For the past three summers, I have been on an interior paint crew at my school. The first year there were three of us. Since then we have been four.
School teachers need money in the summertime. All told I have made about $10,000 on summer paint crew. It's a 40 hour week at $13 an hour, beginning at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 2:30. We clock in with the janitorial staff, down in the boiler room.
The "leader" of our paint crew was a teacher who was quite happy to be the leader. He had worked on the crew before any of the rest of us signed on. And he did show us how to be efficient painters. I have used his techniques on my own home.
For three summers I have worked affably with these people. (The other three are all men.) One of them is a high-volume Trump supporter, and I even got along with him. (Changed subject to Phillies/Eagles/Flyers when he started sounding off.) Our camaraderie was such that, yesterday morning, I had one of the school secretaries take a photo of the four of us, since the "leader" and I don't plan to return next year.
We had two days left on the calendar.
There was a heat advisory in effect, and the room we were working in had no air conditioning.
The "leader" set an objective that was rigorous beyond necessity. I think he wanted to get the room done before he stayed home on Friday the 31st.
We were working right next to the principal's office. The principal's secretary was right on the other side of the wall.
Quitting time is 2:30. At 1:45 our leader grew angry with us, as we were moving slower than he thought we should be moving (during a heat advisory, at the end of a long day). It was apparent to me that, while he had kept an affable demeanor, our "leader" was dissatisfied with our swiftness in general. It was evident, in fact, that he had long harbored unspoken negative opinions about our abilities.
I'm 59. The other guys are 55 and 35.
Anyway, when the "leader" lit into us, it sparked an amazing shouting match, full of expletives, between himself and another of the men. Wow. If the "F" bomb could really explode, the school would be rubble.
You would never have known, even at lunch time on this day, that such rage was simmering in the room. But you know how it is with heat advisories, and people who set ridiculous goals for their own arrogant ends.
I don't fight, I fly. So when the shouting commenced, I picked up the brushes and the paint pails and went elsewhere to wash them. I stayed out of sight until past time to clock out, and then I went and clocked out ... and told the buildings & grounds supervisor that I wouldn't be back.
The unseemly fracas cost me $200 in lost wages, because I'm not working today or tomorrow. But if it had happened July 7, it would have cost me a lot more, because no one is going to act that way in front of me. I saw enough of that shit when I was a kid to last me 10,000 lifetimes.
Readers, I am a slow worker. I climb ladders very carefully, as I have a titanium hip and resulting balance issues. But I do climb the ladders, and I do try to do a thorough, steady job. I am beyond offended that this ersatz "leader" saw fit to criticize me ... my turn to curse ... like a whiny little bitch. He is the one who told me to join the paint crew, and sold it to me by telling me it wasn't such hard work!
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard place in my heart for people who insult me, shout at me, and throw things at me. I have been friends with this "leader" for eight years. Today, and going forward, he is a member of my bargaining unit, and nothing more. This man will not apologize. It is not in his nature. But even if he does (and I would accept with gentility), the veil has been torn asunder. Friends, never again.
Last year I was in tears when paint crew ended, because we had such fun. This year, same people, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. And I used this day off to clean my house from top to bottom, and to write this blog post.
Next summer I plan to run a lemonade stand. With wealthy new neighbors all about, I should really make bank.