First Day On The Job

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When I was eighteen years of age I walked onto my first construction site. I didn't know shit from shinola.
I'd had an interview with my new boss the Friday before. He told me that there were certain things that were required for this job. He would provide me with a cloth apron that was provided to him by the local lumber company. I had to buy a hammer and loop, a keel ( a yellow carpenter's crayon), a carpenter's pencil (didn't know that they were passed out by the same lumber yards that proffered the apron), a chalk line, a large and small nail set, a 25' tape measure, a scriber, a flat bar ( Wonder Bar), a cat's paw, and a combo square.
That was quite an investment for an impecunious eighteen year old.
The promise was that I would be indoctrinated into the secrets and mysteries of the trade.
Well, that was bullshit. I learned how to carry brick and block and how to dig a good straight trench. Wait a minute, maybe that was part of the indoctrination.
Anyways, I carried tools and dug ditches for a bit of time and then the lead carpenter got fired for being drunk too often and I got to use the tools that Mario made me buy.
I don't mean that I got to be the lead carpenter. I mean that I got to carry tools for the (provisional) lead carpenter. And, because he was a lazy fuck, I got to do more of the carpentry than I would have under a more sober teacher.
With his somewhat bilious encouragement, I progressed from a newb to a more or less decent apprentice.
Even got a raise.
Then I saw my first copy of Fine Woodworking.
tom watson
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I got a good chuckle out of that post. Another good one, Tom.
I think we must have started on adjoining sites. I worked construction in the summers in high school. At 16, I had never heard farts so loud that smelled so foul (I thought the old man was bad...) in my life. I remember that standing out. I was unfamiliar at the time with the term "beer fart".
I had a hammer, a cloth bag, a 25' Stanley tape, and for the most part could have left all of it in the truck. I carried more plywood, 2X4s and build up material than I thought would be needed for a small city.
When they thought I was dogging it, they made me sweep. Then they decided they didn't have to talk to me or have me in the way if I was sweeping, so that became part of my day as well. Since they decided I was too stupid to train, I swept so much I they bought me my own broom.
When I got out of high school, I went full time in construction. Sonovabitch if they didn't put me right back on the broom and mule work.
I had never seen full grown men drink until they quit speaking English. Everyone smoked like chimneys. Everyone was broke at the end of the week. Women got a good cussin' pretty often for causing a lot of grief, but the boys were pretty docile around their wives. My first boss would knock the living crap out of you if you "sassed" him.
If you wanted to go further, that old country boy would be glad to go behind the building with your anytime. Not advisable. Never saw him lose a fight.
Wow... how things have changed. About six months ago one of my guys - about 30 years old- came to me and told me I upset him because I called him some names in anger. I thought I was remarkably controlled. He was hurt. I cannot ever in my life imagine telling one of my fellow construction workers that he hurt my feelings because of something I called him.
Besides reaching the point of what was termed "trainable", I think what I learned that stayed with me was to take pride in my work. I worked with a couple of older fellas that were tremendously talented, and absolutely ingenious at their solutions in getting the job done with material on hand. I was glad to be their helpers when I was assigned to them.
Probably the most important thing I learned from them though had nothing to do with carpentry work. As much as my boss drank and as capricious as he was with his temper, he ALWAYS got the job finished, on budget and on time. He never, ever, made excuses. Not for him or for anyone that worked for him.
On the other hand, he was highly intolerant of them, too.
Not too much "fine wood working" for me in those days. It was a real treat when I got to go out on a really neat finish out project. My goals were simpler then, but hard to attain. Pay the rent and light, keep a little back for emergencies.
Boy were things simple, then. I didn't have much and didn't care. I remember that women were still fun (some say this is a trick that is played on the mind in middle age). I could still drink and then go to work the next day. I was in great shape as they worked me to death.
I didn't like those days much then, but they look pretty good now. Another middle aged mind game, maybe?
Robert
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wrote:

