiring and made this here shed, being timber, a fire trap. I’ll go see’ve I can find him if you like and see how long its going to be before its fixed.”

Darren was back in about a half an hour, Territory time.

Joe was already well settled into his book

Darrin took off his utility belt and sat down in the chair opposite. It was not as comfortable as the one Joe sat in. It was more of a kitchen/dinning style chair; more upright and not so padded.

“How did you go?” asked Joe as he looked-up from his book.

“He’ll be back Thursday, but it’ll probably take all day, so safe to say Friday sometime.”

Joe nodded.

“What are you reading Joe?”

“A bit high-brow for you, Darren. I’m reading a book of philosophy by one of the greatest Sages of all time.”

“And is this great Sage still alive?”

“He is long dead.” Replied Joe with a condescending smile. The smile of a superior humouring an underling.

“Then Mr Nichols what you are reading is nothing but a dead man’s words and has little relevance to today’s living. It is merely a residue of yesterday left over from another time.”

“You’ve got a nerve; you a common tradesman with no classical education. If you can explain this, fine, if you cannot for your arrogance you can go out and find another job.”

Joe was annoyed; what was to him, a lowly tradie telling him the value of his reading material.

The carpenter replied. “I do not have a classical education that is true, so I can only look at things from the prospective of my own life and the working terms of tradition from the past. When I work on a piece of furniture if I hit the joint too softly, pleasant as this feels, it does not make for a good joint. If I hit it too hard the wood will split or bow and my furniture will be out of shape and the thing doesn’t work. So not too soft nor to vigorously I grasp my hammer in my hand and hold it in my heart. I cannot express this feeling in words without giving a false impression, I just know it. I cannot teach this to my son nor can my son learn it from me. So for all my life, I have gone along this path and here I am still making beautiful furniture and repairing things that will last my lifetime. This ancient writer, when he died, left his words as a testament to his time but these words are no longer evolving and living. As man develops so must his ability to discover and develop the ideas of the past by knowing what goes on around him. Which is why I can state that what you are reading are stilled and stagnant words left over from this ancient one waiting for someone else to improve upon it’s worth.

This uncomplicated tradesman with his simple way of looking at things was able to experience much more about a contemporary universe, that compounds from one thing to another, yet acquiring no knowledge that he has not earned.

“How could you know these things?”

“By being 70 years old.”

John Audet

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