I broke the power cord to my laptop. I’m waiting on a new one, but until then, I’m typing this on my tablet. Please excuse any spelling errors.
I was hired on as a laborer but quickly began filling any role required. When the secretary was on vacation; I helped to cover administrative duties.When the acquirer was busy, I would go pick up supplies in my truck. I learned to operate the Bobcat to help keep the work site clean.
That was one of the best jobs. Being entrusted with heavy machinery is incredible. Especially if you are immature as I am and pretended you were a dinosaur with giant jaws of steel.
It was also my responsibility to keep the Bobcat lubricated. I don’t know why, but this always struck me as being kind of sexy.
One day I showed up for work only to find that the foreman had been using what i had begun to consider to be ‘my’ Bobcat. He had driven over the sewer line and crushed it.
Our plumber was unavailable and there was somehow nobody to fix it. The foreman turned to me.
“Have you ever fixed a pipe before?”
“Well, it isn’t that hard. Just dig it up, saw a clean cut, and cap it off.”
It actually did sound easy. Too easy. But I knew I could figure it out. I’m good with that stuff.
I started digging. I don’t know how the fuck he had broken the pipe. It was four feet under the ground. I dug until I nearly passed out.
Some of you may think you know what hot weather is. But unless you have been that close to the equator you have no clue. To get some idea, wet a bathrobe and a towel with boiling hot water. Then go outside on the hottest day of summer wearing the bathrobe. Put the towel over your head so you have to breathe through it. That’s an approximation of Miami in the summertime. Short of that, try running into a burning building in full firefighter gear. I’ve never done that, but I have always imagined that it’s similar.
I used to have a theory why it was so hot near the equator as a kid. I imagined the equator to be like a belt the earth was wearing way too tightly. And the equator was giving the earth a serious muffin top. And that caused the areas near the equator to bulge and the bulge made it so much closer to the sun, which made it hotter. I still like that theory.
I could tell when I was nearing the broken pipe because of the smell. It was intense. I was working with a crew of 25-30 men. And our contractors were all men. There was only one coed bathroom.
Once I hit mud I knew I was there. I reached down to scoop it out as I didn’t want to damage the pipe any further with my shovel. And that is when I realized; I had no gloves.
There were apparently no gloves anywhere on the job site. And the pipe had to be fixed immediately. As I said, there was only one bathroom.
I sucked it up and reached in with my bare hands, scooping out sewer mud. The sun was baking down on me. It was a miserable, smelly job. I gagged several times in the process.
Nothing will teach you plumbing faster than the desperation of the summer sun and no gloves. Unfortunately, someone wasn’t aware that our only bathroom was temporarily out of order. I had cut the pipe and was applying an epoxy to cap it off when someone flushed the toilet.
My face was only inches away from the pipe. I was deep in concentration, trying to fit it all together. A rush of water washed through. Like sewage waves on the beach. I got splashed all over the front of my shirt, face, and hair.
Nobody wanted to spend lunch next to me that day.