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Monday, August 24, 2009

Bottlecaps

I found the cap to a liquor bottle on the side of the road recently and it made me remember two men who were incredibly influential in my life.



Right after graduation I started working for an earthwork construction company and stuck with them for 7 years. I started as a flagger and moved my way up to Jr. Foreman, which pretty much meant I helped lay out the jobs and told the idiots where to dig. It was great; I had a fantastic tan, was well toned and worked with men all day long. My foreman and the backhoe operators were my favorites; they kept an eye on me and made sure I didn’t get into too much trouble. Aside from Doug the Dub (hey, can you grab that right handed hammer for me? Uuuh, I only found this one, will this work?), gooey Louie (who ran the tack truck), Jim ‘the fat woman lover” and various other clowns, these men had a true influence in my life. They taught me that life is short so do what you want when you can, a job should always ‘look good from your back yard’, beer thirty comes in the afternoon after you’ve tried to get things done and when it’s cold drink brandy. We also worked 60 hours a week and got the job done on time and it was always perfect. I miss these men greatly.



Bucky was in Vietnam and was missing a finger and had a fake knee to prove it. He was the best backhoe operator I’ve ever met (he ran a Case DROTT, for those in the know) and could take a dime off a grade stake with the backhoe bucket. Once he placed a dead woodchuck on the roof of my car but didn’t realize my sunroof was open and the blood from it would drizzle it’s way onto my front seat. He ate either ‘negg or ‘nonion every day with lunch. We once placed a chicken that was a week older than the ‘use by’ date under the seat of a truck belonging to a guy we didn’t like much, and the idiot truck driver never figured out ‘what that smell was’. We had a lot of fun. He also loved his family enough to make sure everyone knew it. I think it was because he had come close to death during the war and relished the fact that he was still alive.



Win was a 60 something salt who started working when he was 13, right after he dropped out of school. He was our Foreman and wore the title well. He had two sons older than I was and a younger son right about my same age that was completely disabled. His wife took care of their youngest all day and he stepped in at night. Win taught me how to swear like a pirate, read job plans and coordinate the guys to make sure the job was getting done right. He also taught me how to determine the best timeframe to ask the guys who wanted to pitch into the ‘beer-thirty’ account. He was awesome, and in great shape for his age. He loved life in general, and was a smart and capable man. He taught me to enjoy children while you can, you never know how close you are to loosing everything.



One cold, November afternoon we found ourselves on a jobsite that was almost downright unbearable. It was windy, snowing and bitter. Bucky, Win and I jumped in the company truck and ran down to the local liquor store. Bucky went in and came out with a 5th of Apricot Brandy. We drove back to the job site, which was well out of eyesight, and Bucky cracked the jug. He took a big swig, rolled down the window and threw the cap out into the woods. “Whoops!” he exclaimed, “I guess we’ll just have to finish it now.” He passed the bottle to me. “Are we really going to finish this?” I asked. “We need to get this job done before there’s too much more snow!”. Win said “hurry up, drink and pass it on. That job will still be there next spring”. I did as I were told. I’m not sure what we talked about all afternoon, but I do remember that we laughed a lot and sure enough, we finished that jug.



We finished the job that following spring and it came out perfectly, as always. That day, I learned that sometimes in life you just have to throw the bottle cap away.

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