Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Love My Job

As many of you know, I'm in the construction business. More specifically I'm a self employed general contractor. I've worked for myself for nearly a dozen years now, and quite frankly I wouldn't have it any other way. Unless of course I was independently wealthy, in which case I wouldn't work at all.

By the way, who are these yutzes that say, "If I won 60 million in the lottery I wouldn't quit my job. I really like it, so I'd keep on working there."

I say to them, "Are you out of your flippin' skull?"

I too really like what I do, but if somebody dropped that kind of money in my pocket, my tool belt would get retired quicker than a Big Mac sitting in front of Rosie O'Donnell. Yes, you could pretty much expect to find me on some white sand beach with a little umbrella sticking out of my Dr Pepper can awaiting my next massage.

"What's that? It's time for my afternoon rubdown?" sounds much better than, "Sure ma'am I'd love to come over to your house in the middle of the freezing cold rainy season and build a deck on the back of your house."

Oh yeah, my job would be a thing of the past!

Well back to reality. To date nobody has offered to give me a big pile of money to spend for them and since I haven't bought a lottery ticket in about fifteen years, winning it probably is out of the question.

This brings me to the original point of this story. During the summer months I typically paint the exteriors of a few houses. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I'm pretty good at it and as a side benefit, the money's not bad either.

What I don't care for are ladders. . . Well maybe that's not an accurate statement. Climbing ladders might be more appropriate. You see I do not like heights at all. To put it mildly, they scare the crap out of me.

I've realized it's very difficult to paint the outside of a house with both of my feet on the ground at all times. In fact, it's down right impossible to do on a two story home.

(Mom, you may want to stop reading now.)

So, I do what I don't necessarily want to. I climb twenty or thirty feet in the air and try to think "happy thoughts". This is much better than thinking about whether or not my body would bounce once or twice if I hit the ground or whether it would just go THUD!

I try to think about what Lisa will be making for dinner that night rather than, "I wonder if the life insurance coverage is enough?"

This past October I, along with my brother Mark, had a two story house to paint that had a bit of a twist to it. Most of it was pretty straight forward, but the front had a couple of features that required some 'special engineering'.

As you will see later, it had a tile roof. Please understand, waking on tile is an art form in itself. If you step on the wrong part, it cracks and does so with very little effort. Now, walking on tile with a layer of moss on it is just plain dumb. Fortunately the few remaining brain cells I have left kicked in and said, "don't even think about it."

The next part of the puzzle was the pitch or the slope of the roof. It had what is called a 8/12 pitch. This means for every eight inches of horizontal length it has, it rises by twelve inches. If you want a general feel for what this looks like take two pieces of paper, stand one up on its side and take the other, using the long side, and form a triangle from the top of the first piece to the table . This is roughly what the pitch of the roof was. If my directions didn't make since, just know it was steep, really steep!

Oh ya, did I mention the front lawn was soft? This meant using a lift was out of the question as it would have just sunk in, creating deep ruts in the front yard. This is not what I would call a problem. No, I thought of it as a challenge. "The house would not win," I declared.

Armed with this enthusiasm and my three remaining brain cells I set out to devise a plan to conquer the task at hand. DING! The light bulb went on, or maybe that was just the microwave, either way I had figured out my strategy.

Back my truck into the driveway and lay my 24 foot extension ladder on the roof and wedge it onto the end of the truck bed. This meant positioning the truck just right so that the ladder matched the angle of the roof perfectly. I would do this so the weight of my delicate frame would be distributed evenly over several feet as I climbed to my perch in the sky. Once at the end of this ladder I would still have another twelve feet to go to get to the top. This meant I'd have to take apart a second ladder and take it with me to the top of the first one. Piece of cake right? One small problem, I had to angle the first ladder across the roof to get to the side of the house in front of the soft lawn.

With that I give you the following two pictures:

(Mom, I know you didn't stop reading earlier, so I'll tell you now, don't look.)

These were taken from my brothers camera phone so the quality is pretty poor and the light is in the wrong position for a good shot, but I wasn't giong to hang out up there until everything was just so.

If I were rich would I quit my job?

You're damn skippy I would!


Hammer said...

I used to do the books and help quote for a siding business. I'm glad my work was on the ground because when looked up I saw some of those angles I about messed my pants.

We couldn't keep a crew for anything because the only people that would hang off a side of a chimney with a nail gun and a piece of siding were on drugs.

Your solution was pretty ingenius.
Glad you found a way to remain intact.

Jeff B said...

Hammer- Ingenius and insane both start off with the same letters. Coinsidence? I think not.

I want to hire a crew to do the work, but as you pointed out, it isn't easy to get qualified workers that aren't without issues.

Christinker said...

Too bad you couldn't rent a helicopter for the day and dangle in the air with your paint brush. It just seems easier.

Jules~ said...

well all I can say is bravo to you. I think it is really commendable what you do...jimmy rigging and everything

Kerri said...

