I’m gonna let yis in on a little secret – I don’t like workin’. The idea of gettin’ up early in the mornin’, goin’ to a job ya don’t really care about, workin’ for a boss who’s probably a bit of an idiot, comin’ home sore and tired, then gettin’ up the next mornin’ and doin’ it all over again ain’t too appealin’. Especially when the amount of money ya do it for is barely enough to pay the rent and get a week’s worth of groceries, even if you gotta make it stretch for two or three weeks. And that’s if ya let the power bill and phone bill go a few weeks late until you can catch up.
The past few years, Minnie’s brother Cyril has been gettin’ me on with the fella he works for doin’ construction stuff. If he gets a big job or somethin’ he’ll take me on for a few weeks at a time and put me on the books so I can get my stamps for unemployment. It’s good of him to do it, and I’m grateful for the work, but it’s not a regular pay at all, and sometimes we’ll go a whole month or more with only what Minnie takes in from her part-time cleanin’ job.
And that’s tough for me, because a man is supposed to provide for his family and there’s times when I got no work. So that’s how I end up doin’ these little odd jobs here and there. They’re not easy to find sometimes, and ya gotta sniff them out. I’m always stoppin’ to read the bulletin boards at the grocery store and the corner stores. They say things like: “Wanted: Someone to dig five holes for fence posts” or “Looking for man with truck to haul roofing debris” or “Need help moving – $20 for two hours work” or “Older lady looking for someone to put together entertainment unit $10.”
I done all of them and all kinds of other little jobs like them. I learned a good lesson when I helped buddy with the fence posts: Make sure you agree on the price up front. That fella, I spent four hours diggin’ holes for him and he gave me $30. I figured it was worth at least $50, but we never exactly came right out and agreed on a price before I started, so in the end I had to take the $30 even though I wanted to clock his lights out.
The worst is when ya work for one of them people who just loooooves bein’ the boss. And that’s what I ran into last week.
I was down the club watchin’ the hockey game and before it came on I overheard this fella at the next table say him and his buddy were supposed to help this moving company the next morning, unloadin’ trucks for some big antiques auction. But I guess one of the fellas drove a nail through his foot and they had to find somebody else. I was thinkin’ of Gradin’ Day comin’ and everything, so I piped up and said I’d love to have a day’s work. So buddy tells me to be at this church hall in Sydney bright and early the next morning.
Now, I don’t need to tell ya, if you’re watchin’ the the Stanley Cup finals down the club chances are you’re gonna swallow a few suds before the night is over. But the truth is, I really didn’t have that much, just a couple of glasses of draft from Cyril’s pitcher, because I didn’t have any money to get my own.
But anyways, a couple of beer, plus a late night, plus an early morning, and I wasn’t exactly full of get-up-and-go when I got to the hall. So I was kinda yawnin’ and rubbin’ the sleep out of my eyes when I walked through the door.
All right, this young fella is just sayin’ to the other three guys there, we got a lot of stuff to unload today and we don’t have time for nonsense. If any of yis don’t look like ya want to be here or don’t look like you’re workin’ hard enough, ffffffpt, he said, hitchin’ his thumb toward the door.
I knew it was gonna be rough. They had us go up on the big moving truck, carry down each thing – tables, chairs, great big dressers, you name it – and then we’d carry it into the hall and the old guy named Charlie who was organizin’ the whole thing was supposed to tell us where to put each thing down. The only problem was, every time we’d come in with somethin’, he’d be at the other and of the hall straightenin’ boxes or lookin’ at his clipboard. So we’d end up standin’ there, holdin’ all the big heavy stuff, waitin’ for the old guy to come look at it.
After just the first hour, the four of us were pretty pooped. So one of the other guys starts headin’ to the bathroom to get a drink from the tap.
Where are you goin’? Charlie yells. Nobody goes to the bathroom or gets a drink until the job is finished. Now get back to work.
Now, I know we could really use the money, but I have a hard time puttin’ up with somebody who treats people like that.
Well, I said, lookin’ at him – As the work bench said to the jigsaw, buddy – You’re a tool.
And I left. I’d rather be poor and decent than rich and rotten any day. The poor young fella didn’t even get to say fffffpt and point with his thumb.