Sunday, March 18, 2012

Those Were The Days

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.


Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed your posts about your work and about the "fellas" there. Heck, even I feel a bit wistful about your leaving - I can only imagine how it must hit you.

Thanks for the post.


Carolyn said...

A very good post for the end of this chapter of your life Annie. Yet it causes my tears to flow for today I am going through a gripping chapter's end. My brother in Live Oak, Florida died yesterday by his own hand. Today is his birthdate. Life will go on, I have to assume.

chickory said...

This is a sad day - the part about the company being taken over where pride and craftsmanship were once king and now i suppose its a bottom line focus. such is the way of things in the new a'murka. You can still stop by the job sites I hope, and have a lunch with the boys. you hang in there - seems a rough patch for all this march.

Anonymous said...

Whew!! I am sure it is tough and you will miss them. I hate it when the job becomes all about the bottom line and to hell with the craftsmanship, or the pride of a job well done.
I left my last career, because it was never enough, never good enough, your years experience no longer mattered. They kick you to the curb so they can pay someone a fraction of what you were paid, but so what if they don't have the experience and sets the company up for a barrage of lawsuits.
People are the important parts. I know they will always carry you in their hearts and mind as will you. Nothing more important as your people, be it blood kin/work kin etc, even though some days you feel like throttling them all.
Hang in there, and I know you will be delighted to spend time with Jack, fowl kin, and Chigger dog kin.
I keep in touch with some folks I worked with from 30 years ago..I rarely see them, but I know they would have my back if I needed them.

Island Rider said...

Congratulations on your retirement, though knowing you, you will never retire. You just need to plan to host a big reunion at your place in a few months and get all the guys together again!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I can understand what you were saying here and how work friendships can be so important. Hopefully, you will be able to perhaps stay in touch w2ith a few of your guys.

Swamp Dog said...

I hope you enjoy your retirement, sometimes change is hard! Remember, when one door closes, another opens!

edifice rex said...

Hey R! thanks for your comment. It has been sad but it's for the best.

Hey Carolyn! Oh God, I'm so sorry. I will email you.

Hey Chic! yes, today has been sad on many levels. Yeah, I can stop by to see them and some of them come see me too or call regularly, so I'll see them some.

Hey Anon! thanks! yes, we will keep in touch through email and calls and such so I will still get to aggravate them some! :D

Hey IR! No, I'm not really retiring; just changes careers I guess. lol! They are planning a reunion at my wedding if that happens! they've already invited themselves! lol!

Hey Bea! yeah, I think some of us will stay in touch. And they are very important to me. :)

Hey swampy! I will enjoy it a great deal I think! thanks!

HermitJim said...

It's always hard to leave the company of friends, but think of all the adventures that await just around the corner!

You are someone that most all of us would be proud to call friend, I'm sure!

dennis said...

As a craftsman I have shared that good by. I said good by to my work family. I said good by to a craft I loved. I also said good by to an old way of life where quality, honesty, and the client mattered. It was over run by lawyers, MBA's, and bureaucrats. The bottom line and who can we place the blame on. There was a time I could do a $30,000.00 cabinet job on a handshake. Before cell phones a job would start on time. The materials would be right. The other trades would have done their job. The one I really miss was I'd look at the plans and they actually fit the job. Not some computer generated "blue" print spit out by some kid with an AA degree who could not add 5/16" and ten feet with out converting to decimals. Aw the good old days. See ya on the next job Annie!

edifice rex said...

Hey Dennis! wow, I remember those days! and the project managers would have the materials on the job for you when you actually needed them, not 2 months before or after. lol!
It just makes me so sad to see how things have gone.
Hey, I looked at your site and DANG, how could you have not sold your work?? It's beautiful!! I don't see why the pieces would not fit into a number of different style homes.
See you on the next one buddy!

Bone said...

Refreshing perspective. Reminds me of my time working in the copper mill. I remember my last day, people who had ragged me and argued with me and had even given me a nickname (Avis, if you're curious) came up to me to wish me luck and tell me I'd been a good worker. One even went so far as to say he could tell I was a good man. I'll never forget that.

There was definitely a camaraderie there that I'm not sure I realized at the time.