One day, when the Charles Krager family was living on the Johnny Husser place between Princeton and Malden IL, Dad was picking corn with a two row picker mounted on an “M” model International tractor. The unit had broken down in the middle of the field and I noticed that Dad was crawling around the unit to see what was wrong. I was old enough to know that any interruption to harvest was a big deal. Being only 5 years of age at the time, I knew that I probably couldn't help fix it, but I was curious. So I struggled through the rows of stubble until I got to where he was. By that time he had the tool box on the ground and had pulled himself under the picker, trying to remove the broken part. I watched intently as he struggled to pull himself out from the tiny space just to get a wrench of a different size and struggle to pull himself back under the picker. This was of course done with a great deal of blue smoke cursing that should be heard only in a remote cornfield. A fire hazard, really. I peered under the unit from all angles until I found a place where I could see what he was doing. It wasn't long before it became clear that he had the wrong sized socket again, so I scurried to the tool box, found what I thought was the right one, and was ready to hand it to him when he came out. When his hand came to the edge of the picker to pull himself out, I placed the socket in his hand just before it clamped shut on the edge of the picker. Given the mood and my insecurity about the correctness of my guess, I was preparing to run as fast as I could through the thick stubble that was higher than I could lift my legs. When the hand disappeared and encouraging sounds emerged, I returned to my vantage point just in time to see a need for still another wrench. Again I placed my best guess in his hand and returned to my vantage point to witness success. This process was repeated again and again until the tool box was almost empty and the broken part emerged followed by a pile of tools and a very muddy and grimy dad. As he sat quietly leaning against the machine, he wiped his greasy face and bloody hands with the ever present red hanky. As he returned the dirty rag to its rightful place in his rear pocket, he uttered a phrase that forever changed my life. “Danny, you're just handier than a shirt pocket.” I will never forget the euphoria that came over me. He never knew, and I little realized at the time that this single remark would be vividly burned into my memory and eventually directly affect what I would become.
As I look back with the wisdom of hindsight, I realize that every job I have ever had was a service job; a job that served the needs or wants of other people. My woodworking experience has been especially rewarding because it satisfies my creativity while it produces something that others want. I do things for people because somehow I notice that they want it. Money doesn't matter so much. It's the thank you, the appreciation of a job well done that is important to me. I am a perfectionist so there can be no reason not to express appreciation. And I'm a good guesser.