The clingon,or-the liar on the tower!




USS Farion

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

In the scaffolding industry the labor pool is a group that is out of the ordinary. It is not easy finding a person who feels comfortable at high places hundreds of feet off the ground and nothing to sit on but a pipe thats less than two inches diameter-no where really to stand but on a lip of metal that is attached to the pipe-it is no wider than five inches….and all this time until you get that pipe locked in with another your body is swaying in the wind and then after that pipe is locked you have to attach another and climb up on it and repeat the process over and over until you reach the top.
Each job would begin with a lead man who knew the parts and places they needed to go-this guy worked on the ground and ran the crew that fed the pipes to the men in the air-and some men that worked in the air only had one job…that was to hand the pipe up to the guy above who handed the pipe to the guy above him and up it went man after man-so it was not a job requireing any real skill….you just had to be able to handle the heigths.
The skilled part of the crew were the top guys-no pun intended,but these were the men who worked on the free moving pipe as it was built to its excess and maximum needed heigth and usually these guys were of a certain class of thier own and also a bit off the normal -after all no sane man is going to up up hundreds of feet with barely a place to stand….so you usually have one supervisor who has the layout of the scaffold and leads from the ground,and the guys that hand up the supplies one after the other and then the swingers at the top-the lead guys!
On this job in the photograph was a typical scaffold to do because of the frequenct need to pull a ship out of the water and into dry dock for repairs-the wiring on the main masts of the ships required inspection so we would be contracted to build these towers….we had seven days to put ont up,this one is over three hundred and eighty feet tall including the ship,and the ship is sitting on huge huge wood blocks. From the top you could see downtown Jacksonville 25 miles away.
Once each tower is built you could drive an automobile on it because it is that safe and sound-it is just the movement of them as it is constructed and the heigth that seperates the men from the boys.
Usually we’d start a job with the lead guys and build the base and then we would hire day laborers by the van load-usually 12 guys,and out of them you could weed out the clingons….the guys that showed a fear!
You pick one out in a minute-they hardly got out of the van and when they saw what it was all about the smart ones got right back on the van and admitted the climbing was a fear factor. Others acted the bad ass-and would say it didnt bother them but then once above solid ground you could see the way they locked onto a piece of pipe with thier legs and arms clinging for dear life….we weeded them off the job and into the van and the remaing few would be our crew.
One day the big owner of the out fit we built these for showed up with a kid about 21 or 22….he was all decked out in a special kind of hard hat and had this tool belt that no one had ever seen and the big boss said this kid had worked on oil fields in Alaska and had done pipe work-meaning they scaffolded inside of huge diameter pipes so maintainance could be done inside of them-or towers like smoke stacks,these would be scaffolded on the inside-a very tight hot place to work,and some of the towers would be several hundred feet tall-but they are a seperatte kind of scaffold because they stand solid from the base up-no swaying.
Our boss was proud of his find-told me what the lads resume said and how skilled he was….heck – his tool belt said all of that! None of us had ever even seen a belt like that more less the kind of tools he had.
The kid had an air about him-he was a pro,and no one had done it more than him???he stood on the ground for he first three hours on the job after the big boss had gone-bragging about building a scaffold here and putting one up there and how he worked in Saudi Arabia and all across the world and how he knew every piece and part and all the regulations….but he never got off the ground,he just kept telling any one who would give him a minute how good he was!
So-I finally told him….get up there and get that good to work!
Thats when he got this ashen look on his face and mumbled something about how he had to get the feel and energy of the job….and I said it would only happen when he got up there and showed us his stuff.
He was a clingon…got up alright,but once there his arms and legs locked on for dear life-his eyes went straight up looking into the sky,he was that afraid. The man was such a cling on that a second laborer had to be sent up to fill his place while another guy went up to loosen up our man and unlock his arms and legs and work him back down to the ground.
Once down his attitude came back and he started back on how great he was-and then he lost every bodys interest. He was so big headed he totally forgot we had to untie his arms and legs and smooth him down….his explaination was that twenty feet in Alaska was different then twenty feet on this job????
I fired him.

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