Making the House Payment

Making the House Payment

In Montana and North Dakota where the winters are extremely cold, construction work generally shuts down during winter months.  You have to wait for the spring thaw.  You try to schedule your payments to allow for being out of work.  You also store up food for the winter, just in case you don’t have a regular income.  Unemployment compensation at that time was very limited  …  er … small would not be an overstatement.


One winter I was spending time at home when I got a call to do some work in a dairy.  There had been a fire in a room with an ice-cream making machine.  The ice-cream making machine used ammonia as a means of refrigeration.  Because the ammonia fumes were very strong, they kept the windows open.  The open windows allowed fresh air to drift inside the room.


The fire had melted the wire insulation just enough to stick it to the inside of the conduit.  The whole room and all the equipment needed to be rewired.  My job was to remove all the existing, fire damaged conduit and wiring.  I had to cut the conduit and wiring into pieces and toss it out one of the open windows.


I heard the General Contractor telling his man: “Load up all that stuff Adrian has been throwing out and haul it to the dump ground.”  Immediately I went to the owner of the building and asked if I could take the stuff home with me.


He said; “I don’t care.  Just get it out of here.”  I went back to the General Contractor and told him I had permission to haul it myself so not to haul it to the dump.


After work that day I loaded it all onto my pick up.  It was piled higher than the cab.  At home I unloaded it in our back yard.  On the weekend I started a bon fire.  I would throw a piece of conduit in the fire.  When it got hot enough to soften the insulation on the wire, I would take a pair of pliers and jerk the copper out of the end of the conduit.  I piled the copper in one pile and the conduit in another.


We owed a house payment on our new mobile home of $132.00


The next week I took the copper to the recycler and got $132.00 for it.  Thus we survived another winter.


(How’s that for good planning?)


I was green recycling before green recycling was cool.