Yeah.... I guess it kinda sneaked up on me.
I knew things had changed when I wasn't looking and I noticed some of my employees referring to me and my similar vintage contracting associates as "the old dudes".
Sadly, they didn't even mean any disrespect.
Robert
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On Tuesday, I went over to a pub just outside the town I used to work in (about 25 miles away) and met with about a dozen of my old workmates, who are also now retired, and guess what we were doing :-)
Well, apart from drinking beer and eating lunch.
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
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bunch there for coffee in the morning... going over the paper together and bitching the morning away... it's election time. Oct 14 we go again...and the same old guys will greet me warmest greetings... stuff like: "hey! Fuckface!" or they yell at the waitress: "get that sorry shit some coffee before he falls over...".. they're all 20+ years older than I, but we're becoming friends...*S*.. and we all roll our eyes when one of the local pig/chicken farmers walks by... ahhhmoniaaaaah....
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shit some coffee before he falls over...".. they're all 20+ years older than I, but we're becoming friends...*S*.. and we all roll our
Yeah, but what they're *really* thinking is. "There's that dumb *S* Robatoy again. I'd toss him out on his ass, except that he calculates wrong once in awhile and I get a decent tip.
:)
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Naaaa, I often walk out without paying, but I always tip <G> btw, that's my shop..all the way to the right of the photo..in the back ground..*S* As you can see, not far to roll, I mean walk, after of few brewskis. http://www.famousbacon.com/default.asp?q=about
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That's the shop..that tiny box with that tractor/trailer parked in front... http://tinyurl.com/5yw2n6
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Robatoy wrote:

Interesting - how come John's web page says 'London Road' and Google shows both locations on 'London Line'? AFAICT, they aren't the same.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Could be that the last naming committee decided it should become a "Line" instead of a "Road".
50 years ago it was a "Road". I will even bet the "Plank Road" has a new name too.
P D Q

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That is very observant.... then again, I shouldn't be surprised. *S* London Road was replaced by Highway 402...errrmmm which was The Queen's Highway # 7. Then when the 911 Emergency allocations were introduced, they did the switch to London Line as it runs West to East as 'Lines' do. That's what I was told...and whathehellwhynot? Locally, the stretch I'm on is always referred to as The Golden Mile.... for real...*G*
Oh.. look at this... *proud look*
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Mile
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Seems to me that when that stretch of road gained its goldenness there was a plethora of new/used car lots on it. Is this still so??
P D Q

That is very observant.... then again, I shouldn't be surprised. *S* London Road was replaced by Highway 402...errrmmm which was The Queen's Highway # 7. Then when the 911 Emergency allocations were introduced, they did the switch to London Line as it runs West to East as 'Lines' do. That's what I was told...and whathehellwhynot? Locally, the stretch I'm on is always referred to as The Golden Mile.... for real...*G*
Oh.. look at this... *proud look*
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Mile
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no new or used car dealers anywhere near me. There is a classy speed shop, Bimmers and AMG Benzes and a few Porsches.. It's always fun to wander through the bays with a coffee in my hand and looking for a sorry soul who wants to have a go at an Audi...<G>
The 'Goldeness' was a bunch of new and high-end 'Motels'.
These days, they are enjoying a resurgence of updating and modernisation. The neglected ones have been bulldozed.
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Speaking of Audi, What about that R8? 200+ mph and superb handling too boot. Sure wish I could justify the 6 digit cost. P D Q

no new or used car dealers anywhere near me. There is a classy speed shop, Bimmers and AMG Benzes and a few Porsches.. It's always fun to wander through the bays with a coffee in my hand and looking for a sorry soul who wants to have a go at an Audi...<G>
The 'Goldeness' was a bunch of new and high-end 'Motels'.
These days, they are enjoying a resurgence of updating and modernisation. The neglected ones have been bulldozed.
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That's the shop..that tiny box with that tractor/trailer parked in front... http://tinyurl.com/5yw2n6
You got plenty parking space.
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wrote:

I sure do. The truckers like delivering to my place. It's just a loop behind the shop. I need something twice the size. I'm going to make new products. I also need a second CNC machine.
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Robatoy What products do you make ? Are you in England ?
Smitty
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Nice to know the company you keep.
I left your area 4 years before this eatery was established.
When I returned, on my way to PH, I used to stop at a late night watering hole on the 402 (before it became the 402) that we beer-chasers called Mother's.
It's gone now too.
P D Q

Naaaa, I often walk out without paying, but I always tip <G> btw, that's my shop..all the way to the right of the photo..in the back ground..*S* As you can see, not far to roll, I mean walk, after of few brewskis. http://www.famousbacon.com/default.asp?q=about
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Robatoy wrote:

I've been in that place for Sunday breakfast. John's, I mean. Not your shop. For some reason I figured your shop was out that way. Not sure why. Rob's depiction of the crowd and staff is pretty accurate from what I could tell, although Sunday breakfast has people lined up outside and almost down the road.
Nice, friendly place with good, simple food.
Tanus
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On Wed, 8 Oct 2008 23:50:13 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

If I may say so, I think that you are exactly right and that the core skill of a successfull tradesman is getting it done on time and on budget.
Everything else is secondary, including quality (which is why god invented callbacks) and people skills (which is why god invented wives).
t
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