Sad Day but Sadder Times

On three levels it was a crappy day. Today we lost J. Giles, Charlie Murphy, and Peter Hansen. In ONE freakin’ DAY. WTF?

Anyway, Dear Reader, if this Old Lady is very lucky you know who two out of three of those men were. If you only know one of them or Dear Gods no! You know NONE of them the rest of this post may not make any sense to you. Therefore you are invited part this post in peace. Please return another day, you’re always welcome.

It seems that in the first 4 months of 2017…like through the entire year of 2016…’people of a certain age’ have lost far too many of our

Even though I do very much want to say ‘heroes’ I understand there are ‘people of a certain age’ who might find word ‘offensive’ in some manner. The last thing I want to do is get some dumbass SJWs chomping at my heels.  So let’s just say that

We’ve lost far too many people who influenced and may even molded parts of our lives. People of a Certain Age, like myself, lament these passings because they put us closer in touch with our own Mortality. AND because the world lost some damn talented folk and there doesn’t seem to be many people out there rising to their levels so they can aid in filling the gaps left behind.

The thought of facing the days…Dear Gods, please, not the SAME DAY…that Stephen King, Bruce Springsteen, and John freakin’ Cougar (ok, Mellencamp) depart this world are events that fill my heart with dread.

So was the same with today. At work.

Backstory….my boss has been out on Medical Leave for a few weeks and he’ll be gone a few more weeks. Someone else is filling in for him and they’re very nice, I like them. BUT, that didn’t change the fact that I spend many many many days in my office totally ALONE. Hell, a lot of days even the people who rent out the front two offices don’t come in. A lot of the time I end up believing that I have one of the loneliest jobs on the planet. It’s just me and the radio. And Yahoo! “News”. We all know I need to stop reading THAT shit! LOL

As I sat, alone, at my desk, in my office AGAIN today I was listening for any signs of life with a keen ear when, near the end of the day, the door opened and I heard the nice lady in the front office say her familiarly infamous words; “Carpenters? They’re down the hall. Talk to Lisa.”

So I perked up as I readied myself to greet someone. Given those words I figured it would be someone who either wanted to know how to join the union, a spouse coming in to pay their spouses dues, or some type of salesman. Either way, it was company so I was up for it.

Or so I thought.

I was greeted by the sight of a 20something female snapping gum and who couldn’t understand she was supposed to stand at the window rather than letting herself into my office. Keep in mind, I never mind when Members (on occasion) walk right in and sit right to chat a bit as I take care of their payment. That means they like me. I do get a few bristles up when a complete stranger does it no matter their gender. But not many. No biggie.

“Are you Lisa?”

“Yes, how can I help you?” In my head I’m thinking; who else would I be? Since the door to the back offices is not only closed but locked, how much further did you think you were supposed to walk before finding me?

Gum snap. Gum snap. Gum snap. “Yeah, um, ya know, what do you guys do here?”

“Excuse me?”

“What do’ya do? My husband’s a carpenter and he needs a job.”

A few more bristles up. A few tiny red lights start going off in my head but I smile and say; “Commercial and Industrial carpentry. Big buildings, bridges, some roadwork, you know overpasses. If you’re looking for Residential, we don’t do a lot of that.” That sentence always kills me to have to say because I think Carpenters Unions and Plumbers Unions and Electrical Unions should GO AFTER that kind of work but I understand why they don’t. Still…bummer. Sucks.

Gum snap. Gum snap. Gum snap. “Oh, why not? Never mind, how does he get in with you guys?”

I love your command of the English language and admire the way you can snap gum.

Still smiling, “Our next test is on____ at _____. Just let him know, have him come in with a valid CT photo ID and he can take the test.” (Obligatory sentence now) “Taking the test is not a guarantee of joining the Union and joining the Union is not a guarantee of work.” (None obligatory sentence now) “If he wants to know more he can visit our website all of the information is there.”

Gum snap. “Oh, ok, but he needs a job. Like now.”

Yeah, I got that sweetheart, but I’m not God, can’t conjure him up a job. Sorry.

She walked out of my office, went to the window and started to pluck one of the BAs business cards from the holder. “Can I write on this?”


“No, sorry, here I’ll write the web address down for you.” I grab a Post-It Note.

“You got any stuff I can take home?” Gum snap. Gum snap. Gum snap.

Yeah, I do and I’ll give it to you but….whatever. “Sure.” I walk out of my office and get her the information on Apprenticeship & Training and taking the test and blah blah blah. I hand it to her. “Here take this home, give it to your husband, if he thinks it’s something he’s interested in he can call me or he can visit the website. The address is right there.”

