Saturday, December 17, 2011

If You Don't Like It You Can Suck My Dick PART 1

"I love pill whores," shouts Bill, my new coworker. "I love dirty pill popping whores who strip on the side and fuck in the middle!"
We're standing in a cold second story apartment complex under construction. I don't know what I'm doing but I need the money and as long as I don't break a window or lose my temper then I'll probably get paid.
"Do you have carpentry experience?" the temp agent had asked.
"You bet. I wrote the code book for the White House. Frame to finish," I had lied with a straight face, desperate for money, tired of my principles getting in my way. So I ended up here at these apartments, on the clock, wasting money looking for my hammer, living the dream like the roofers from Honduras...
"If you don't like it you can suck my dick," Sings Bill as the Blood for Blood song coming from his phone speaker reaches a guttural climax.

I smile uneasily and motion my hands down.
"Ok," I whisper in my library voice.
I can hear workers downstairs banging nails in blue plastic power outlet boxes. Latino roofing crews put more Americans out of work on ladders outside. Their banging on the roof comes in morse code patterns: bang-bang-bangbangbang.
"I don't give a fuck if people hear. I'm a recovering addict," says Bill. "That means I smoke crack off the clock. Hahaha! Look!" Bill reviews his contact list in spite of my obvious discomfort. "I can get pills from him, meth from him, that skank still owes me money, cocksucker, cocksucker....pot...whatever."
"Ok. So you have contacts. I get it," I say with a fake smile.
"Fuck that. I don't deal no more. I used to pimp pill whores out of my pad. Three fucking years while I was recovering from my bulging disk. Pills and pimpin'. Fucked up, yo! I got pictures..."
Our other coworker, Nick, has been grinning nearby and suddenly pipes up in a clear and loud voice, "When I was serving time, because my public pretender was a jerkoff...I..."
Bill interrupts him as though he wasn't even speaking, "Look at this bitch. Look at that snatch!"
He shows me a self taken duck lips picture (in a mirror (could be fake)) of a twenty something girl. She's got a tattoo "BITCHon the area above her panty line and below her navel.
"Her tattoo says 'Bitch'," says Bill, in case I missed it. He scrolls up her thin (devoid of subcutaneous fat, indicative of meth use) hip-less stripper body.
"What's her name?" I say, to humanize her in my mind.
"Jen. Her stage name was Kitten or Charlene or something...She was a rock hard stripper/prostitute."
"Escort," I clarify. "They like to be called escorts."
"I don't give a fuck," says Bill in what is his trademark phrase, impossible to imitate, almost musical, definitely rhythmic rap based, uttered with emphasize on the fuck and with almost monotone expression and deep loathing for whomever is in his presence, his accent almost southern but not quite innocent of Northern heritage. His routine arguments with the roofers begin not with "Ah-mee-go" but with "A-mee-go" as in "No, a-mee-go, you can't have that fuckin' ladder cause we gotta get this shit done." His phrasing is as beautifully and expertly executed as an Italian aria by Puccini.
"I mean...," I begin before Bill interrupts me with his last and final word on the subject.
"No! The only thing they're escorting is my cock into their vagina."
Then Bill and Nick begin to shuffle/dance around in their big steel toe boots singing, "If you don't like it you can suck my dick..." over and over, the sawdust from a hundred Honduran roofers is stirred from the plywood floors into my delicate nostrils and I begin to sneeze.
"I'm gonna play some baseball after woooork. Hoooo! Mothafuckah!" sings Bill, referring to smoking a pipe loaded with drugs. (He made good on this promise)
"If you don't like it, you can suck my dick..." sing the two of them, stomping around, as I sneeze and wipe my dripping nose with an oil soaked rag.

By the end of the day, a day filled with major and minor mistakes, misunderstandings, malicious attacks, malingering, misery and malaise, I calculate the three of us earned $180 ($60 each) while the foolish contractor paid $370 (total) and I estimate that if they (the contractor) had come down to the temp agent and paid all the employees there $10 each to NOT go to their job site, then they would save at least $100 and whatever they have to pay to fix our blunders, so possibly $500 of savings.

