I was encouraged recently by news that researchers had found a 700,000-year-old tool in England earlier this year. Seems like Flint-man put down his sharp rock somewhere only to lose it during the Ice Age.
I know how he feels, but I have hope: If researchers can find his sharpened flint lost that long ago, surely somebody can help me find my Speed Square after only 10 years. It fell out of my pouch and dropped point-down from the top of a 40-foot ladder into a snow bank–never to be seen again.
If it had happened during the summer I would have caught that thing before it fell 6 inches, but the Ice Age that comes to Vermont every year turns carpenters into bundled, frozen robots with slow reflexes. And though I might have had a chance to find my tool, I wasn't about to crawl into the frozen hole I thought it had slid into. So, like our ancient friend Flint-man, I succumbed to nature and went off in search of a new rock.
I've been losing tools all my life. Most of the time they disappear by accident, but sometimes I have had help. And sometimes it would have just been better if they'd never shown up again. Like when one of my carpenters returned a tape measure I had loaned him after six months, 1-1/4 inches short with two rivets nicely placed at the 6-inch mark. That, as it turned out, explained a lot about his work. He actually expected me to be impressed that he had fixed it and returned it, but I let him keep it as a going-away present.
Then there were my chisels–my pride and joy. Every day during trim-out I would unroll my cloth sack and lovingly lay out the eight shiny, sharp shaving instruments. If I saw an edge blemish I would oil up my stone and remove it. Everyone around me knew these were sacred tools. Everyone, that is, except one of my subs, who "borrowed" my favorite chisel and then slipped it back into its sheath after having used it to pry the tops off of about a zillion paint cans. That was a bad moment.
Which leads me to think that perhaps Flint-man didn't lose his tool at all. Anybody who went to all the trouble he must have to find the right rock and painstakingly sharpen it to work on ... well, whatever you work on with a sharp stone ... wouldn't be so careless. No, I think some rookie caveman "borrowed" it to chip bone or carve his initials on some tusk, set it down on another rock, and couldn't find it again.
So, on some distant day when the snow has melted from the Green Mountains for good, a team of young archeologists will uncover my Speed Square and start to piece together a picture of Speed-man, subspecies of Pro-carpenter. They'll marvel at the genius of this ancient tool, with mysterious markings along its angled edge. They'll wonder at its use, picturing the wooly carpenter who left behind a piece of the puzzle–like a sharpened flint–that will help mankind uncover its past. And when they do, they're in for a surprise. Because not only will they discover the ingenuity of Man at Work, but there on the back side, engraved into the aluminum, I left a forwarding address.