The 49 Ninjas

One day we were visited in the shop by a small purple ninja. The small purple ninja had heard that we were shooting some video in the shop, and he had always wanted to be in movies. Hoping to be discovered by a talent scout, the ninja climbed to the top of Anna’s tool holder behind her lathe, and performed his most complex kata while the camera captured the action in front of him. He was fascinated, though, by the spinning wood taking on a different shape and the curly shavings flying through the air. “Even if I don’t get discovered, this seems like a pretty cool place to hang out,” thought the ninja. And so he did.

Over the course of the next two months, the small purple ninja became the Natural Designs Woodturning unofficial mascot. Shortly after his arrival, Anna and John began renovating the shop. The old tool holder came down, and the ninja wandered about learning the different tools and equipment needed for woodturning. He seemed satisfied with his role as “Shop Guardian” and would sit on the combination sander and chat with John about MMA. Anna was worried that he might get a little lonely, and ultimately found him some mail-order friends. (It’s kind of like internet dating for people, but a little different.) “I think one unit of small ninjas should be sufficient. I reckon that will be a half dozen or a dozen at the most.”

About a week later a small box was delivered to the shop. In it were 48 small brightly colored ninjas. “Hmm. Well, I guess it’s good to have a lot of friends.” Anna shrugged and handed the box to John so he could make all the introductions while she went out to make a delivery. Now, something you should know about small brightly colored ninjas is that left to their own devices, they will find something to do. At first, they seemed well behaved, exploring the shop, visiting with the resident small purple ninja, stretching after their long trip. As John was leaving he noticed the slightly devious looks in some of those vinyl pairs of eyes. “Don’t get into trouble” he admonished, as he turned out the shop lights for the weekend. Seven ninjas snuck into the office as he left.

Anna’s first indication that something was amiss was when she opened the door and heard the menacing attack kiai of a blue ninja as it leapt from the top of the door frame and rappelled down ashort line until it was right about nose level. “Well that was unexpected,” she thought as she plucked the ninja from his rope and sent him scampering off. After sitting down at the computer, she discovered her mouse was missing. After tracking it back from the cord, she found it atop five ninjas who were valiantly trying to carry it off for reasons still unknown. They were also escorted back to the shop. Over the weekend Anna had the slightly uncomfortable feeling of being watched. Eventually she found yet another ninja patiently watching her every move in the office from his hiding spot under the monitor. “OK. This is approaching the point of the absurd,” she told the last of the escapees. He didn’t have a lot to say. (Gentle reader, we recognize that you may be saying that this is well beyond the point of the absurd. We will not disagree.)

On Monday morning, Anna and John gave the ninjas a more complete tour of the shop. Anna made a special point of demonstrating the sharpness of her skew chisel. “So sharp that it can slice right through an unruly ninja,” she added. “However, we’re glad you’re here, and recognize that some of your earlier stunts were an attempt to demonstrate your awesome ninja powers, so we have a proposal for you. We started off with one small purple ninja, and a whole bunch of things for him to oversee. 475 square feet of shop space is a lot for an inch-and-a-half ninja to handle.”

Forty-nine tiny heads nodded in silent agreement. “So, here’s what we would like to do. We would like for you to find a perch in the shop on or near a piece of equipment. That piece of equipment will be yours to guard, protect, and maintain. Some of you may need to double up, some of you may be chosen for special assignments, like traveling to remote locations like Wragg Square or Las Vegas. Each of you, no matter what your task, is important—so much so that your deeds will be immortalized in the blog of the Natural Designs Woodturning website. A different ninja and his or her accompanying tool or machine will be featured in each installment to give our readers a better understanding of how the magic happens here in the workshop.” With a new sense of purpose, the ninjas set about in search of the piece of equipment for which they were best suited.

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