Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rookie Requests

(Editors note: This column is printed using a half-inch offset wrench for column alignment).

It’s not easy being a rookie on a job site. Especially one that is as disorganized as this one.

In just three hours I had been asked for all sorts of things, none of which could be found let alone used by the people who needed them.

I first went hunting for a 6x9 inch hole saw. No luck – looked everywhere. There were no muffler bearings in the tool shed either. Same with the diesel spark plugs. I hunted for the soft-nose chisel, pre-fabricated post holes, and the spark bucket for the welders. Nada.

The truck needed blinker fluid according to the mechanic, and I hadn’t even gotten around to the piston return spring.

I was starting to get frustrated. The boss was going to kill me, I thought.

Someone must have misplaced the wire stretcher and lamp cutter. The mechanic needed a camshaft rotational dampener, and I never did find the reciprocating dingle arm for the framulator.

I used to think I was pretty handy with tools but this was a whole new world to me. It went on and on.

Striped paint, a carton of hinge bind, the light bulb repair kit, the sky hook, bubble level oil, a brass magnet, lightning bolts. This was a busy place and the guys were starting to lose patience with me. The boss was starting to get mad too – telling me to find these items or they would take all this wasted time off my first cheque. Yikes!

He told me to head up to the roof and look around for tomorrow’s newspaper and the four foot yardstick.

Later, I had to go to the airport for a bucket of prop wash and a box of grid squares. That was interesting because I was halfway there when the boss called again, cancelled that run, and sent me off to buy an air filter bypass kit. No one had any of those either, I discovered.

This was not good. When you start a new job you’ve got to do what the boss says if you’re going to get anywhere. You’ve got to be sharp and work hard. I was keen and I was trying – but that’s about all you could say.

Back at the shop I was putting fresh air in the tires (important in winter, according to the mechanic) when my radio crackled and the foreman told me to forget about the long weight and double sided transparencies and go pick up a box of mahogany welding rods and some stanchion remover. If they “had some phallopian tubes and frequency grease then put that on the purchase order as well,” he said. My notebook was getting full.

Off I went. In what was turning out to be a wildly unsuccessful day, I couldn’t find any of this stuff. I was getting frustrated, although the people I dealt with at the suppliers seemed friendly enough. They were always smiling – which was nice.

Then inspiration struck and I stepped on the gas. Back at the site I marched into the bosses’ office and started dropping tools on his desk.

Left handed screwdriver, some flight line from the airport, your Kenuter valve to drive a Johnson rod, glass hammer, box of enthusiasm and elbow grease, keys to the basement of this one storey building, and the snow tires for the wheel barrows! Does that about cover it?” I said, righteously.

He laughed. “Good job Crawford. You’ve done well. Come back tomorrow with a heavy duty clutch belt and you can get started in the office, once you blow out the telephone lines...”

They never let up in this business...

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