Sunday, July 19, 2009

In memory of Paul Hemphill (1936-2009)

Paul Hemphill, a true American, Scotch-Irish kinsman whom illustrated the southern, blue-collar man's views through his fifteen novels. He was a writer who made applications out of observations.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Conversation with Goo-Goo

On a bright, sunny day with the breeze blowing westerly from the ocean and across the black pothole filled parking lot on the tiny island of Offland, the geotech for the military base, LaLa, sits in his truck and stares disdainfully at the trailer where he is to meet the Offland government bureaucrat, Goo-Goo, for a pay evaluation conference. Any contracted government work in Offland comes with certain requirements, one of these requirements is that all workers must be paid a scale wage regardless of experience or education.

LaLa gets out of his white truck and walks across the parking lot toward the tan temporary structure while anticipating the best for himself and his family. He thinks silently, "Surely, these government officials will see the absurdity of paying me 14 carks an hour to do all of the civil engineering inspections and materials testing. Surely, they can see with such responsibility entrusted to me that I deserve the skilled workers wage of 23 carks. Thank God that I am not at the mercy of my employer, but have this option to appeal to the government, and I believe they will do the fair and honest thing concerning my welfare." While thinking such happy thoughts, LaLa walks briskly and happily up the ramp to the trailer door, and when finally arriving at the door of opportunity, he knocks confidently.

Offland government bureaucrat, Goo-Goo, a man of average height and weight sporting 1970s style mustache opens the door, and inquires to whom LaLa might be and to what his purpose of entering the temporary facility might be.

"I'm here to inquire about my pay," says LaLa.
"Okay, please have a seat." says Goo-Goo.
"What might your name be." asks Goo-Goo.
"LaLa, I am the materials tester and the construction inspector," says LaLa.
"Oh yes, what is your current pay rate?"
"Unskilled Laborer."
" And so it shall be." says Goo-Goo.
"Sir, I do all of the Civil Inspections, and have submitted multiple Inspection and
Safey Certifications, which demonstrate my skill. So, I'm asking you to reconsider and grant me 'skilled laborer' status."
"Absolutely not."
"Why not?"
"Because you do not coordinate into production."
"But I produce concrete, mortar and grout samples. I calculate and check densities of soils, and produce reports showing the success or failure.
"This is true, but nevertheless, you are still and unskilled laborer."
"Sir, I submitted certifications demonstrating my skill."
"Those certifications only demonstrate that you are skilled enough to be labelled unskilled."
" I am skilled enough to be unskilled?" says LaLa

"Sir, the guy who shoots the laser to measure the length of the piping in the building gets 25 carks an hour. How is pointing a laser more skilled than what I do?'
"It is."
"Sir, this is a military base in Offland, and we are currently at war with our nemesis, Onland.
Don't you worry that someone might use this for propaganda reasons."
"How so?"
"Well sir, it is common knowledge that most of government buildings in our Capital were built with slaves. You know a hundred and fifty years ago when slavery was legal. Do you want people to say in a hundred and fifty years from now that these two buildings were inspected by a 14 cark an hour slave. Even worse, if Onland finds out about this, they can say that Offland mistreats their citizens by subjecting them to great responsibility with very little pay."
"This is no concern to me. You see, your just not important enough for anyone to pay attention too."
"But if someone did?"
"Did what?"
"Pay attention to this absurdity?"
"It won't happen. Now take your 14 carks and be happy that you aren't unemployed like ten percent of this country. Dismissed."
"Government Bureaucrat Goo-Goo."
"You are F------ stupid."
"That is the nature of bureaucracy. Have a nice day," said Goo-Goo mockingly.

As LaLa opens the door to leave, Goo-Goo sits sipping his tea and thinking about how to do nothing for his own 60 cark an hour paycheck. The rest of the day for Goo-Goo would be an hour or two of Sudoku, sitting and sipping. While he sat, LaLa labored at the site and fretted about how he was going to get enough money to feed dinner to his kid this evening.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Conversation with Top Boy and his Behemoth Bellow Part I

Top Boy was the jankest superintendent that Nattahnam Construction ever had. He was a bald man of wide girth whom had the urge to set authority and tempo around the construction site. He wore a green safety vest with designer safety glasses and used his shiny company GMC truck for transportation to and from the job-site, and he would Armor-All the truck's tires nightly.

