Extract from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

The welder is in, an old man in his sixties or seventies, and he looks at me

disdainfully...a complete reversal from the waitress. I explain about the chain

guard and after a while he says, ``I'm not taking it off for you. You'll have to

take it off.''

I do this and show it to him, and he says, ``It's full of grease.''

I find a stick out in back under the spreading chestnut tree and scrape all the

grease into a trash barrel. From a distance he says, ``There's some solvent in

that pan over there.'' I see the flat pan and get out the remaining grease with

some leaves and the solvent.

When I show it to him he nods and slowly goes over and sets the regulators

for his gas torch. Then he looks at the tip and selects another one.

Absolutely no hurry. He picks up a steel filler rod and I wonder if he's

actually going to try to weld that thin metal. Sheet metal I don't weld. I braze

it with a brass rod. When I try to weld it I punch holes in it and then have to

patch them up with huge blobs of filler rod. ``Aren't you going to braze it?''

I ask.

``No,'' he says. Talkative fellow.

He sparks the torch, and sets a tiny little blue flame and then, it's hard to

describe, actually dances the torch and the rod in separate little rhythms over

the thin sheet metal, the whole spot a uniform luminous orange-yellow,

dropping the torch and filler rod down at the exact right moment and then

removing them. No holes. You can hardly see the weld. ``That's beautiful,'' I


``One dollar,'' he says, without smiling. Then I catch a funny quizzical look

within his glance. Does he wonder if he's overcharged? No, something else -

- lonely, same as the waitress. Probably he thinks I'm bullshitting him. Who

appreciates work like this anymore?

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