“american upbeat”(the brotherhood)
Recalling my first day, thrown right into the fire! We’re pouring concrete and there are areas in the pour that need to be blocked out. With a metal lath material we begin to create voids as concrete is placed at our heels. We need to get this fast and I’m quick to cut. My DNA is all over that deck. I’d been hustling this job over the past three months and had begun to feel the effort was in vain. For about five weeks I’d been told I would start the next week. Getting work in this trade has changed. When I first joined we didn’t hustle, we dispatched from the hall, the contractor hired and fired. Twenty five guys would go out in the morning, twenty three would be at the hall that night, signing back on the list. Day after day this continued, until the contractor was satisfied with his crew. These days its not much different than what you see going on at Home Depots. At about 5:30-6:00am the crowds begin to gather at the gate, waiting to see if the boss man would be hiring. Out of the crowd he may pick 2 or 3, at random, if he’s putting on. I had watched the beginning of this job from the street, as a small crew in the hole worked on grade beams. Seeing the first of what would be four tower cranes going up, I knew they would be maning up soon. Its a fine line between being available, and being a pest, you show up with your tools ready to go. Well I guess I hadn’t pissed anyone off, as finley I got the call. This is a young mans game, very few guys in there 50s doing this work. Its hot and its hard, an aggressive schedule has us at 12 hour days, 6 days a week. This boss man lays it on the line, letting us know, right out of the box what he needs out of us. He tells us they’ve been keeping the engineers up nights, keeping up with the work, that this job is rolling like a freight train, and don’t get in the way. I’ve worked in these holes for about 30 years, being bird dogged, the boss man up top, watching all the action. This man is different, he’s right in it with us, in support of us. I’d had a rough run a few years back, going through three jobs in about a month. When I got on the fourth, I decided to keep a low profile, always to remember how hard it is to hit a moving target. It took 60 days before the boss man asked someone “who is that guy”, what’s his name? He was told my name was Larry, and went another 30 days before he found out it was Ed. If they don’t know your name, its hard for them to get you your check. My brothers knew I’d had a rough time, and seized the opportunity, to provide me autonomy. Coming to the conclusion this was a successful strategy, I decided to adopt it. Starting on these big jobs is difficult, the footprint here was 4.6 acres. Materials are spread out all over, its even hard lo locate the nails. The best you can do is to be helpful, until you get the lay of the land. When you hear someone barking they need something, you run to get it. Not knowing who’s who, you try not to piss anybody off. A lot of guys are barking all the time, the feeling is, that the boss man will hear them, and know there working. These are the same guys that walk away from a task before complete, leaving it for someone else. So I’ve got this short little clown barking at me to get him nails, to get him 2by4s, etc, and I’m running. He tells me he needs forms for the capitols, and I just really want to get away from this guy. Its a bad look wandering around, locating Materials, not getting your own work done. A little later in the game, after you figure out who’s who, you just tell these clowns, “let me drop what I’m doing and take care of your problems”, then just walk away. Anyhow, finley I locate where I’ll find these forms. I go down into the parking structure where they are being stripped. As I’m walking in, from behind me, I hear “Ed,where are you going”? So my second day on this job, the boss man knows my name. I let him know what I’m up to and he’s good with it, however, my adopted strategy for success is out the door, I feel there’s a target on my back.