The Many Lives and Times of Sam Saturday: Maker of Fine Objects

August 4, 2007

Sam lived in a house on 22nd Street, in a small one bedroom apartment on the first floor that contained his bed, in which he slept; his fridge, in which he stored his food; and his workbench, where he applied his talents.

He had been a soldier in the war – which war, it doesn’t really matter, save to say that he returned in a damaged mental state, unable to properly act as part of normal society. He had a fair pension from his service, and had inherited a substantial amount from his family, who were now all deceased. It would have been enough to live in a degree of comfort, but instead he stayed in his small room and changed the world.

Oh, he did not change it in any grand fashion, nor did he even do so in a way that most would well and truly notice. No, he changed it through a series of small and minute applications of his skill. Why he did so? There are many theories, but it is safe to say that he himself seemed to need no justification for his actions, so neither do we.

What Sam did is this – he would travel to a store and select some objects that seemed likely to be poorly manufactured. Clocks, mugs, watches and boxes, and all manner of myriad things. He took them back to his small room in the house on 22nd Street, and placed them on his workbench besides his tools and parts and measuring devices.

And then he would make them better.

Clocks and watches he would dismantle, and then place back together with pieces polished and replaced, rewired or regeared, turned from something with less than a year’s lifespan to an object that could weather the centuries without growing slow, or weak, or still.

He had a gift, though none can say whether it came from the blow he took to the head, the sights he saw in the war, or some other source entirely. He was adept at electronics and with mechanical things, crafting stoneware and pottery and fashioning beautiful contraptions of wood. And he took these talents and forged new ceramic mugs, reassembled breadboxes, and enhanced all manner of things.

Then he would seal them back up as smoothly as they had come, and return them to the store. The employees never minded, though they had grown used to seeing him constantly returning the merchandise – but it was always intact, and everyone knew he was a little touched in the head, and so they smiled, and accepted the returns, and sent them back to the shelves.

And along would come an ordinary customer, in search of a mug, or a glass, or a watch, and they would find themselves returning home with something more than expected. They would not typically notice, at least not for years – and if they wondered why their possession had weathered the years so well, they would simply attribute it to luck and fate.

Perhaps, some hundred times a hundred years from now, when the world is a very different – yet similar – place, those items left behind will remain, still as intact and exceptional as the day they were touched by Sam Saturday. Perhaps mankind will have noticed these fine objects, and tracked down their origin, and they will be regarded as prized antiques and works of art, and his name will be known as the greatest artist of his time.

Perhaps not. For Sam did not do what he did for fame nor fortune, but simply out of a desire to improve the world, even if in the smallest of ways. To sit in his small room, in the house on 22nd Street, and know that every day, someone’s day wasn’t marred by a shattered mug or broken watch.

For him, that was all he asked for – and as such, it must be enough for us as well.

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