The Six/Ten Rule

The rain fell all day.

The music store where I spend my working hours has a tin roof, ideal for announcing the celestial downpour.  It was a soothing sound, beginning with the first thump, thump, thump of the individual drops as they raced each other to see which could reach the ground first.

Soon, the whole building was filled with the gentle thundering, as of a waterfall, the individual raindrops melding into a downpour that flowed down onto the parched ground around the building.

I love the sound of rain on the roof.  Often, I’m tempted to lock the doors and go out to sit under the porch roof of the house next door.  It would be refreshing to enjoy the beauty of God’s re-creation from that vantage point.  But today, because I knew what was to come, I stayed put and waited.

Immediately after the steady cascade from the sky tumbled down in earnest, a cascade of another ilk began.  The second influx was that of folks who had nothing else to do, since the rain was falling.

First, came a flatbed truck with a sign on its door that announced the arrival of a lawn service crew.  Anyone knows you can’t mow the grass in the rain.  Besides, a little down time today wouldn’t matter, since the rain guaranteed more yard work in the weeks to come.

Next, the little red pickup with a headache rack over the bed, laden with ladders, arrived.  My old friend, the window washer wasn’t nearly as pleased as the lawn guys, but he wasn’t all that unhappy to take the break either.  He too, will find there is more work to do after the storm moves out.  Somehow, water blown onto the panes doesn’t leave clean glass behind.  He shrugged his shoulders and grinned as he greeted me.

With the hubbub of instruments on which the time-killers had begun to play, it was harder to hear the stress-relieving drum of rain on the roof, but I knew I would sell a few accessories at least, so I welcomed the latest arrival with a grin of my own.

More laborers made their way in and then out again before the dentist and his wife arrived.  I looked at them with a question mark in my eyes.

The man laughed and said, “We needed to get out of the rain and this seemed as good a place as any.”

I looked around.  “These guys all work in the elements.  Are you doing dentistry in the great outdoors now?”

As it turned out, it was his day off.  He and his wife had planned to spend the day outside, but the rain spoiled their plans.  I was happy to provide an alternative to being stuck in their house.  Besides, the last time they visited, I sold them a nice instrument.  Perhaps, we could plant a seed for their next purchase.

We talked  as they killed the next half hour.  As we gabbed about the rain and the plethora of displaced workers who made their way through my doors while the couple watched, a memory from long ago bubbled into my conciousness.

As I was working with my friend the electrician at the construction site of the new school (now one of the older schools in our little town), a few raindrops fell from the sky.

Our job on that day was to stub up conduit from underground into the void of the cinder blocks which the brick-layers were setting in place.  At the right time, the square boxes which would house the electrical outlets also had to be attached to the conduit.

The walls of the school were growing by the moment as an army of the masons slung the mortar onto the run of blocks already in place.  The two of us worked hard to keep pace and make sure that each outlet was placed correctly.  It wouldn’t do to have any of them inside the wall.

We felt the raindrops.  Looking up, we were pretty sure that the light shower would pass quickly, so we kept working.

Not so with the brick-layers and their helpers.  As the few drops became a sprinkle, they shook their heads and stopped work.  Within moments, the job site was deserted, except for two lonely electricians.

I looked at my boss.  He wagged his head in disgust.

“Six/ten rule,” was all he said.

“What in the world is that?” I queried.

“They draw a circle ten feet in diameter and when six rain drops fall in that circle, they’re done for the day.”

He was being sarcastic, but it seemed as if our workday was certainly going to be spoiled by what we saw as merely a slight inconvenience.  We would have worked on.

They had other considerations.  Mortar is mixed in a pretty strict ratio of cement, lime, and water.  If the mix is too wet, the walls will fail prematurely.  When that happens, the masonry company’s profits will be lost as they have to redo work which never should have been completed in the rain to start with.

Soon, we too packed up our tools and headed for the shop.  The six/ten rule had ended our day’s labor as well.

“Six/ten rule,” I said to the dentist and his wife today.  They looked at me in confusion, much as I had at my boss that day in the rain.

We watched the lawn workers and window washer leave to go home for the day, and we all laughed as I offered the explanation for my remark.

I’m wondering though.  Mr. Shakespeare said that discretion was the better part of valor.

But, what of the work which must be done?

Not all of us are masons, building walls from concrete and mud.  Some of us are soldiers, standing watch through the dark of night.  Some of us are fire fighters, battling blazes and rescuing helpless creatures from certain death.  Some are linemen, keeping electrical current running to hospitals and water treatment plants.

If we let a little rain discourage us, many others will suffer.  Some will be lost.

Isn’t it just possible that the mythical six/ten rule, while more convenient, may simply be an excuse for laziness?

I’m wondering if a little bit of rain doesn’t too often dissuade all of us from pursuing the goal set before us.  What of perseverance?  What of endurance?

I like to be warm.  And, I hate wet clothes.

I do know enough to come in out of the rain.

It’s just that, sometimes

Sometimes, the job in front of us requires that we forego personal comfort and push ahead.  There are times when we can only reach safety and warmth through the rain and darkness.

And then, there are the times when we need to come in out of the rain and try another day.

I’m still working out the correct formula, but I know that circle won’t be much help.  The six/ten rule doesn’t apply.

Perhaps wisdom will come from somewhere or Someone else.

It’s been known to happen.  I’ll ask Him again.

Wisdom to know the difference.

“The victorious man in the day of crisis is the man who has the serenity to accept what he cannot help and the courage to change what must be altered.”
(Reinhold Niebuhr ~ American theologian ~ 1892-1971)

“But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.”
(Matthew 24:13 ~ HCSB)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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