The Job and Politics Do Not Mix

The job was a government job.  Not one of those “time waster” jobs you do for yourself.  Not one of the jobs that are done on the employer’s dime but are not something he can charge for.  No, this job was for the Government.  It was at a radar station control center.

It was the first time I had worked with square conduit.  Square conduit is used when bouncing a signal along the inside walls of the conduit.  The dimensions have to be precise, both in the manufacture and the installation.  When the conduit turns a corner, the corner has to be exactly correct.  It is comparable to the bounce on a billiard ball, off of a side rail, on a pool table.  A specific angle results in a specific direction.

Round conduit would result in the signal getting lost in transit.

The carpenters were framing up the forms for a wall of a concrete.  The wall was two feet thick.  Inside the forms, and laid up next to the inside of the form, they installed what is called a “key.”  The key produced a particular finish on the concrete, instead of a plain concrete look when the forms and the key are pulled away.  In this case the key produced a vertical channel about ½ – ¾ inch deep and about 1-1/4 inch wide, spaced at specific intervals, and sunk into the face of the wall.

This job was taking place back in the day when Senator Goldwater and President Johnson were both running for the same political office.  One of the carpenters was a Goldwater man and the other was a Johnson man.  Oh how they loved to tell derogatory jokes about the other person’s candidate.

The rest of the crew would feed it, too.  They would hear a joke about one of the candidates and tell it to the opposing side.  After a little while the joke telling escalated and things began to get serious.  The two principles were about ready to come to blows, and the rest of the crew thought they might have pushed things too far.  They quit passing on the jokes.  Gradually the two men cooled off.

After the cement had set and the forms were pulled away, they found that a key had been left out of one of the form areas.  The decorative grooves were missing on one portion of the pour.

On a Government job, you don’t leave out anything, whether it serves a purpose or not.  The contractor had to get a cement saw and put the grooves in.  It was necessary to chip them out and grind them smooth.

I don’t know if anyone got fired over the mistake.  The job was nearly done and so was the election.

The whole crew learned a lesson.

Sometimes something done in fun doesn’t turn out to be fun.

“And don’t go mixing politics with the folk songs of our land” – or with the job at hand.