But that's only my opinion and my experience at construction sites has always been burdened by my endless pondering to determine the best plan of action. This irreconcilable clash manifests itself when I am tasked with fitting 2X4 wood coated with fire proof putty into a corner in order to comply with safety codes regarding draft stops and smoke chambers. I cut the 4 pieces of wood to fit but neglect to write the corresponding location on each piece of wood so when I return to the room (the saw being 100 yards away) I must fit each piece of wood into the space to determine where it goes. Then there is sheetrock that is jaggedly preventing the wood from seating all the way into the corner. So, after hunting down my hammer, I chip the sheetrock away and pound the wood into place, planning to remove the wood once I hunt down the fireproof putty. Enter Bill:
He's screaming, I believe, because he's learned that if you are yelling then you are considered valuable. But if the boss doesn't hear him yell then it would be pointless so he has to really scream for his voice to be heard down below in the boss trailer. It's worked so far because he's had a few weeks on this one job and now he's earning overtime, a gross violation of the agency's frugal methods. However, his insistence that he "Knows every motherfucking thing about construction" has been put in serious doubt by some of his commands and the subsequent outcome.
"I'm almost...." I begin...
"Not yet. I..."
"Well, those...."
Bill screams this last line as loud as possible, slightly turning his head in the direction of the boss's trailer as he yells it.
"I put them up so I'd know they would fit when..."
This remark has me laughing inwardly as we spent at least 3 hours running in comical circles as his earlier direction was totally contradicted by a code inspector.

Code Inspector: Don't put caulking on the bottom.
Bill: That's exactly what I told them not to do. GODDAMNIT!

Three hours earlier...
Oggy: So, put caulking on the bottom and the top?

Flash forward 4 hours:

"Alright." I say and get busy coating the fire proof putty onto the wood and hammering it into place. This works much easier than when I watched Nick attempt the procedure with the fire putty on the wood and the piece not yet fitted into the space. His face was covered with putty from when he had to chisel into the sheetrock to make the wood fit. Then the wood fell. The floor was littered with 3'' nails he had dropped as he tried to nail them through 1/2'' sheetrock using a 2' long framing hammer. Then he hit his thumb with the hammer.
"Motherfucker! They don't give us the right tools! If they only knew how to do it right the first time we wouldn't need to do this! Fucking Mexicans!"

This ongoing prejudice against Latino workers on the job irks me. Standing up for a people (Mexicans) I have grown to love and admire, quitting the job to protest the acute prejudice shown toward them, is precisely what has prevented me from getting a job in the first place. And now that I'm on the clock and making nearly $8 an hour, I would be a fool, a dreamy idealist, to risk that pirate's ransom, to defend the honor and memory of the unnamed Mexican. Furthermore, despite the lazy, shiftless stereotypes dogging the Mexican's legacy, they are all doing their work far more efficiently than us. True, some crew completely messed up their installation of the sheetrock on these walls, leading to a huge gap in the corners and between the studs and the sheet rock (some kind of metal band has been used to brace the sheetrock rather than screws into the studs) and that is a fire code violation because now smoke and air and fire can flow freely between the studs. (I can't pretend to understand any of it but I did glean some shreds of information that I will pass on to you).
However, if the roofing crew is indeed made up of politically allied Mexicans, rather than Mexican-Americans who live in Texas and travel around the country doing fast and economical (charging $33 a square foot opposed to $140) installations then maybe Nick has a valid argument. Maybe there is an injustice I'm ignorant of. Or is globalization good for commerce and real estate in general. Would these cottages be affordable if not for low wage roofers? I try to introduce myself to one of the roofers but am ignored. Another one lifts a 3/4'' sheet of plywood with one arm and drags it through the dirt. I grab the other end and he stops and looks at me with his dark eyes peering through the hood of his sweatshirt. He could be Mexican but I'll never know. "No." he says simply and I let go. He drags the plywood away alone. There is a barrier between these tropical Central Americans and my pale skinned companeros.

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out when I can jokingly say, "We probably won't be getting to the cabinets today." That moment never arrives because the day begins in chaos and ends in tribulation but for those who want to know what cabinets I'm referring to, they are the cabinets that I was originally dispatched to instal, the cabinets that didn't exist on the job site and won't exist for several weeks. Those are the cabinets I'm talking about, which brings me to the section of this memoir where I bring to task my temp agency, the inept Work a Day hall where bad attitudes are required and every junkie can patiently await a job from a condescending dispatcher. The woman, Kim, who had called me during my Library retreat, had offered me a job "Installing cabinets, simple, if you know how to use a measuring tape...little blocks of say you have carpentry experience so are you interested?"

to be continued....


Anonymous said...

no pictures/videos?! if i want to read a book, i will read a book... but this is the fucking internet

Jules said...

This is good Oggy.

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Anonymous said...

L.B how's it goin?

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Oggy Bleacher said...

I don't like people spying on me. get a fucking life.

Anonymous said...

for every author their is a spy.......................crack head

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.