I sat down to lunch last Friday at a
table composed of contractors, equipment dealers, and representatives of our
hosts, Volvo, and its Construction Equipment and Truck divisions, and not
unexpectedly most of the conversations fluttered around the economy, what its
impacts have been and are, and mostly what the future might hold in
After the meal was finished and
people went off in their several directions, I reviewed what I had heard and
realized that, for all the discussion, we were no closer to understanding where
we stood or what new challenges and opportunities awaited us tomorrow, next
week, or a year from now.
Have we bottomed out? Uh, well, I
sure hope so.
When will we show real signs of a
turnaround? Hopefully by late this year, but more likely sometime in 2010.
The long and short of the exercise
came down to good food, nice company, and not a clue as to where we
Later than afternoon I was standing
next to a couple of contractors—one from Vermont and the other from
Alabama—while the Green Mountain guy reminisced as to the amount of fun he used
to have. His companion nodded in agreement, but then said something that made
more sense to me than anything we had heard all day.
“Two months ago I was in the backyard
with my six-year-old son, worrying about business, saying nearly the same thing
to myself,” the Alabaman explained. “While I was standing there feeling sorry
for myself and wondering how my family and I were going to get by, I watched my
son dig a hole in the soft dirt with his toy shovel. After a bit he backed off
to inspect what he had done, then he filled it back in, stomped the dirt flat,
stepped back to inspect the job, and moved down several feet to dig another
For a while, all three of us gazed
off into the distance, lost in our own thoughts until the Alabaman in his soft
Southern voice put it all in perspective.
“Every day since then, I’ve fired up
a piece of equipment and moved some dirt from here to there and back again as a
reminder of who I am and what my life is really about.”
If it ain’t fun, go find something