Winter Layoff Chapter 14

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Winter Layoff
Chapter 14 of 21
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Time frameJanuary 2006
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  • Aaron, an Amish construction team supervisor


Jim was awakened by a roaring generator, and it took a little time for him to remember that the whole bunch from Spearfish Lake had just appeared late in the afternoon with a house kit, that he stayed up late talking with Rachel, and then she kissed him....

As he got dressed he realized that it was time to do a run to the nearest laundromat... Jim and Bob headed over to coffee and breakfast, all cooked by Bud and his crew.

Randy appoints Jim as site superintendent, and himself as ...just the truck driver and a carrier of heavy objects'. Jim objects as he feels inexperienced as anything but an equipment operator, and that Mike ought to be the one running this. Randy says again that this is your job and that he has to get your feet wet sometime. He continues by pointing out that Mike knows concrete and footers pretty well, but he’s not exactly a carpenter, either. We already talked it over and agreed that this is going to be your job. After all, it's his Aunt and Uncle's house...

Russ points out that the truck is loaded so it’ll be more or less in the order we need it ... 'Like, we’ve got cement, forms, rebar, and the cement mixer right on the tail, since Ken said we were going to have to pour pilings first ... and we threw in the auger for the backhoe.

Jim started to realize that Randy wasn’t kidding when he’d said the job was his to run. Over the next few minutes he assigns Bob to unload the cement and the auger, Ken is to locate where the the holes for the pilings will be drilled, others are assigned to start putting together the roof trusses from pieces that had been precut back in Spearfish Lake. Mike is assigned to ride herd on the concrete and foundations. Mike asks about water to mix the concrete and volunteers that they brought a shallow well pump, a drill point, and well pipe for it. In less than an hour they had water! Bob had used the backhoe to push twenty-four feet of well pipe into the ground, the little shallow-well pump was hooked up to it, with power from an extension cord run to the motor home's generator.

Meanwhile Jim and Randy unrolled a big roll of prints that Ken had provided on to the food serving table, then discuss several topics including that ...after the job you did on the Windmill Island project, I have no doubt you can do (the site supervisors job)... you took over this morning like you meant it, and you’ve been planning this for weeks. Randy comments that I may own the company and I may even think I run it once in a while, but I learned a long time ago that I don’t know all there is to know about the nuts and bolts of construction ... when there’s work that needs to get done quickly and get done right, I’ve learned to get out of the way and let people who know what they’re doing get the job done. You’ve got Mike to handle the footers and Russ knows about all there is to know about building a house like this. The biggest thing you have to learn is to tell them what needs to be done and then let them do it their way. I’ve had to do that for years, and while I may not like it, the job gets done right when I do (everything) that way.

It wasn’t long before the cylindrical forms for the pilings were going in the ground, and being filled with concrete. Jim wandered over to the roof truss assembly team and noticed that Rachel was right in there helping, with a big smile on her face.

He was just heading back over to look again at the blueprints sitting on the serving table when an Amish buggy pulled up. An old man got out, wearing the Amish uniform of black pants, blue shirt, black suspenders and a wide-brimmed straw hat. A short getting-to-know-you discussion took place, with Jim learning that the Amish gentleman's name was Aaron, and he was more or less in charge of an Amish crew from Indiana. The conversation ended with Jim inviting him to drop by any time you’re in the neighborhood, and Aaron inviting Jim to his job site, about ten blocks away.

In a couple minutes, Jim was back over at the serving table, studying the house plans when Bud commented that There’s something I never thought I’d see down here ... (the Amish) always struck me as a little weird... Jim replied That guy heads the second-best house building crew in town, at least if what I heard around the volunteer food tent is right. They do more work than a lot of the other groups put together.

Second-best? Bud grinned. Who’s the best?

The chapter ends with Jim saying You’re in it, ... We just have to prove it.