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
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
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"
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?