During the time I was working at the new Topanga Plaza shopping center, I became friends with another apprentice, “Babe” Jones. He had been in the trade a few months longer than I had, but had spent most of that time as a piece worker in the housing tracts. His uncle had told him it was time to learn something about other aspects of the trade and so he had found a job with us.
(We became pretty good friends and it was his experience and connections with the piece work industry that helped me through some rough times when we couldn’t find an hourly job.)
After awhile, we had finished the May Co. project and the Montgomery Wards store was winding down. What to do?
It was around this time that Marshall took me into the office and began training me as an estimator. We needed more jobs and he couldn’t bid enough of them by himself. My job was going to be estimating and bidding all of the small jobs I could find, while he bid the larger jobs that took up so much of his time.
Now I had to dress like an estimator, slacks and a nice shirt…even carry a briefcase. That really felt odd. My preference was for levis’s and boots.
Some of the first jobs that I estimated and bid on were store spaces for the new mall at Topanga Plaza. There were shoe stores and clothing stores, jewelry and furniture stores; mostly small and low budget, but they could keep a few men working while Marshall tried to secure a big job for us.
And not unexpectedly, with my lack of estimating skills, I secured some work! Not profitable…but it was work. And then I had to work on some of those same jobs. How embarrassing!