Is That What We’re Teaching?

One of the jobs I worked on was to wire up a chip mill in St. Marys, Idaho.  Our boss took us to a map and explained to us that if we took a specific short cut, the job site was just inside the border of the Subsistence line.  What this meant was that he did not have to pay for sleeping and eating arrangements at the job site.

A cost cutting measure, I presume.

Our crew was 3 journeymen and an apprentice.  We drove back and forth every day.  It was about an hour and a half drive each way, if we took the short cut.  The short cut was about 65 miles, the long way was about 85 miles, but only took about 10 minutes longer.  I’m not sure how the math worked out for saving subsistence versus paying about 10 hours each way just to travel.

It did, however, make for some scenic drives and interesting trips.

One day we were following another car when a pheasant flew up out of the ditch alongside the road.  The car ahead hit the pheasant, and when we got to it, the bird was flopping around on the road.  The guy in the front passenger seat opened up his door and snagged the bird as we passed.  He took it home for supper that night.

Waste not, want not, right?

The job site itself had a pond used to float logs.  An arm of it was located near our work shack.  Someone had thrown a 2×6 across one end of the arm of the pond and the workmen had taken to using it as their own personal “urinal.”  One time the apprentice went to the “urinal” and while using the facility, one of the journeymen decided to joke with him a little.  The journeyman wiggled the 2×6 to scare the apprentice.  It did.  The apprentice fell backwards and landed backside first in the pond.

Seems like an appropriate worksite behavior.

That apprentice took a lot of harassment from those journeymen.  I always thought that we should be teaching the trade instead of harassing the students.  Many of those apprentices, upon becoming journeymen, became just as bad or worse in dealing with the men under them.  It seemed to me that they had it backwards.

Kindness and understanding were just as easily passed along as harassment and initiation.