She takes it from my hand and glances at it. “Yeah, ok, sure.” Gum snap. Gum snap. Gum snap. “I see ya got a nice clubhouse here but what’s the fight about?”

Clubhouse? Heart sinks to my toes. For one very blessedly brief moment in time the Honeycomb Hideout commercial flashed behind my eyes.

“Excuse me?”

Gum snap. “Yeah, I mean, who do you vote for Clinton or Trump? What’s the deal?”

Measuring words and retaining composure, “We don’t tell our members who to vote for.” Ok that’s a bit of a stretch but not really. The Union does back individual candidates but every member’s vote is private just like yours is. Once they get to the point where they can fill in a dot it’s all up to them.

“Ok, so, what’s a Union?”

My heart comes to a dead stop. I can feel my mouth drop open as the color drains from my cheeks. My brain is scrambling for the appropriate answer under the circumstances and all I could manage was; “Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” gum snap, “What’s a union?”

Brain scrambles to hold back mouth and body. A few seconds later I manage something along the lines of; “We’re all about prevailing wage. Good pay. Good benefits. Good working conditions. You know, An Honest Day’s Pay for an Honest Day’s Work. No one’s paid under the table or treated as though they’re nothing more than a 1099. We have a great training program for new members and ones for journeymen to keep on their skills. We work only with Union Contractors who agree to abide by Union Rules because they value the worker.”


“Oh,” gum snap. Gum snap. Gum snap. “I’m new to the area so I didn’t know.”

GET OUT! That’s what I wanted to say. Dear Reader don’t take this the wrong way but the only thing I could think at that point was; you don’t have a Southern accent.


I guess she just never heard the truism; Buy American and Americans Work. She never saw this commercial.

I also guess that the Education System (public, private, magnet, or charter) it utterly failing our youth! They no longer teach things of importance just whatever’s going to be on the next standardized test. ‘Back the day’ when I went to school we spent 1st through 6th grade doing what one might call General History. It was a little American History, a little World History, a little Social/Cultural Studies, you know a nice mish-mash of everything one might need to know in order not to repeat past mistakes in their future. In 7th through 12th grade we got to pick our own classes and we could focus in more on things that interested us. I always chose American History for my History Credit. So…I knew the History of Unions in the United States (good, bad, and indifferent) nearly 40 years before I ever went to work for one. That’s why I was very excited when I got my present job. I knew about it and it was inline with my own personal political/economical belief system therefore, baring any assholes, it was right up my alley. Even though the job can be very lonely I am very happy and proud to work for Local 24.

BACK to the conversation.

“Ooookay,” I said as politely as I could muster. “Well, you just take that home to your husband and see if he’s interested.”

Gum snap. “Yeah, I will. Thanks.”

She left.

Thirty seconds later she was back.

Gum snap. “Did I leave my phone here?”

Oh you’ve got to be kidding me!

“I don’t know, let’s look.” I walk out of my office and go back to the table across the Hall–not the fucking ‘clubhouse’!–where we’d been standing and I don’t see a phone. “No, I don’t think so.” I turn around.

Like Alley Sheedy in the ‘The Breakfast Club’ she dumps this YUGE satchel onto the nearest table. All manner of…stuff…falls out and she rummages through it. “Oh,” gum snap, “I got it, it was in my purse the whole time.”

Dear Gods save me!

She finally actually left. I had a headache. I went down the hall to talk to Mark and Linda. Mark greeted me and I said; “How do you like our clubhouse?”

He said; “What?”

I related the story and we all had a good, if puzzling, laugh over it.

The saddest part is that when we went to pick up our youngest daughter at her job today I asked Miss Rebecca (a 20something herself); “What’s a Union?”

She couldn’t answer me.


We’ve really failed our Youth here. Not ME. Definitely not ME. Time and time again I railed in the face of teachers about trophies for doing nothing, not correcting spelling and grammar on papers, teaching things that were far more political than they were substantial. Time and time again I was shot down by said teachers who constantly told me they were the ‘professionals’ and I should just ‘leave it up to them’.

It’s not that I don’t have respect for teachers…well yeah it is…it’s more than I was the victim of the Educational System far more than I was benefactor of such. I’m 50 years old and to this day I can count on ONE hand the teachers who were awesome throughout my 12 year academic ‘career’. Considering I had at least 36 of them, that’s a terrible track record.

If you scored 33% on anything you’d fail too.

So, please, teach children more things that actually MATTER and far less things that don’t amount to a hill of beans in the Grand Scheme.



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