For the last five months, I’ve endeavored to bring you glimpses of my convoluted thought process and the subsequent chaotic results. This is not an issue of happenstance; I had recently sold off my excavating business in order to spend some much needed time with my family and to pursue this whole writing experiment. With the construction market being what it was, and continues to be, the decision to sell was timely, and the rewards I’ve gained in terms of being home more often are worth more to me than I could have hoped. By focusing primarily on my fire department career and my fatherhood-like responsibilities, I’ve been able to devote the time and effort my family deserves. That’s great. And when no one is around, I hammer out some verbal missives and hope that it brings you some laughs.
Another aspect of life that’s changed is re-focusing on being healthier and slightly less inclined to clutch my chest one day and drop dead (this would absolutely occur in the most embarrassing location possible). To that end, I signed up for a, um, cycling class at the Downtown YMCA and took up some yoga and pilates, just for good measure. This provides my co-workers endless entertainment. To have gone from running heavy equipment and shooting excavation grades to signing up for a “yogalates” class and claiming to want to get home “so I can write” has led some to question my very status as a man. By “some” I am also including “me”.
Dirt work was never a passion for me, though, not like writing is, and so it’s not as though I’m missing it that much. Sure, I miss my beloved Peterbilts and the excavator was a pretty damn cool machine to own. But I don’t miss the homeowners whining and chasing money down and getting back to the shop at weird hours and, worst of all, my oldest asking me why I’m never home. I miss hanging out with all my contractor friends and looking over a freshly graded site and knowing the job was done right. No matter how great it is to indulge the writing and get in better shape and all, I was missing working with my hands and smelling like diesel and dirt. I need that connection; to work with my hands, to shoot the bull with friends, to build something other than essays on the internet. I also need a way to pay for the ever elusive motorcycle.
And so a simple request from a co-worker was the genesis for my return to manhood. He asked if I have a welder, and the answer is yes, of course. He then asked if I could weld up a new receiver on his lawn mower trailer; I hate to say no, and he’s a friend, and I thought “what the hell, why not?” Within a few days his trailer was in my shop, the Outlaw Trucker was onsite to supervise and drink breakfast PBR’s and I was back. Back to building something. Back to creating. Back to choking on fumes and smelling of grime. In short, I was happy, and I’d found my religion again. I could take on small welding gigs, have Outlaw co-fabricate, and who knows? At the very least I’d have new material to write about, if nothing else. As for payment, I’ve decided to throw out a coffee can, and whatever folks feel the work is worth, that is what they should throw in. Coffee and beer are also accepted forms of currency. I threw the word around the firehouse wires and have had more work already materialize outta thin air. It turns out quite a few people need just a little help mending metal. I’m glad to have some side work / motorcycle money and the company all my friends bring to the shop. We drink strong mud and barley sodas, discuss the state of affairs, cuss the ignorant and praise the worthy. All in all, a pretty good way to spend some time. The re-MANonization process has begun, and I’m all for it…..as long as it doesn’t interfere with spin class.