Wednesday, March 01, 2006

First Day

(I should probably note here that I didn’t give up my night job when I took on this new job as an apprentice carpenter. I continued to work at the Texaco station 6 nights a week.)

Before my first day at work I took some time to investigate the new tools that I had “purchased”. (Alex Akoury, the foreman…had selected them, I was going to pay for them.) I had a tape measure, carpenters pencil, aviation snips, “Keel” (lumber crayon), drywall knife, circle cutter, drywall saw, and a Plumb #2 Box Hatchet. All of this was combined with a tool holder and a nail pouch attached to a military style web belt. Very impressive and very heavy. I was also given a hard hat and told to buy some work boots.

Very early on a Monday morning, I made my way to the office of the local union and was given a dispatch to the jobsite. After a little bit of wandering around in the residential sections of Hollywood, I found where the Leon Apartments were being constructed and located a parking place.

The apartments were very impressive; 9 stories of concrete lift slab construction.
There was an orange colored Alimak construction elevator attached to the side of the building and it was at the base of the elevator where I spotted Marshall. He introduced me to Alex Akoury, my new boss. Introductions were short and we headed to the corner of the building and up the stairwell, Alex leading the way at a fast pace, while I stumbled and tripped over the unfamiliar and rough terrain of a construction site. We exited the stairwell on the third floor and went to a large corner apartment where the “gang box” was located. This room was also the lunch room for the crew and all were there for coffee break. I had arrived just in time to be introduced as the “new guy” and a “cub” as well. (Apprentices were “cubs” and very low on the construction social scale.) When we walked in, I could barely see. The room was quite dark, but I noticed that there were about a dozen people sitting on rough benches located all around the room. And in the middle of the room, one man was down on both knees and slapping the floor with his cloth cap as he punctuated the telling of some sort of joke? What was this? What was he saying? I couldn’t understand a word…

Alex said something and the man on the floor jumped up, startled. Alex began the introductions with him; “Blackey, this is Steve. He’s your new apprentice. Steve; Blackey.” Then a quick introduction to the shadowy figures located around the room. I did notice that there were two other apprentices among the men, but I was still the newest one. Seniority counts when you’re an apprentice!

After a minute or two, Alex looked at his watch and said, “Get a move on. Break’s over. Steve, go with Blackey. Blackey; show him what you need done.” The room quickly emptied.

OK, so much for polite cit chat…my first day had begun.

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