I know I'm not supposed to show pictures from work but screw it.....I don't work for them anymore. And by them I mean, the company that bought us and imposed this asinine rule, not my old company.
At any rate, this is from my last safety meeting with the guys. I know I should be happy to be able to retire from this business and pursue a career that means more to me personally but I still can't help but feel a great sadness today. Sadness to see a once really great company that prided itself on true craftsmanship and quality, now faded to just a handful of guys that even remember those days. Sadness to see these men now struggle with overflow of bureaucratic bullshit that has all but washed away any joy or satisfaction of a job being built and completed. But that's a long story and not really what I'm writing about tonight.
Mostly it's a sadness for lost love. Bear with me on this and let me explain....At this point in my life most of my natural family has passed away or otherwise gone. I have one brother and one sister with their small families and my Mom. I rarely see any of them though, except my Mom. Through actual death or the death of common interests I've lost most of my birth family and now I'm losing my adopted family, my friends, my sweethearts. Now, some people may scoff at such an idea. How could these rough ol' men, who are not supposed to accept a female in their trade, be any kind of family to me? How is it that we can go a couple of years at times without even seeing each other and then to step onto a new job together and it be like you were never apart? And worse still I reckon is what does it say about me; a woman that can get along far better with a bunch of raggedy ass, hard livin' and generally misunderstood men, more than anybody else in this world? To tell you the truth, I never have really figured that one out. I never have known why they so completely accepted me. I've seen a few other women come and go with our company and I guess that may be part of it; they never stayed. Mostly because they weren't worth killin', as they guys would say. Now before anybody has a stroke, that just means they didn't think the women could work very well. They didn't try.
I do know that I always tried my best to do my job without asking for help every time I turned around but I never tried to be a man. I understood they had me on sheer strength. I also know that most of those guys are not the mules that most of society thinks they are and that even an old carpenter sometimes just needs somebody to talk to. I guess the two things brought us together. They respected my efforts and I respected them. Did we fuss and argue? Oh hell yes. We've cussed each other 'til we were red in the face. We've kicked and stomped and slung many a hardhat. We've finished more than one job swearing that was the last. But then, a few hours or maybe a day or two to cool off and we'd sidle back up next to each other. We couldn't stay mad for long.
I've been through a number of rough patches in my life. Some of my own doing, some not. Through it all the people that I could most depend on, whether for a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand up, was these guys. They know me pretty good and they helped me know myself. They have been my cheering section and have done their darnedest to establish my legend. Even on my last day they couldn't help but recount some of the stories again that they get such a kick out of. Like the time I shamed a boy into quitting because I took a sledgehammer away from him and showed him how to really use it; that's their favorite I think. I'll never live that one down. And for the record, I think they embellish it a little. The boy didn't quit until the next day.
I am Miss Annie, Sweet Pea, Anna (to my Hispanic boys), Fruitcake, Sweet Thang, Susie Q or just Ma'am. They are my Sweeties, Honey, Sir, my Men and I will miss them so.