“…well, who are you…”
He is the quintessential working stiff.
Age 34, married 11 years to his high school sweetheart, 3 kids, 2 girls and a boy, been welding since he was 18, “I took a job as a welder’s helper on the pipeline, loved it but didn’t like being away from home.”
Now, back home, probably the best welder in town, “It ain’t, ‘Can you wield this?’ You better ask me if I WILL weld it.”
A friend of mine in town, Jeff Martin, who knows Bart told me, “If he can’t weld it, it can’t be welded period.”
Bart taught welding for a few years in a local technical college and now considers himself a specialist in something called, TIG welding, “It’s the hardest to do – small tedious. Out in my garage after work I do TIG on surgical instruments; it takes a long time and you have to be real precise.”
Bart tells me all this, looking dead center into my eyes. Then I ask this, “So you ready for the tournament,” and he immediately loses the steel composure of a welder.
“db, I’m as nervous as a cat.”
And he smiles the smile of a large person in a tiny life raft.
“Ain’t never done anything like this before. I wanna do good but I’m so nervous you would think I was having brain surgery.”
Actually, I have had brain surgery, and I wasn’t as nervous as Bart is right now.
“I’m never nervous welding; in fact I’m at peace once I put that hood down, very peaceful inside there, but this, this…”
Bart’s legs are dancing as he sits; his eyes are moving all over the place. I’m thinking maybe the dude just needs to fish with the welder’s hood on.
“I fish this lake all the time but this is my first REAL tournament, you know what I mean…”
I do. As Bart looks around, there sits Bassmaster Classic winner Chris Lane, next to him Elite angler Gerald Swindle and Britt Myers with Casey Ashley….none of whom are very nervous fishing this tournament.
“…I mean, this is my home water, I just want to learn new skills from the best of the best. I want to do well but I really look at this as a learning experience.”
“You going to be able sleep tonight, dude?”