There are two reasons I asked my friend, Jack, about the ring on his pinky finger. It’s not made of a material rings are usually made from and, quite honestly, Jack isn’t really a pinky finger ring kind of guy. In my mind, pinky finger ring guys probably play croquet and have a brandy by the fire in their ascots. And they most likely lift their fingers as they sip. Jack would rather be blazing trails through the woods on a four-wheeler and I’m quite sure he doesn’t own a single ascot.
As he explained the ring, I understood how important it is to him. There’s a long-standing tradition in Canadian engineering schools, the Iron Ring Ceremony. Each graduate is presented with a very significant ring. First, the ring indicates completion of the extremely challenging engineering degree. Second, it’s to be worn on the little finger of the writing hand and as the engineer works the clicking sound from the ring hitting the worktable is a reminder of this responsibility.
The ring is also a cue to maintain high moral, ethical, and professional standards with attention to detail. The majority of structures, he went on to say, collapse not because of defects in the large expanses of metal, but because of a bolt or a screw … the little things. The ring is a constant call to awareness.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a pinky finger ring reminder of some kind? Not just buildings and bridges crumble because of small mistakes and lack of consideration. How much better would all of our relationships be if we were kinder, more patient, and less testy? …the little things. If we paid attention to the little things then, just maybe, the big things wouldn’t break so easily.