So we are back to the second week of Story Time installment of this “satirical blog”. I invite you to share your own, as there is nothing better than looking back onto your own life stories and thinking “how in the f*** did this happen to me? At least I can tell the grand kids and be a cool grandpa!”
So, to set a scene. It is late 90’s, I am a freshly graduated civil engineer with a top-4 finish from a top-3 engineering school in the US. In my class of ~50 graduates, I am one of two who decided to go down and dirty and join a construction company, rather than a design house. First job was one of the many developments in the Orlando, Florida entertainment district – Disney, Universal, Sea World, you name it. It was booming, and I wasn’t the one to pass an opportunity of the lifetime. So I signed the papers, got the top starting salary in my class (36,300 p.a., gooooooood money) and was off.
Day 1 I report, get ushered around, shown the lay of the land, introduced virtually to the team, via an org chart, express interest in meeting the project manager, and am told: it is THE PROJECT MANAGER! You do not speak to him, he is not aware of your presence, avert your eyes if he is in the room, for he is the Lord!
The best I could do was the Site Superintendent, with whom we later had lots of fun playing poker. But on that first day, I got to meet Jim* (all names are changed because it is customary, and they are all dead, so as not to hurt feelings).
So, I am walked into Jim’s office. Jim was the kinda guy who smoked the cheapest, nastiest, stinkiest cigars, because he claimed that the workers will smell the smoke 15 minutes beforehand, and 30 minutes after, so they will work harder thinking he was still around. Jim looks at me, and asks, what is your name, son? I answer. He asks, where did you go to uni? I answer. Then he asks, do you jerk off? I am stunned, being the wet behind the ears professional, but respond yes. He says, good, at least I know you are not a god damn liar! End of the conversation, off I go to work.
Once you are in the wider workforce, there are other hazing techniques. Hey, Mark, go get me a 2×4 stretcher! (2 inch x 4 inch being a standard measure of wood) – fell for that one. Hey, Mark, go to Home Depot (USA version of Bunnings) and get me a 5 gallon bucket of green slack, but don’t get the blue one – fell for that, too. Hey, Mark, go get me a 12 inch raping tool – got clued in on that one – joke being you are sent all around the site from one foreman to the next, who are all in on it, until you get to Bill*, a midget with a beard so thick, all you can see is his eyes and nose, and he unzips. Fun!
Next job, we had George*. George was an ex-Hells Angels bikie, 6’4″ (tall), 300 pounds (big), 5 kids, 4 teeth. Did a 12-year stint in federal prison for running guns across state lines. Nicest guy, if you got the balls to get to know him, which I did, and we had a lot of fun bikie runs from Orlando to Daytona, but that is another story. So George finally figured out what causes kids, and got a vasectomy. And it didn’t go as well as planned. George being George, he let some boys on site know about the procedure, and when he got back he was sore for some time. So he got a nickname, which stuck, as Cowboy George, because he was shooting blanks. He was pissed at first, but in a few years got to embrace his new nickname.
So by now you get to see the fun stuff that went on in the Florida construction world, and the interactions between us.
Which brings us to the story. I linked the official newspaper article so you don’t think I am making this all up.
On another job we had this guy, Jim (James officially, to us known as Jim) Wheeler (real name – see the link). Yet, what the newspaper doesn’t tell you, is the best part.
You see, Jim was the sort of a guy who always had his best intentions at heart, but always managed to fuck it up. We all know those people. Jim would go on a bender on a Tuesday night, and be at the job site at 6:30 in the morning behind a front-end loader to do what needed to be done to get the crews going.
Now, I have been at the wheel of that machine, and it requires full concentration sober. And Jim was truly upset if he got pulled from behind the wheel and got put on the shovel or sent home, because all he wanted to do was to contribute. Jim loved his job, he loved his crew, it was most of his life. Aye, he cherished his job!
So one day Jim, for whatever reason, could not reconcile his bank accounts. This resulted in a bank calling for a repossession of his car, which was duly towed, leaving Jim with no means to get to and from work. Jim decided that the best way for him to make sure he was at work in the morning was to sleep in a 60 inch pipe stored on site, which he managed for a week or so.
He got found out by the Site Superintendent, who was the God’s voice on Earth (see above), and was told that it wasn’t going to cut it. So Jim made his way to his home base (~45min drive from the site), and decided to get his car back!
His car was financed through a local bank, so Jim thought that his local branch of the bank would have the loan papers there. Again, he wanted to be able to get back to work, that was his motivation! He did not know, or did not think that the actual papers were held in some sort of office a thousand miles away. So Jim walks into the bank, goes to the teller, and demands his loan papers back. He has a Snickers bar in a paper bag to make his point. The teller shits themselves and explains to Jim that the papers ain’t there. So Jim says, give me all your cash, and walks out. Cops can’t find him. Jim vanishes! But he reports to work.
A few weeks after, as the cash has dried out, Jim goes back. To the same bank. To the same branch. With a Snickers bar in the paper bag. Robs them again, and walks out again. Cops are looking, but can’t find the robber.
Later in the day they get him. Jim went to the local bottle shop, got whatever he got, got drunk and passed out in a public park on a bench. Local patrol picked him up with a paper bag stuffed with cash.
Jim got 20 years in federal prison for two bank robberies.