Diary of a Gentleman Scumbag 8/29/2010

Any job post that states “No experience required” is a job for suckers. I’m a sucker. That’s what Unck would say.

The beginning of my salad days… I labored for a guy who worked out of Crafton this summer. SOB worked me to the bone and paid garbage. No tax but Garbage.

Take your licks. Own your mistakes. Own the mistakes of others. 

Excavation $8/hour. No Experience required!!! The job post states.

I replied immediately.

Two days later I pull into the Sam’s Club Parking lot. It’s a 90 plus day. Joe’s a little arthritic bastard with too much grease in hair. I shake his hand. He speaks in stubborn laborers sentences with a how it is tone. A lot yep’s, what’s wrong’s.  He never laughs. I learn he’s divorced with 15-year-old boy, “He don’t want to work.”
“I do.”
“Do ya’.”
“Give me something to do.”
“See when they put this drain in they used this foam shit. It got wet froze up. Bam. Sink hole.”
“Dose this happen a lot?”
“These big contractors. I take the side work.”
“Come look at this hole…”

No bullshit, policy of everyone who knows anything about anything.

“I dug this out, see. I patched the outside watertight. Filled it in with rocks and earth. Today’ you’re goanna fill it out four inches of limestone dust. Then tamp it down with this hand tamper.”

“Sounds good.”

“Over time as people walk over the ground it compacts the soil turns it solid like a rock. It would take a hundred years to press this much dust down, that tamper will do it in an hour.”

“So what did you do before? You don’t need any experience because I’ll show you have to do whatever I need to do.”

After working at something so long… pass it on.
After so many years in a trade you learn a little of everything. You’ll never learn what you’re worth.
You’ll make money. It won’t be enough. And more than you need. You learn to build a life around what you do. You put yourself into what you make. And become yourself by doing it.

“How are you with heights?”

Within an hour I’m harnessed in dangling in a manhole a small bucket of quick dry tied to my waist and a trial in my hand. It’s a good 80 feet down; I feel the wait of my steel-toed boots pulling on that space.

“This shit stinks.”

“I’ll get you a mask”

By the time he get’s it I’ll have suffocated in this drainage pipe I’m suspended in. I’ll die in here and he’ll cement over me no one will ever find me down here. I doo my best to get the job done.

“It don’t have to be pretty just covered… you know?”

I don’t know… anything about work. Five years of scholarships, and grant letters, and term papers… I don’t know shit from apples!

Joe tells me that tomorrow we will be filling in the hole he dug, 57-80 lbs. bags of cement. Two fit in the electric mixer at a time. My job will be cut open each bag lift it and then dump it in the mixer. he seems pleased but disheartened.

“Once we start it will be about an hour and half of continues work. Then you’ll clean my tools.” He’ll pay me 12 an hour for cement work, he says. But next week it’s back to 8. All his work’s in Crafton after this sink-hole job.  I climb out of the hole he sizes up my work and hands me a pocket sweat wad of cash for the day. See you at ten AM.

“No drinking tonight.”

It was hot work but there is nothing like sweaty money. I turn all of it into river water (Iron City beer) and gas station subs. The problem money.


About Joe
I collect crazy, and catch kitchens on fire.

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