As some of you know, I grew up in a little town in northwestern Nebraska. Chadron was your stereotypical Andy-of-Mayberry town with only one stoplight and still only has one to this day. Frankly, it was a great place for a kid to grow up. Our mothers did not have to worry when we left on our bikes to pedal to the state park nine miles away for a day of swimming and fishing. It was a really carefree existence that we who are parents today have never had the freedom to enjoy.
Recently, someone from Chadron started a group on Facebook entitled, “You know you are from Chadron if …” and I gotta tell you, for a two- or three-week period I was totally addicted. The first thing I did when I came home from work was to check to see what new postings there were that day. In just over three weeks, there were more than a thousand members-pretty impressive for a town that has fewer than 6,000 residents. The memories this group brought back to mind was astounding.
The stories of teachers both good and bad, the tales surrounding the best band to ever come out of the area, Crazy Louie, and tales about everyone’s favorite Chief of Police Jerry Crews-let’s just say I needed a seat belt to stay in my chair while reading some of the posts! The one thing that was strangely apparent while reading all of these collected memories is that they were all funny. A comedian once noted that tragedy plus time equals comedy and I think he’s right. So even though every single student who had to endure one of Mr. B’s sadistic detentions can look back on it now and laugh (but at the time they were pretty uncomfortable).
Since I had so much fun reliving my some of my younger years scrolling through pages of the aforementioned site, I thought you all may find some solace and a grin or two if we did the same thing here. I put out feelers to some of my pals, the “Drywall Dogs,” asking for their input on the story you are now reading, “You know you are a Drywaller if …” I hope you enjoy.
You know you’re a drywaller if ...
… your shoulder is shot well before you turn 50.
… your beer of choice after work is a Foster’s oil can cause it takes one of that size to wash down all the dust.
… you look back at your career and think, “If I had kept all those empty buckets and sold ‘em now I’d have enough to retire.”
… you have hung and finished more tubs/showers in your career than you’ve taken showers in your life.
… the 1/8 [inch] scale marks on your tape were unreadable years ago. Now the 1/4 [inch] marks have begun to blur.
… you remember back to the good old days when you first started hanging and the electrical layout for each room was the same. One switch, one light fixture and one outlet per wall.
… you have made more money since retiring.
… the first time you look at a print the first thing you look for is 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch followed by that universal adjective expressed with joy or grief.
… you know that porta-buckets came before Porta-Johns.
… you know that an old door and four buckets is called a coffee table and that an old door and 12 buckets is a dining room table with seating for four.
… you know what the capacity of a 5 gallon bucket is-14 beers and one 10-pound bag of ice.
… you are from North Carolina if you know that four buckets and two boards are tar heel hanging bucks and two buckets with lids are hillbilly stilts.
… you know that a station wagon or an open pickup bed can double as portable scaffold.[Editor’s note: Don’t try this kids!]
… you use 1/4-inch screws to fix anything broken in your house and hang pictures.
... when today (Friday) you finished hanging 380 boards and the super tells you, “I need to have it spackled by Monday because I have the painter scheduled.”
... the builder says “I’ll pay you Monday” and it’s a month before your bill is settled.
… you know you are a drywaller when the drywall is ready for paint and the painter has a week left on another job or is getting over a drunk and tells the contractor that the drywall isn’t ready to paint and then uses a 200-watt bulb and puts marks all over your rock. Grrrrrr!
… once the kids are grown, the wife quits making supper, because she never knows when you’ll be home.
… you have to bang your hand against the headboard to stop the tingling and get the blood flowing to your fingers at night.
… you ever cooked a three course meal on the job on top of a high hat or in front of a salamander.
… you ever conducted a funeral service and buried your favorite 6-inch knife because you were a bonehead and tried to open a bucket with it and it snapped right at the edge of the handle!
... you can remember back to when houses had more boards in them than sticks of bead.
… you ever worked for a drywall contractor who would fight to the death over paying you an extra $25 for high work but would willingly lay $100 on the bar that night and buy drinks for everyone!
… you knew a finisher who would burn a hole through the front of his mask so he could smoke while sanding (RIP Fritz!).
… you ever heard the following statement, “I realize you are going to lose $200 a unit but there are 1,200 of them lined up, you’ll make it up in volume.”
… you have had that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you hear the crack while standing on a 2x10 in the middle of an open foyer and have to ride it all the way to the ground while holding a full pan of mud!
… you have ever used puddle water to mix your mud!
… you blew out your L5 disc while carrying a 100-pound propane tank though a snowdrift.
… you buy Cornhuskers lotion by the gross and the cracks on the ends of your fingers never quite heal all the way.
… you coat bead in your sleep.
… the first thing you do when you go to someone’s home is to check out their finish job!
… you ever knew a rocker who would yell out measurements to his partner using football player’s names. “A Jerome Brown plus 5 inches would of course be 99⅝ inches.”
… you remember when mud came in a cardboard box and you had to have a trash can to mix it in but you always saved the box and plastic liner for that special use!
… you know better than to tip over a glue tube sitting in the corner!
… you ever fell off your stilts because you stepped on the cut off tip of a glue tube.
… you have scars on the bottom of your feet from stepping on drywall nails.
… the wall art at your partner’s house was made from tape roll centers.
… you ever used the pack strip to tie back your ponytail.
… you have ever “borrowed” milk crates from a convenience store to use on the job.
… you know that the proper name for a bucket with a stick attached is a “steppy.”
… you ever used quickset to Bondo your Jeep!
I hoped you enjoyed these odes to the job! Life as a drywaller is a thankless, dirty job-why hasn’t Mike Rowe done a show on us yet? But, as in nature, that which does not kill me makes me stronger and that applies here. Drywallers are a tough bunch and have had to adapt to their environment. Breathing seven metric tons of dust would kill the average Joe, but we just laugh it off-between coughs.
I would like to thank Mike G, Don C, Jason L, Steve H, Robert D, Clyde F, and the numerous other nameless Dogs who helped contribute to this compilation.
Remember: Life is like an empty box of mud, you never know what you’ll find inside!
Adventures in Drywall: You Know You're a Drywaller if ...
October 24, 2011