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“The next day and the days after that next day at work were
gruesome. I may have been making three dollars and forty-five
cents an hour, but no amount of money could compensate the
physical pain and misery of that job. Shovelling gravel into those
inanimate buckets, hour after hour, day after day for the hottest
summer on record was pure unadulterated torture. I was
dreaming of them. My bucket list! And the only sound heard,
besides Zal’s taunts for more “fucking pitch” being the grunts
and groans from our bodies and the huffs and puffs of our
laboured breaths with every shovelful of gravel taken. Sweat just
poured down every crease and crevasse of our beings. Taking
stints up on the flat roof itself provided no relief with a hot
glaring sun beating down mercilessly on our lithe bodies. The
humidity was a killer. The hard physical work and the potential
for dehydration made it harder and harder to keep our pants
above the waist. As roofers we had the plumber’s crack in
spades. It was kind of comical watching everyone on the crew
continuously pulling up on their pants or tightening their belts as
if stricken by a nervous twitch. On top of that, by the end of the
day, our calloused hands were the worse for wear as newly
formed blisters would crack, then burst, then sting, as the flayed
skin would shed and coagulate with the pus and the blood, which
became an ugly brownish red in colour. The soles of our work
boots expanded vertically, about two to four inches, as the tar and
gravel stuck to the undersides of our boots as we walked around
by the area of the hot tar kettle, the conveyor belt, and the adjacent
pile of gravel. It would take us some time to scrape the
gooey mess off of our boots at the end of the day. But we felt so
tall in our high gravel heels!
“End of the day? Sore and bruised and filthy dirty in sweat
and dust. The long ride home on the bus and subway, lost in
thought, dead to the world, and praying hard and fast for rain on
the morrow or watching the clock, counting hard the seconds,
minutes, and hours before the whole miserable routine would
repeat itself. Please, dear God, let it rain tomorrow for when it
rained roofers didn’t work. But of course it was Murphy’s Law
and not God’s law that ran the day for it only rained on the
“The summer finally ended. I was in great shape physically,
well-tanned, and had a few bucks saved in the bank. I helped out
at home financially, naturally, but I didn’t have to give the
majority of my earnings to my parents as I no longer went to the
Catholic private high school for boys. I thanked God for that!
And looking back on that hot and humid summer, my first real
well-paying job, I could have easily said that life was good. In
some respects that summer was Pitcher (sic) Perfect.”
Life is Good – on weekends at least!
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