The fitter struck the end of the coupling with the sledgehammer five or six times, forcing it further onto the shaft. Smoke came from the coupling: it had been heated to help it fit onto the shaft. The apprentice leaned forward with his measuring tape, then shook his head and said something. He moved back as the fitter started into the coupling again. Like a machine, they worked as one: hitting, measuring, moving.
Why, I wondered, had the fitter chosen the hammer instead of the tape? Perhaps he didn't trust the young man with the forceful delicateness of the task, or maybe he was venting the frustrations of working a week-long shift away from his wife and children. As I walked on, I understood the fitter's wisdom. An apprentice must learn to measure more than he must learn to strike.