Joshua Mitchel's kindness made this survey special.
Several months ago while surveying near Pearcy, Ark., I experienced an event that really made me refocus on the meaning of life.

I had an appointment with my client one morning at a jobsite. We went over some deeds he had and a new property division line that we were to create. My field crew was there on time, and everything was going smoothly. Then this big gray Tom cat (in good condition, evidently well cared for) came out of the woods and asked to be petted. I’m a pretty soft heart for animals, so I obliged him.

Well, pretty soon we were through discussing the boundaries and went to work. I have a four-wheeler that I use on the job and drove around as normal. On one of my many trips around the site (moving equipment, searching for monuments, etc.), I happened to drive past the truck several times, each time running over a large Ziplock bag. I don’t like litter, but it seemed like too much of an annoyance to stop and pick it up, so I ignored the bag and kept on working.

Well, lunchtime came around, and I left the crew with their van and lunches at a remote site on the job and drove the four-wheeler back to the truck to do some computing and to eat. Only to discover that my lunch was GONE. No trace. Just plain old missing. Nada.

Suddenly I remembered the Ziplock bag and the cat—and after applying some minor calculations—concluded that the cat had taken my stroking his fur as tacit approval to help himself to the lunch my wife had so graciously packed for me! Well, being a land surveyor, I usually keep a backup plan for everything, and this was no exception. I got the canned sardines out of the toolbox and made do with what I had.

After finishing lunch and the computing, I again re-mounted the four-wheeler and prepared to return to work when I noticed a 5-year-old boy across the small fenced yard nearby. Being the kind of person I am, I tried to at least be friendly to him and said hello. No response. So I began telling him my story: “You know that big gray cat? Well, he ate my lunch! Yes, really no kidding. He got into my truck, and ATE MY LUNCH! Yup, it is a true story!” Still no response, so I told the shy boy to have a nice day and went back to work.

Later in the day I returned to the truck to get my metal detector and noticed a sack on the cross-box toolbox of my truck. Inside was this note: “We are very sorry about your lunch. Please accept these roast beef and cheese sandwiches as our apology.” There were two well-made, wrapped-in-tinfoil roast beef and cheese sandwiches inside.

I was very touched and so before I could eat them, I went to the mobile home inside the yard and knocked on the door. A discrete lady (the boy’s mom, Marsha Mitchel) answered the door. I asked about the sandwiches, and she told me that her son Joshua, who in reality is almost 6 years old, had come inside and told her, “Our cat ate that man’s lunch.” He was upset and pressed upon his mom to feed me!

Anyway, I thanked them profusely and went back to work. I gave one sandwich to the crew and ate the other. I did not make a lot of money on that survey, but I will never forget the kind boy’s act of generosity and perseverance to repair his cat’s damages.

I keep the note on my wall and read it when I feel discouraged or burned out on life or surveying. Yes, there will be a tomorrow because people like Joshua and his mom will keep it going like it is supposed to be. Knowing that these kind of people are in this world makes life a joy.

Do you have a story you would like to share with other _surveyors? Write it down and send it to POB.