Tuesday, August 29, 2006

After the storm

After that brief detour, my story returns to Connecticut.

The blizzard took place in the middle of winter and there was still plenty of cold weather for us to endure. And we saw what a New England winter would do to production figures. Our crew came to work each day in heavy insulated overalls with heavy jackets or sweatshirts on top of that. Most wore hardhats with insulated liners in them. This was fine gear to wear if you were going to be standing around in the cold, but it was our intention to get these people moving!

That was easier said than done. The work ethic was simply not part of the culture here and so it was like pulling teeth to get them to shed a jacket and work a little harder to stay warm. Alex and I dressed completely different from our crew, wearing jeans and thermal tops and nothing more than that. And our small crew of French Canadians dressed similarly. Even our shoes (insulated boots) were different. The crew wore heavy sno-packs and shuffled about in them. Speed was not an option with those kind of boots.

It wasn’t really that cold inside the building as we had insisted that the temperature had to be at least 40 degrees if they wanted us to start taping. So there were heaters (salamanders) everywhere and the roar from them was deafening. Plus, the kerosene fumes grew heavy in the air as the temperature climbed towards 45 or 50 degrees. It was actually quite pleasant to take a break outside, where the temperature might be 10 or 15 degrees…but the air was crisp clean and it was blissfully quiet.

With our Canucks leading the way, we finally had some drywall ready to tape and that was when Eddie joined us from California. He had volunteered for the job and he was good friend as well, so we welcomed him to our small “home” by the lake. Within a few days a box of taping tools arrived from California and we unpacked them on the job. What a surprise that was! As we took the tools out of the box, we noticed that we had a large crowd of observers watching us. One carpenter asked, “What in the heck are those things?” That was when we knew we were in trouble. Apparently, the tapers in this area never used these kinds of tools. We found out that they used hand tools exclusively and there was a Painter’s Union ban on the use of taping tools like “boxes” and “bazookas”. Oops!

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