Back in my university days I worked as a roofer in the summers between semesters.
It was a good job as far as summer jobs go. I could always count on losing all the beer weight from the previous semester, a nice tan and of course going back to college ripped. (Well at least in my mind I was) I had originally gotten the job because I wanted to supplement (yes I said supplement) my income. I was working at RADIOSHACK and was making about 7$ an hour. This roofing job paid 10$ so I jumped at the chance.
Prior to my first day, I knew I had to have some tools so I went rummaging in my dad’s tool area and found what I could use. For my seventh birthday I got a Jr. Woodworkers kit. It had a hammer, some nails and few other useful tools, I had to use this kit as my dad wouldn’t let me use his own tools as they were his and he didn’t want them getting lost or trashed.
I woke up that morning at 5:30 and as everyone who has had the experience of waking up WAY earlier then you want, it was really hard. Your body is doing everything in its power to get you back to bed. I struggled out of bed ready to start my first day of roofing.
The business worked like this, if you were standard roofing labor with no experience you had to wait outside for the crew chiefs to get their assignments. If there was work they came down and told you to get the trucks ready. If there was no work they told you to go home. On this day I got lucky, there was a giant project going on and they needed everyone. All of the crews were being assembled to finish this big job; Everyone from the College kids, the Meth addicts even THE MEXICAN crew joined us.
We moved out like a convoy, or rather a post-apocalyptic convoy with lots of ladders and weird looking people. The job site was pretty cool, they repaired massive diesel earth movers which was kinda fun to watch on lunch. (It made me feel like a little kid) We worked on a massive commercial roof bigger than a football field.
So we begin tearing off the old commercial roof by ripping up every part of it, including the 4 by 8 sheets of plywood and replacing any that had been eaten up by mildew.
Noticing that it was time to hammer in some pieces of plywood, I decided “Hey! My turn to hammer.” “My daddy taught me how to hammer when I was a kid.” So I pulled out my trusty Jr. wood workers hammer and began hammering. “tink tink” said my hammer as the nail didn’t budge. I tried harder. A louder “Tink Tink” as my hammer politely tried to hammer in the THE LARGEST RAILROAD SPIKE.
I looked up and saw a couple white guys and ALL of the Mexicans laughing. It probably looked ridiculous and I’m sure I would have been laughing with them had I seen it. One of the Meth addicts took pity on me and gave me a MAN sized hammer that I used effortlessly to pound the spikes in.
After the incident with the large spike, we finished patching the roof and rolling out the mesh sheets. We sprayed the Tar and headed back to the shop.
It wasn’t until I got back to the shop that I realized my pants were saggy. After bending over all day, I knew – I KNEW my ass crack got sunburnt. SHIT!
I walked into the main warehouse and heard the incessant chatter of Spanish, followed by the “TINK TINK” sound made by my hammer. THEY WERE CRACKING JOKES AT MY EXPENSE! I turned the corner and 8 Mexicans were all laughing, at the sight of me they started laughing LOUDER! The one telling the story was a short fat guy named Jorge who ran up to me and grabbed my hammer, he held it high in the air for all to see. He said something in Spanish which I can only imagine translated as “HERE IS EXACLIBUR!” I smiled politely, deciding not to hate them because tacos are so delicious.
I went home and told my dad the story of what had happened. He laughed so hard he cried. Even to this day I can tell him that story and he’ll start laughing so hard tears will be streaming down his face.
I think I went to bed that night at 7pm, without watching Jeopardy or collecting my social security check because that’s how I felt.