I have a fear a bit of a fear of heights too....well, actually I think it is a fear of falling!

This looks a bit scary....hope you don't have anymore coming up like this!

Dana said...

Oh my ... I think it's time to start buying lotto tickets again!

buffalodickdy said...

Way to figure it out! Alot of money would allow me to do what I want, not what I have to...

Mel said...


*covering eyes*

TELL me there were mattresses on the ground behind that truck.

Leighann said...

My husband was a roofer for many years, he's afraid of heights, so I'd always hear horror stories when he'd get home!

The worst was sliding down a steep roof and having a centrail air conditioning unit cushion his fall!

Matt-Man said...

You are one genius mo-foe. Cheers!!

Psycho Mom said...

You're right, I didn't stop reading. Excuse me, I had to leave the room to throw up! Like so many things you boys did when you were growing up, which at times I wondered if any of you would do successfully and alive, I'm happy I heard about this after the fact. Floors, Jeff, think floors -- they don't require ladders.

"The Babe"

Gene Bach said...

Delicate frame...are those code words for big fat butt? Better you than me bro.

I'll tell you get that big pile of money and I'll help you spend it.

Oswegan said...

I'm with you. I'd drop my job like a hot rock if I struck it rich, and even if I get to the point where I don't need the same kind of money anymore.

Thanks for stopping by my new site today. We'll have to do coffee some time like you said.

p.s. I'm glad you enjoy your job.


Diesel said...

That's some scary stuff. The addition to our house is 8/12, and I decided to let some other idiot roof it. :)

Ron said...

Great post, Jeff!

It's funny, because I always said I would never live in a high-rise apartment buidling. And studio sits on the 21st floor overlooking the city.

I'm ok with heights as long as I'm enclosed...but when I'm out in the open...I don't think anyone wants to see my face!

More power to you, Jeff!!!

Real Live Lesbian said...

Shit fire and save matches!

I'm scared just LOOKING at that!

Desert Songbird said...

Just say no to ladders, just say no to ladders, just say no to ladders, just say no....

Jeff B said...

Christinker- I think yhou may be onto something.

Jules- Is that commendable or commitable?

Kerri- The falling part is what really freaks me out.

Dana- I might have to consider that.

Buffalo- Amen brother!

Mel- OK there were matresses, but they were made out of concrete.

Leighann- Ouch! that had to hurt.

Matt- Me and Wile E coyote. Super genius.

Mom- I knew you'd like this one, not. Trust me, I'm working on the floor business.

Jeff B said...

Gene- It's not limited to my butt. It's my big fat everything.

When I find the bag of money I'll come get you.

Oswegan- Good luck woth your photography. I'll be sure to keep tabs on you.

Diesel- Smart move my man. My idea of a roof is a 3/12. I want to be able to put a lawn chair up there and not worry about it tiping.

Ron- I'm sure you have a great view, but I'll just let you tell me about it thank you very much.

Real LL- I didn't know anybody outside of my family ever used that phrase. That was funny to 'hear' you say that.

Songbird- I like that mantra!

Travis said...


There's a very fine line between genius and are walking it and teetering in the wrong direction!

Marilyn said...

That looks like something Hubby would do.

Hubby has a buddy with his own scafolding and he used to try and save money by borrowing it but this stuff is held together with coat hangers and the floors are ladders with plywood laid on top. Now that I'm in charge, I rent scafolding when I need it, and not from the cheapest rental place either. I enjoy living enough that I'd like to keep it up.

Jeff B said...

Travis- Those pictures are a great reminder of why I am trying so hard to develop my epoxy floor coating business. No ladders required.

Marilyn- I feel your husbands pain. I mean that figuativly, hopefully not litterally

Roger said...

At least your working outside, I am usually working in someones cobwebby, dank, muddy, crawlspace, but it isn't always that bad sometimes my feet are soaking wet and a ground has been improperly installed on the plumbing "ZPPPF" my hair gets curly for free!

Anndi said...

You should also tell safety people (i.e. your reader here) not to read on... I'm not going to say anything.... but I'm frowning and shaking my finger at you...

Just tell me you had the emergency brake on the car and I'm not going to look again but you did brace the wheels and hide the key right?

The Teamster said...

WWTD (what would teamster do?)

Call my union steward (oh wait that's me?)
Call my business agent?
Call OSHA?
Call in sick?
Go home sick?
All of the above?

That's why i'm not self-employed.

Dr. Pepper? I'm a die-hard Diet Dr. Pepper drinker. They don't sell it in the Yukatan Penninsula of Mexico., so bring your own.

Jeff B said...

Roger- I find that shocking!

Anndi- You are a mom aren't you?

Teamster- Working for someone else definitely has its advantages.

No Dr Pepper down there? Bummer.

katherine. said...

what is it with Friends of Bill and Dr Pepper?

and why the e-ph didn't you get your other brother to paint that part of the house?