Monday, July 09, 2007


*Click for the bigger picture* Photo by Big Dad

It's hard to see, but if you look on the rock at the right of the picture you can see people sitting there. It gives the picture some perspective.

Living in China is always an adventure. We learned very quickly to be prepared for just about anything. This is particularly true when traveling. While we might have embarked on a trip to the land-o-plenty (LiJiang), planning on a 7 hour bus ride, it at times would turn into much more. Road blocks were plentiful, as well as landslides (our bus driver would speed up to get ahead of them!) and flat tires or transmission repairs were the norm. We tended to sit at the front of the bus, as you were less likely to get pecked by chickens, and the locals didn't travel well. Sometimes we would hand out dramamine, if we had enough on hand.

On one occasion I was making this trip, and we had a road block similar to the one pictured above. It's hard to tell from the picture, but we were up pretty high, and there are no guardrails to keep folks from driving off the road. Passing on these roads was always scary, and I think there were occasions in which our guardian angels were pinching drivers to keep them alert or holding up bus wheels as they ventured too far on the edge. On this particular trip, there was a large backhoe that was clearing the road of these large boulders and putting them on a flatbed truck. I had no camera, and could kick myself for not getting a picture of what followed.

The backhoe needed to turn around, so it hooked it's claw on a small man-made curb and backed to the edge of the road. It's back half hung precariously off of the cliff at a 45 degree angle, and at first I thought this was the norm for them. These road workers are able to do amazing things. That was not the case, however. I began to notice a frenzy of activity. People began running places, voices were raised, and I soon realized that this driver was in trouble. It dawned on me that the life of the man was reliant on this little curb, and taking into account the weight of the backhoe, I began to get nervous. I watched the driver closely, expecting him to jump at any time. He didn't. He sat firmly in his seat. He never even made an attempt to get out of the way. He was committed to the job. Never mind that a drop of a few thousand feet was a possibility.

Eventually, the flatbed truck pulled under the backhoe, it used that little curb to pull itself up, and disaster was averted. As soon as the backhoe was safely on the road, it continued with the job at hand, and soon we were on our way.

My thought is this: There are so many people in the world who work and are committed to doing a good job. They don't seek the spotlight, nor do they feel comfortable in that position. They just want to do a job and do it well. They are committed for that reason. They are in all types of jobs and classes. They are people of character, and can be counted on to see through whatever is asked of them. In contrast, many times there are those who are visible, who get a lot of credit, but are not willing to work for it. They take credit for other's work, and for whatever reason seek the praise for the work of others. They enjoy the spotlight, but don't enjoy the character that the behind the scenes person possesses: the follow through, the commitment, the attitude of "I said I would do it. I will see it through". They too are in all types of jobs and classes.

I always wonder if the latter person would do their work if there was no recognition. I think that would be a true test to their motives. As for this man, his motives, his character and his commitment were clear. I have no idea if he sat by the fire that night and discussed the day's events. I have the feeling that it was forgotten the next day, and became just another story in the life of a road worker. All I know is we were quickly on our way, because this worker did his job. It amazes me still to this day. Sometimes the world puts us to shame.


Craver Vii said...

Okay. I have something trivial on my mind, but I gotta say it. It's about this picture. It looked like a place I had been to before. But then I realized that I had not been there at all.

My kids have a Lord of the Rings Sword game that plugs into the television. You swing a plastic sword, and it registers on the screen. Anyway, there's a scene where a bunch of rocks fall, and it looks just like your picture (minus the tiny people in the background.)

Yeah, no points for profundity, but there! I said it and it's finally off my back.

Lifelong Learner said...

I'm glad you feel better Craver.

I know how you feel, though. There are times I see pictures and I think I know exactly where that is, and usually it's some mountain in South America instead.

There is no way to get in a picture what it's like standing in these mountains. (Except maybe in a Lord of the Rings video game!) You literally look down, down, down to see the ground, and up, up, up to see the top of the mountain. As far as the eye can see. It's some of the most beautiful country I've ever seen. Minus falling rocks and boulders.

23 degrees said...

Stacy, quite a story...and good thoughts here on commitment, character and motives.

Was it Madeline L'Engle who said that real virtue doesn't draw attention to itself?

Lifelong Learner said...

I don't know (although I like her novels very much!) but I've been listening to the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, and it was talking about this very thing! I like when I'm following a train of thought, and then I read something that is along those same lines. It's almost like there's a connection there or something.