Monday, February 17, 2014

I duped myself by mistake. Here's today's post

One morning many years ago I walked up to a constriction site and looked at the boss man and introduced myself.

"What can you do for me?" he asked.

"I can form, frame, sheetrock, roof and finish," I replied.

"We'll see about that," he said. "Put on your tools and start putting together that wall."

I did just that. I buckled on my tool belt and started framing out a wall. I was done before noon and the rest of the crew who were doing other things came by and we stood the wall. I wandered over to the other side of the deck and started building the other wall and shortly after I was told to break for lunch.

It was there I was told I was now making $15 an hour which was pretty close to union scale for a carpenter at the time. He said he paid every two weeks.

Come payday I looked at my check and my brow furrowed. I did a little quick math and found he had paid me $17.50 an hour. I asked him if there was a mistake and he snapped back at me that he knew how to count and grinned.

"You're worth it," he said. I worked for the guy off and on for a couple of years until I moved. It seemed that because of him I was usually busy. He was a pretty straight shooter.

I suppose there isn't a whole lot to this story except for one thing. I went to work for this guy and based on my abilities, my willingness and fairly cheerful attitude, he paid me a wage based on market value at the time.

Construction was booming and there was a shortage of carpenters out there and I was skilled enough to be marketable. He gave me the raise in my first paycheck because he wanted to keep me as he figured someone would come along and offer me more than the $15 an hour he had hired me at. 

I would imagine that if there wasn't a lot of residential construction going on at the time I would not have gotten the job or if I had it would have been for less money. It's called supply and demand.

I had another friend that was pretty envious because he didn't have a whole lot of marketable skills but was a quick study and was willing to work. I mentioned hm to my boss and he told me to have the guy drop by in a couple of days when we were starting another apartment unit. I did and he was hired as a laborer for considerably less than I was making.

It didn't take this guy long to start learning the carpentry trade and he started getting raises based on what he was able to learn and apply. I guess he eventually worked his way up to $15 an hour. 

By that time I was lead man and making $20 an hour. That's because the boss could leave me in charge while he drummed up other work and know the job would be done. In 1984 a pay rate of $20 an hour was nothing to sneeze at.

He bought his hand tools and started building walls and decks with us when he got ahead of hauling the lumber for us. When we were done with that apartment four-plex he was considered to be a pretty good hand because he had made the effort to learn and become marketable.

In the business of life it is all about marketability and the ability to do a job. Little else matters. This guy was no different than most contractors. He was looking for people that could make him money and he was willing to pay people that could simply just to keep them.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

1 comment:

  1. Back in the construction boom of the 90's, a lot of the contractors became money over quality, especially in my area. I had a number of friends who had skills but had a lot of issues getting a decent wage. Most contractors seemed to be hiring illegal immigrants who were willing to work for next to nothing. (A few contractors would even contact Immigration on their own workers to get out of paying them at the end.)

    I will state that a lot of the illegal workers did really good jobs. (Many were here to give their families a better life back home.) Unfortunately, some did poor jobs and combined with the contractors trying to cut costs at every corner... Well, here it is a decade plus out and a lot of those homes had substandard construction or substandard materials.

    Sometimes my friends found some good contractors to work with. But when quality construction was underbid by contractors lacking ethics...