Imagine it’s the 1950s, and a young man only about 19 or 20 is just starting out in the very difficult and looked down upon field of mechanic work. It’s a passion of his, and he sees a small chance to do something he loves and get paid for it.
He’s making $0.50/hr but needs tools.. he saves his money for weeks on end but can only buy one or two wrenches at a time. The week before, it took him 2 hours to pull the engine out of Mrs. Smith’s car on a hot July day. While pulling it out, one of the wrenches he borrowed from a coworker slipped and caused him to bust his knuckles open on the side of the engine causing blood to soak his already sweat and grease covered hands… so when he pays for that wrench that cost him $1.00 from Montgomery Ward, he literally paid for it with his own time, blood and sweat… and he stamps the first letter of his name on it to mark it as his…
And he uses it every day for the rest of his career.
With that wrench and others he buys over time he pays for his first car that needed some work… but he owns it. He pays for the house that he carries his new bride across the threshold a few months later, and in a few short years, starts setting money back in a college savings account for the new baby that is due in 2 months.
Fast forward 50 years…
His kids are all grown, went to college so they didnt have to be grease monkeys like their old man, had kids of their own and now their kids are grown and just starting their own lives. He passes away from cancer (probably caused by his exposure to all sorts of carcinogens as a mechanic in his 50 years of wrenching) having lived a long life. His kids find all his old tools in the old musty garage and decide after no family members want them, that they might get a few bucks off the tool box at the pawn shop. They load everything up in the truck and take it in and get $100 for the toolchest full of tools. It’ll pay for their gas this week, and they’re thankful that even now deceased, dad is still finding a way to help out in a small way.
The pawn shop cleans out the chest, cleans it up a little and lists it for sale. They sort through the box of tools they just pulled out and don’t see much value, but they might make a few bucks on em at a dollar apiece. So into the dollar bin they go. The wrench comes full circle here, starting out at a dollar, making hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, and being back at a dollar in a bin somewhere…
Only to be rediscovered by a young mechanic who is just starting out himself, and always looking for tools to help him in his trade. He rummages through the box and finds that old 3/4″ box end wrench once bought with another young man’s blood, sweat, and tears. Its almost like the young man can read the story in that wrench with every dent, ding, scratch, and rust pit in it. He sees the letter “H” stamped on the head of it, and wonders if it stood for Harry, or maybe Henry.
It made someone a living once, and very possibly worked upon many hundreds of classic cars that this young gearhead could only dream of touching. For $1, it’s worth the story, and will once again be making money for a young man just starting out in life.
That’s what I see when I find an old wrench in a bin.