I once worked the entire Christmas break for Bleigh, on a bridge job, and the temperature never got above 15 degrees. I lost 15 pounds. Cold work is a good way to diet!
One summer, I was sent out to a 3-story school building with a block layer, to re-do all the bathrooms on the third floor. There was a stack of blocks out front, about as big as a small house. He told me to move the blocks up to the third floor. There was no elevator, and I thought he was kidding me, but he wasn't. It took about five days, two at a time. While I was resting, I was hauling mortar up to him in two five gallon buckets. So now you know why I'm a broken down old man.
We were given the job of painting the inside of water tanks with epoxy. There was no venelation system, not even fans. By noon, I had tunnel vision, my head ached, and I couldn't paint a line, much less a straight one. Two guys went to the hospital that day. That was Friday, and I was sick all weekend. Bleigh had been good for our finances, I needed the money, but I decided it was not worth that much to us. I had my mind made up on Monday morning to ask for a different job, and if I couldn't get that, I would quit. I walked into the office, and the boss told me, before I could say a word, “The foreman says you couldn't paint a straight line Friday. I'm moving you to another job.” I didn't protest.
Three of us teachers were assigned the job one summer of remodeling the three bathrooms at Stowe Elementary. One of us, thankfully not me, was designated the foreman. Now, we were all raw novices, and this job involved lots of skills we didn't have. We had always had a REAL construction man foreman before. We just made the best of it.
When we got out our lunch pails one day, I remembered Barbara couldn't find anything but potted meat for my sandwich. Now that's nasty stuff. I asked Dan, my working buddy, if he would like to just, for a change, swap sandwiches, sight unseen. He said he didn't see why not. So we did. As soon as I got my hands on his, I started laughing so hard, he knew something was wrong, and he wouldn't touch a bite of mine.
Dan and I talked about a lot of things during lunch break. He was Catholic, and I asked him one day if they believed it was all right to drink whiskey. He said, “Sure, that's fine, as long as we didn't get so drunk that we do something really sinful, like using a birth control device.”
Dan and I were each carrying in a five gallon bucket of water for the mortar mix. We were kidding each other about throwing it on the other. In the doorway, I just emptied my bucket over his head, and I started running down the hallway, and he grabbed his bucket and started after me. Now, I didn't have a load, like he did, but I was handicapped by laughing so hard, he caught me on the stairs and returned the favor.
The summer was coming to a close, and the boss came over to inspect the job. When he looked at the first bathroom we did, he came totally unglued, and our pore' “Teacher foreman," caught it really good. Our leader explained, “Well, none of us knew how to do it, so we just sorta learned how on that one. But the others are better.” “So what am I supposed to do!? Just close that one off? Just tell them, that was our learning room!?” Fortunately, Bleigh is a big company, so they brought a ton of REAL craftsman out, and re-did that room in a couple of days. All's well that ends well.. But it got worse again when the boss asked for the building key, and our pore' ole' leader said, “Well, I just don't know what could have happened to it. It was right here, in my shirt pocket, when I started working this morning. I just don' know-” The boss just snorted and stomped off. The boss never again put us out there on our own, without a REAL foreman over us.
Quincy, Ill. Was across the Mississippi river, 25 miles away. We loaded the whole family up in Dad's old pickup after school, and headed over there to do some shopping. When we started back, it was getting dark, and I knew most of our tail lights were out. Coming down on a long stretch on the other side of town, I noticed a police car pull in behind me, a long way back. I made a quick left turn, driving the back streets, and a couple more short turns. I kept looking back to see if the police were following. Corey, about six, said in a panic, “Dad, are you running from a policeman!?” Barbara settled him down, while I continued weaving in and out of side streets. He never got behind us again, but his buddy was waiting for us on the way out of town.
I was driving to school one morning, and a dog ran out in front of me and just stopped. As I stopped, I felt a bump behind. Looking back, I saw a motorcycle lying in the road, with a couple of guys sprawled out on the road. Waiting for the police, he was nice, but made it clear to me that he thought I should pay for his damage. “Lets just wait, and talk to the police and insurance,” I said. Well, the police wrote it down as all rear end collisions are, his fault .I knew in my heart, though, I DID stop awfully quick. The insurance company said, “Don't you pay him a dime! You will be admitting guilt! I know you feel bad, but it's his fault.” So I let it slide. Three months or so later, after everything had settled down, I looked him up and paid half his damage “as a gift.”