I have two stories to choose from that happened this week. I have wondered on occasion why me? This was one of those weeks. I have come to believe God and I have similar senses of humor, because this stuff happens to me.
I know most of you read these stories to here about the new yarns and stuff that you can buy from Your Daily Fiber. We will get to that in a minute, but I need to tell a construction story.
My career in construction does not have many years left. It won’t be long; I will be forced to entertain myself with learning to knit and writing stories about knitters. Yes, I am crying. Yarn is just not funny.
I reached a milestone in my career this past week. Most people involved in construction celebrate career milestones; however, the milestones I’ve celebrated are somehow different than most. I can’t tell you the address of the 1000th house I’ve built. I can’t tell you when I crossed over $100 million dollar in projects I’ve managed. Those and milestones like them; I just didn’t keep track of. If you have been in construction for this many years you should have milestones like that.
I do have milestones that I’m proud of; and maybe some I’m not so proud of. Like the time in Louisiana, when a concrete contractor said to me, “If my check is not here Friday, I am coming back to shoot you!” That’s the kind of milestone I remember.
Of course, there was the time a contractor handed me a white envelope, also by the way in Louisiana.
Me: What’s this?
Murphy: It’s for you.
Me: There is cash in here.
Murphy: I know that.
Me: Why do I have this? Do I send it to the office?
Murphy: It’s yours.
I called my employer.
Me: Murphy handed me an envelope. What do I do with it?
Boss: I don’t need to know.
That’s a milestone!
There was the time, I watched my employer and a representative of a large petroleum/gasoline retailer agree on a contract with two nearly naked women sitting on their laps. That's a milestone that can't be duplicated.
My favorite milestone happened around the year 2000. I was part of the site managing team building a public school. I had the pleasure of meeting the most honest sub-contractor, maybe in the world.
At a pre-construction/safety meeting my sub-contractors and I were discussing the schedule, safety rules, etc. I was hosting the meeting and announced, “The school district will require random drug testing of all contractor's employees.” We continued our meeting for another hour. I asked, “Does anyone have questions?” In front of God and all the other contractors, the heating contractor asked, “Are you really going to do random drug testing? If you do, none of my employees will pass. If you test for alcohol, I won’t pass either.” I stood up walked cross the room to shake his hand. “You are the most honest man I have ever met.”
That’s a milestone.
A large portion of what I have done is finish jobs that were started by others. Kind of like a closer in a baseball game. I would come in and save the game or sink like a rock. I’ve done both.
This past week I was asked by my employer to close another job. I arrived at the project to have the current site manager show me what, where and why the project could use my help. I noticed two young men running a tractor trencher to bury electric conduit that will power site lighting. I did say young, didn’t I? One of the men (boys) appeared too young to be on the site. I asked the site manager, “Is that kid even thirteen years old?” He replied, “He tells me, he is eighteen.”
Ok, I’m not here to judge and I like the fact that a young fellow would take a job in construction, start at the bottom and learn a trade. HOWEVER, the closest this kid has been to a razor (which is not a requisite for construction) belonged to his dad. OK, maybe I did judge him.
During my tour of the project, the site manager and I observed some commotion around the trencher. Everyone was yelling and the young men were running away from the trencher.
The young men had trenched through a buried natural gas pipe. EVERYONE (including these young men) know that if yellow paint or yellow flags are in the ground a natural gas line is buried nearby. Be careful! These boys (as I will now call them) trenched right through the markings. Extremely flammable, natural gas was escaping everywhere.
For those of you that don’t know, there is literally millions of miles of bright yellow plastic pipe bringing natural gas to buildings, furnaces and water heaters, all over this country, especially the west. Good luck replacing that with wind and solar. Did I write that? Sorry.
Me: Turn off the tractor! Call 811! Call 911! Get back!
It seemed like a while, but eventually the fire department arrived. The gas had not ignited so the fire department had nothing to do. They assumed the responsibility of keeping everyone back. I had already moved everyone back, but I wasn't wearing a helmet and a big heavy coat so I was no longer in charge. Oh yeah, I didn't have three firetrucks and an SUV, either. Monner, stop that! Be nice!
It wasn’t long and a crew arrived from the energy company. Three men, one truck and one tractor. Another crew arrived, three men, one truck and one tractor. A supervisor arrived, one pickup.
Five of the six men watched while one man used one tractor to dig around the broken pipe. The supervisor asked who broke the pipe. (Someone needed to be responsible financially for breaking the pipe.)
Two and a half hours later, the energy crew(s) finished fixing the pipe and left the site. The fire department was long gone. The two boys assured the site manager and me, that they understood the yellow markers and what would happen if you dig near the markers. In fact, they assured us they would never use a tractor around those yellow markers again.
Here comes the milestone part.
The site manager and I continued the tour of the project. Again, the yelling started. The boys weren’t using the trencher. It didn’t matter. One of the boys had chopped a hole with a shovel (this time) in the natural gas pipe three feet from where they broken the pipe earlier with the trencher.
I had just witnessed the unbelievable. This might have been the most (rhymes with cupid) thing I have ever seen in construction. I screamed at the boys to pack their (construction language) and get the (construction language) out of here. We called and back came the fire department, the two crews from the energy company, and the supervisor. None of which were happy. By now it was close to quitting time.
The supervisor was really angry. He talked about fining the boy's employer $5000 fine for the first break. He mentioned a $30,000 fine for the second break. The fire department wanted (and tried) to lecture me. I pointed to the boys. I mentioned to the fireman to hurry if he wanted to catch the boys. The boys were headed to their car and headed home. With one hundred pounds of coat, helmet, ax, boots, radios, and gas sniffing meters, the firemen could not run very fast. (I notice things.) The boys got away.
This was a milestone day. If the other days on this project are anything like this one, I will sink like a rock.
If another construction worker tells stories about how many buildings they completed, they are hiding the good stuff.
Our crazy lives!