Working with The Old Man

When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was to accompany The Old Man on his electrical jobs. The Old Man was a Master Electrician and had a full-time job at a paper factory. The factory has long since closed as much of America's manufacturing has done. At any rate, The Old Man had a side business doing residential and commercial wiring. He loved it. Nothing gave The Old Man more joy than to go out on a service call after he came home from work. I know what you're saying: "Wasn't The Old Man tired after a long day sweating away at the paper mill?" No way bitches!

But he did have people working for him. Oh yes. His workforce consisted of his master race. Through the years, every one of The Old Man's sons, well except for Craig, were enlisted in the electrical Wehrmacht. Instead of Tiger tanks, we drove a custom Econoline van slathered with The Old Man's company logo on it. This included a bitchin' electric plug with lightning coming out of it. Ah, there were many iterations of the van. Every time a new one was purchased, the long and arduous task of transferring the tools and supplies was left to the youngest of the Wehrmacht. This consisted of fastening all The Old Man's makeshift electrical supply carriers to the van. These mainly were plastic milk carton containers screwed to the metal walls of the van. I never really knew where he got all of these containers, but that's neither here nor there. The transfer of supplies also involved attaching the extension ladder brackets to the top of the new van. This was always wicked fun. The Old Man must have had the same brackets for at least thirty years.

As The Old Man spent the days working at the plant, a couple of his crew would be busy on the latest job. I'm sure some of the retired Wehrmacht will attest to the shear hell of working on a job without The Old Man there to give instructions. Much of the time the working conditions at the jobs The Old Man took were absolutely appalling. Dirty diapers, garbage, and mounds of dog sculptures were usually everywhere. The following snapshot is from one of the more heinous jobs I was on.
Would you like a banana?

During my enlistment it the electrical service, life was mostly mediocre. The Old Man was hard on his workers and there was much yelling. As hard as this is to believe, there were times when I wanted to lick a 200 amp service.

Actually, there are some distant and fond memories in the back of my mind that come to the surface every once and awhile as I sit in some monotonous and meaningless meeting. These recollections usually are of the times I worked with my brother, let's call him Robert, and our buddy, let's call him Don, at a gigantic mansion that was once a sorority house and was being converted to a bed and breakfast. Working at the 150 year old brick monster was like being on an episode of This Old House. The Old Man loved working on this job and he imagined he was Norm Abram. Hey, they both looked good in flannel.

I cannot close without mentioning the other members of Electrical Wehrmacht. The Old Man's son-n-laws also gave their nights and weekends in the service of The Old Man's company. As they probably can agree, we may not have always known what we were doing, but that little bit of extra money helped out in many ways.

Later in life, I was actually able to retain some knowledge from my time in the trenches. I've put in a few receptacles here and there and mounted a couple of fan lights. And I'm sure every one of us have been able to look far past the frustration we felt when we didn't know how to hook something up and were berated by The Old Man. And now we just recall the things we do know how do from our days in the Service.

I'll never forget a story told to me by one of my co-workers in a previous IT job. Well, he used to live in my hometown and at one time owned a bar. At the time of purchasing this establishment, it needed some work and he was strapped for cash. Of course the compressor on his refrigeration unit died. He looked in the phone book and called The Old Man. The Old Man fixed the broken compressor and upon hearing the plight of my co-worker, wouldn't take any money. Now this occurred around forty years ago and my co-worker has never forgotten it. There was actually a tear in his eye when he told me this. At the time he relayed this story to me, The Old Man was in the hospital after suffering his stroke. Suffice it to say, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom.

So there you have it. As I sit here, seven hours and four hundred miles away from The Old Man, I look around my lonely apartment and I have strange urge to turn all of the receptacles on the walls right-side up.

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