Thursday, April 16, 2009

Every Day is Wednesday

Every day is Wednesday.

That is what my boss told me. When you work twelve-hour days, seven days a week for several weeks, every day seems like Wednesday.
One day I asked him how his day was going. He replied it was OK for a Monday. Of course, it wasn’t Monday. At least I didn’t think so. But it is easy to get confused on those matters. I inquired what he meant by that. He said, bad days were Mondays. Things had gone wrong that day, so it was a Monday, but things were looking up, the problems solved so it was better.

Today is my last day. I guess that makes today Friday. I found my self singing the same song all day long, from Les Miserables. One More Day. . . 2-4-6-0-1

This company is so nice. The people are typical construction workers. They are happiest when they are kept busy. By that I mean they are not afraid to work and get dirty. But these men are clean cut. Most have families. I hardly hear a swear word, and when it does happen, they quickly remember their manners and apologize. Most drink coffee, chew or smoke, or a combination. Occasionally I see a Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper. Most work hard all day. The bosses have hired enough temporary workers that they know how many they will need, and there is no time for slackers. There are, of course, slackers. Today on the scaffolding crew, one kept popping out of the hole like popcorn. I had to write his name down many more times than the rest. At the end of the day, one of our workers mentioned how "Popcorn" was hated by all down below. He was supposed to be handing the scaffolding up through the first hole, instead, he went up the ladder to just below the surface and texted the rest of the afternoon. But most are really hard workers.

Because of the short time I work with them, I don’t get to know them very well. But some return from previous years. Like friends you haven’t seen for a year, it is fun to have their names pop right back into your head as soon as you see them. I hadn’t thought of Carlos for a year, yet the minute he was on the job, I knew his name.

Today I am in the Suburban again. I got to spend the weekend in there, but was back inside the dirty, drafty building the next two days. Today the project is winding down, and I am watching the outside entrances to the Condenser. The Scaffold men are taking the scaffold down.
I am in awe of the scaffold men. They are here to make things safe for the rest of the workers. But who makes it safe for them?

Sailor took me up to the 13th floor to show me the boiler. But a “level” for the power plant is more like two levels in any other building. A set of stairs that gets you to the next level in a house is only half the way up in the power plant. One has to travel two sets of stairs to make it to the next floor. We came to a door surrounded by a fence. When I looked inside, there was a large room that spans the entirety of the 13 floors down and several more upwards. I felt my stomach drop as my eyes traveled downward.

I backed away holding the railing with one hand and my stomach with the other. But then my husband directed my attention to the top part. Suspended from beams above the ceiling is a curtain of heavy tubes that hang down, then turn toward the wall. Under that is a large shelf, called a bull nose that juts out. It starts at the top of the room on one wall then juts out at a 45 degree angle away from the wall like a slide for about 15 or 20 feet (I will check with facts, but in that huge room, my concept of measurements is completely messed up). My husband says it is closer to 50 feet. Then it turns at a right angle and heads back to the wall. If there is a way to get to the top of this bull nose and slide down, you would have a 12 story, or is it more like 24 story fall before you hit bottom. At around the second floor level two walls of this huge room slope inward and meet at the bottom like an elongated funnel.

I know now where Star Wars got their inspiration for that room where Luke is sword fighting Darth Vader. You know, the one where you cannot see the bottom? Well, that is what I thought of when I saw this room. You can take pictures, but you never quite get the true feeling until you see it in person. Sort of like a Cathedral in Europe. I probably could have taken several panoramic pictures and pasted them together, but unless I made it 3-D, I don't think you would still get the idea.

The startling sight for me was the scaffold in the middle of this bull nose. First of all, how did they ever get to that place to build the scaffold? I am sure they have their ways, but I don’t think I would ever have the courage to watch. I was freaking out watching my men jump around on a two-story place. I might have just keeled over with fright or faintness had I been the entrance attendant for this place. I feel dizzy just describing it. I thought my painter men were part monkey they way they climb and swing from place to place. They are amazingly agile and light. Last year I watched the scaffold men build a tent room to house the workers while they did their work and they climbed around, slapping their safety harnesses from place to place. I thought they were amazing, but this year, when I saw that huge room and the height of that scaffold, I realized why it was so easy for them to hop around on a tiny tent scaffold. I could never do that, and I am glad my children don't have that vocation either. I would never get any sleep.

I just have to say two things: number one: I am so glad I am a stay-at-home mom/seamstress. Number two: if it were up to me to earn the living, I probably wouldn’t join the painting or scaffolding crew.

So today is Friday for me. My sixteen day journey of Mondays, and Wednesdays has now come to an end. It has been a fun adventure, but if I had to maintain any more twelve hour days, without one day off, I think it would be hard, and I might have to turn to more legally addictive stimulants like Mountain Dew. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, and looking forward to two pretty nice pay checks.

I took pictures, well, I had Sailor take pictures. He will email them to me tomorrow from work, so I can post them.

have a nice night

1 comment:

RisibleGirl said...

"if it were up to me to earn the living, I probably wouldn’t join the painting or scaffolding crew."

Amen, my friend. Amen!


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