Top Boy had a tendency to use too much peripheral vision while wearing his silvery safety glasses. He spent most of his time on the building pad looking out of a corner of his eye and never looking directly ahead. A reasonable assumption would have been that he looked out of the right corner and then the left corner with both eyes, however, Top Boy had skilled himself over his sixty plus years too look out of both corners simultaneously causing the persons that he was glaring at to ask the question, "What the F---?". Although no one ever saw him do it, many workers swore that he was capable of sending one eye circularly clockwise and the other circularly counter-clockwise, simultaneously. Kind of the same way Daffy Duck's eyes used to do, right after he stepped on a rake and split his jaw with the handle as it flew upward from the ground.

While he had the skill of Daffy in constructing commercial buildings, he had the skill of Donald Trump in surviving competent inspection or Project Manager Supervision. He attacked, then attacked again, then once more he would go at it. The more he could put people who observed and reported about him on the defensive, the less time and energy they had to report on him. Yeah, he was out to remove the agents of accountability, and he was going to succeed in this endeavor.

Before the project had started he had been warn by the Inspector that the demo of the building, which existed on the site before, had not been done correctly by Ack Ack Engineering, Demo & Fried Chicken Stand. Ack Ack was a place where you could get all the fried chicken that you could eat, and all the utility pipes and conduits that you didn't want buried in the ground where your once existed structure stood.

The first thing you do before constructing a building is to run dump truck's up and down to check the soil for suitability. The Inspector chose to do this with an open-ended dump-truck. Top Boy allowed him to do this until it showed unsuitable soils. When unsuitable soils were proven, Top Boy pulled out the rule book and quoted the phrase that only closed-ended dump-trucks be allowed. The Inspector said fine bring the closed-end truck in and we'll run it up and down. There was no truck with this attribute on-site, and Top Boy started berating.

"You needed to let me know in advanced that we would need this type of truck," said Top Boy, "You're causing me delays, who is going to pay for this?"
"An open-ended or a closed-ended truck is pretty much all the same," said the Inspector," Since, you know the rule book, why didn't you have one standing by?"
"It is your job to tell me. It is not my job to anticipate your needs." said Top Boy.
"My needs are satisfied." said the Inspector.
"But that's not what the rule says."said Top Boy.
"Then bring a closed-ended truck." said the Inspector.
"Who is going to pay for this?" said Top Boy
"Don't know, don't care. It is what it is. Have a nice day." said the Inspector.

Top Boy, a sufferer of high-blood pressure that was evident in the fact he did not drink coffee and smoked 3 or 4 cigarettes a day, was now at his full limit of patience.

"F--- you, " he said to the Inspector, " You need to let me know this in a timely fashion."
"Yeah, well my report stands, since we are going by the rule book, a building once stood on unnatural and compacted fill here. The rule book says remove all unnatural fill before constructing the building pad."
" Do you know how much extra dirt that will take?" said Top Boy.
"No, I don't but that is what the rule-book states, also the rule-book states remove all standing water from the pad and around the pad. So scrape that too. Thank you." said the Inspector.
"That's not your f----- call. The water will evaporate and soil will be fine. Can't you see we are at grade?"
"Rules are rules. Kinda the way, you quoted the rule about checking the suitability of soil." said the Inspector.
"Look, this costs time and money." says Top Boy.
"So you pull the rule-book out when you think it might cost you less time and money, and then you want to dispense with it when it costs you time and money. Interesting point." says the Inspector.

Like a dishonest cleric picking passages in order to manipulate the masses, Top Boy was going down a slippery slope into the bowels of abomination. Top Boy was a shacker, the type of superintendent that the inspector was to prevent from going forward. As the inspector wrote him up for these infractions, the inspector was fully aware that Nattahnam Construction was the one whom hired his firm, and he was fully aware that he was required to give latitude, as the company that he was to monitor was also his customer. Unfortunately, military contracts require a inspection company to monitor and report, however, the military is not the inspection company's customer. The builder is in fact the customer, and Top Boy was trying to get as much mileage out of this relationship that he could.