I was in my garage rummaging through an old coffee can full of nuts, bolts, screws, washers and assorted items when the memory hit me.
I could only smile and chuckle as I thought of Jack Evans, a former co-worker. His title was “Facilities Coordinator,” but we knew him as – pardon the pun – a jack-of-all-trades. He mowed the grounds, hung the pictures, changed the lightbulbs, moved the boxes and did just about anything necessary to keep the operations going – and with a smile.
Evans came to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) after a successful career as a CEO in California. He was seeking a better life and moved back to Kansas to be with family and live a lifestyle that suited him. A multitalented individual, he farmed the land, cooked the best dishes, was a tremendous musician, could tell a joke with the best of them and was loaded with common sense. He called everyone a friend and was a friend to everyone.
One day Evans was talking with a group of us at work about one of his prized possessions – his “nut bucket.” I have to believe every golf course superintendent has a nut bucket that is filled with those items that might be needed down the road to help fix something or solve a problem. Evans was so animated in talking about his collection that we asked him to write a column in Golf Course Management about his nut bucket.
He did not disappoint. The column was vividly descriptive and humorous. So as I sifted through my coffee can looking for the perfect nut and bolt combination to fix my garden hose carrier, I couldn’t help but think of this man with the curly hair, gleaming eyes, bright smile and caring soul. The article was written more than a decade ago, so I searched the Internet to experience again all that is Jack Evans.
Surprisingly, the column had a different impact on me than it did many years ago – at least I didn’t remember perceiving the message the first time I read it as I did now. I still felt his humor, though. One of his best lines was: “There is often divine intervention as to whether some ugly piece of equipment should be fixed at all. I lean over my bucket and there is pleasure in the hunt, and in the find. If my time for a nut search expires and I haven’t uncovered what I desire, then God just doesn’t want this darn thing fixed.”
But I believe Evans used the nut bucket as the platform to share a deeper message. He called the bucket a “security blanket” and “his eternal project in development.” It became clear to me as I reread the column that Jack also had a nut bucket of life where he saved all of his positive relationships and experiences. Just like his physical nut bucket, whenever he or anyone else needed help, he could find just the perfect antidote to make things better.
In his column, Evans said he was driven to tears at the thought of losing his nut bucket when his wife considered putting it in a stack of items to be sold at a garage sale. I can only imagine the emptiness one would have if they didn’t have a nut bucket that not only allowed them to give support, but to also get it from others when times are tough.
When you see a friend or peer struggling, do you sift through your nut bucket to see how you can help? Do you volunteer to support those who are less fortunate?
Jack Evans did not advertise his past life as a successful businessman. But he never hesitated to share his happiness and contentment with his new life. He clearly experienced more joy in giving than receiving.
It’s a message we can all take to heart a little more often.