July 8, 2012

Memory Lane is more like a dark alley strewn with abandoned cars, garbage, pimps and potholes

Yesterday was soul-sucking hot. I suspect it is a mere preview of what I can expect in the afterlife. I hope not, but ...

Anyway, yesterday was about as uncomfortable as any day I can remember. I have spent some hot days in the sun. In my youth I worked summers as a roofer. I spent my days perched high above the ground, usually on industrial sites: repairs, replacements, new stuff.

Let me tell you, you know hot when you spend the day in the sun, sans any shade at all, working in 180 degree hot tar. The sun burns your face, the tar burns through your heavy work boots. But my discomfort was mitigated by muttering a constant mantra of $12 bucks an hour...$12 bucks an hour...Throw in an occasional bonus of overtime plus travel expenses and you have a pretty good summer gig.  A weekly check that topped five hundred bucks is pretty good for a part-time summer job these days (provided you can even find a summer job).  It was unbelievably good money back in the early 1980's.  To measure that kind of wealth in college boy terms, twelve bucks an hour was two cases of beer earned every hour -- and that meant the good stuff, not Kroger Cost Cutter beer, Fallstaf or Carling's Black Label.

It was brutally hard work. The fucking union took $70 a week off the top of my paycheck. Even today, more than three decades later, the idea that more than one-half a day's work went straight into the pockets of the AFL/CIO pisses me off. For ten weeks every summer some Mafioso or Commie Bastard or Democrat stole money from my labors. Some things never change, do they?


CnC said...

I did some tough jobs back in the day, like construction, putting up hay, building railroad track, but I couldnt figure out how the hell guys could stand laying asphalt and hot decking roofs like what you did. I would fucking melt.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Yeah, but SALES!
Now that's tough work!

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Dad worked one summer in a creosote plant where they creosoted railroad ties. He also spent some time on a track gang replacing ties.

Another summer, he worked in a rock wool insulation plant.

He and I spent a lot of summers working in peoples' attics installing air conditioning and various and sundry electrical crap, but nothing was ever worse than having to work on a busted air conditioner on a flat tar and gravel roof in the blazing sun.

Woodman said...

My wife detassled corn at 15. She said it taught her all kinds of lessons about life and work.

We've been looking for a similar job for our 15 year old, ain't no such thing anymore.

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