As I write this note, I am flying 32,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, traveling toward North America at just under 600 mph with six hours to go before I arrive home (yup, my butt is flat!). Strangely, I’ll be in Europe twice this month … all to learn more about woodworking tools and machines. (Freud cutting tools and Festool machines to be specific.) And while I was supposed to be learning about woodworking stuff, another lesson came in under the radar: the kindness and generosity of humankind.
The essence of this lesson was best expressed by an elderly Italian gentleman sitting next to me on the bus from the airport to (I hoped) the train station. He had obviously worked a full day and was tired. I too was tired and strung-out from an overnight flight … and maybe just a little lost.
What I had expected to be a short bus ride was stretching out to about 20 minutes and I was beginning to wonder if I’d missed the stop or perhaps gotten on the wrong bus. “Mi scuzzi … train station? ” I queried, using two of the twelve words of Italian that I knew (the other 10 are all food related). He looked at me, raised an eyebrow and touched my arm with a large work hardened finger. Then he touched his chest. He said something I didn’t even faintly understand, but I knew he meant he was going to help me out. And suddenly, I was at ease. A few thousand miles from home on an overcrowded rush hour bus and all was well.
For me, it was comforting lesson in a troubling time.
– Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal