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View Diary: More Adventures Of The Phoneman (63 comments)

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  •  'Was a house carpenter for twenty years... (5+ / 0-)

    ...eventually ending up in business for myself with one part time employee.  Lousy economy, surplus of laid-off carpenters working under the table, prospects playing illegals against legals,... ah, the romance of self employment.

    But the most interesting part was in fact being a part of our customer's lives for a short time.  I've walked dogs, changed diapers, picked up kids at school, minded the chili, and taken wives to the ER...   all while replacing a bathroom, or a dishwasher, or adding a bedroom for grandpa, or adapting a home for a handicap.

    Those of us with dirt on the knees of our jeans and t-shirts know instinctively how two faced most folks are.   OK,... some folks.  They smile and say please when they need you to clear their clogged plumbing, then balk and choke when you present the bill.  You can see it on their faces; "how dare this dirty person ask for that much money!"   The manner in which one deals with such customers defines how long one stays in business.

    I work fixing toys for the 2% now.  Nobody NEEDS a yacht.  They have one because they WANT one.  Oddly, I get more respect and less crap at bill time with this crowd.  There's less competition, too.  

    ...but I kinda miss the chili.

    •  I have a similar history in the trades. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rashaverak, DuzT

      Except I started out as a yacht carpenter and rebuilt a sailboat that I took from Maine to Florida. One thing led to another and I ended up doing a lot of work some serious yachts. The fat cats liked my work and had me work on their houses, mostly building casework and furniture. They always paid without a blink. Most of them were in awe of someone who could create functional things in three dimensions. They thought I was some sort of practitioner of lost arts and would pass me around to their friends. "Bob, I'd like you to meet my carpenter...." Nice work and the money was good. But I couldn't take living in south Florida and headed back west and being a self employed house carpenter in a semi-rural area. Never changed any diapers but became good friends with some of my customers. Moved on to being a general carpenter and ended up supervising commercial construction projects in Alaska 30 years ago. Haven't left yet.

      •  We ARE practitioners of the lost arts. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        realalaskan, DuzT, BlackSheep1

        ...and they're getting "lostier" by the day.

        The job of old guys like us is to train a younger generation, work with them, nurture them, teach them some of the tricks we learned the hard way.

        Fun we've come and gone from opposite directions.
        I don't miss house carpentry much at all.  But I'd like to build our retirement home.  I think I've still got it in me.

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