Author: Rhynes, J.D.

JD as Pipe Fitter/Jester

The onliest thang I miss about not working is the pranks and jokes I used to pull on my fellow 'fitters that I used to work with. We used to pull all sorts of jokes on each other, and it was a ton of fun. It really was a fun way to make a living back then. Plus, you got to work outdoors, instead of inside an office building, all cooped up like a chicken in a pen or cage. Working outdoors provided me a stage fer some of my pranks that would have been impossible to do inside a building. Some of the pranks we used to pull on each other kinda went like this. Years ago all of the Porta Potty's were built out of plywood and it was often that someone got the door nailed shut on him. A fun part of the day unless you were "the nailee" . Hah.

One of my favorite memories was the time we were working on a big power house job, and one of the tool rental company salesmen had a bad habit of parking his pink Lincoln right in front of the 300 ton crane so we had to wait till he got back before we could use the crane. When you've got a crew of fitter's standing around costing yer company about $1,200.00 an hour, the boss tends to get really upset. SOOO, about the third time that dumb salesman parked his pink Lincoln in our way, when he came back to leave, with the keys in his hand to unlock the car, seems like SOMEONE had picked it up with the BIG forklift and set it on top of a BIG dumpster! I can still see the look on his face. Ha ha ha ha! It kinda dented the body a little, but he never parked that car inside the jobsite again!

Then there's the story of a young journeyman that was my apprentice fer about 6 months, when he was about three years into the program. He had turned out as a journeyman about a year, and we were working on a liquid sugar plant, so he was set up as the foreman over the detailing crew. It was his job to oversee the layout of the piping systems and to provide the drawings to fabricate the pipe. He gave me and my fitter "Satchel A - - " Jim McGee a couple of drawings that were drawn wrong, and we caught his mistake's in time to correct them. He got rather snotty with me when I told him to take more time when he was measuring and laying out the pipe. NOT a thang you want to do. I studied over his crummy and superior attitude fer about an hour after, and 'ol Satchel sez; J.D., I can tell that you've got a big dose of 'comeuppance" in store fer 'lil Willie, by the evil look on yer face. Yep, sez I, and here's how it's gonna work. I tells "Satchel" the plan, and sure enuff about an hour later ol 'Satchel sez, here he comes, grabbed his welding hood and put it on his head. We had our clip board of prints in the middle of our 4X4 steel table. I sez, hey Willie, we found another mistake on this print, you better check it out, or we're gonna build it jes like you drew it! Willie took the bait, rushed over to the table, and leaned over to look at the drawing. I immeadiately slapped a steel "U" of rebar around him, and ol "Satchel" welded it to the table. Willie, sez I, NOW SON, you can take a good long look at that print and while yer at it, work on yer crummy attitude, and if it aint jes exactly right when 'ol "Satchel" and I get back in an hour er two, you might jes spend the night here! Needless to say, after that lil Willie's attitude was GREATLY improved, adn was HIGHLY relieved when we cut him loose an hour later. After that he listened real close when I talked to him. He turned out to be one of our finest journeymen, and served our local union fer 25 years as our apprentice co ordinator.

In 1987 we were building a Co Generator plant at the Port of Stockton. It generated electricity and supplied steam to a lot of the industry at the port facility.

I was working with one of my fitter buddies, Rick Polk, and it was late summer and the San Joaquin Cunty fair was goin on. Rick and his wife took their son to the Fair on a Saturday to do a lot of the rides, and eat junk food, like you always do at the Fair. WELL, when Monday came around and Rick showed up to work, he was literally green around the Gill's and was still motion sick from riding one of them rides at the Fair. You know the one where you get in this "Clam Shell" of a car, they strap you in, and it spins around in all kinds of directions, and goes up and down too! Rick said that when he got off of that thing he grabbed a hand rail and puked his guts out right there! SOOO, that set the sage fer one of my most famous pranks ever! When something happens to a fitter, the rest of the crew goes fer yer jugular every time. Rick could not eat at all fer a couple of days, and every time one of the crew would talk to him, they would weave back and forth in front of him to make him sick again. And it usually worked. This went on all week, and I told Rick dont worry pard, "The Shadow" has a plan to get even with 'em. Rick and I were working out of a basket on a "Cherrry Picker" that had an 80 foot tall boom on it. It was hydraulically controlled, and you could run the boom out and in, up and down, sideways and position the man basket literally in any position. We were welding pipe supports on the side of boiler "A", about 50 feet in the air this one day, and the two fitters that had harrassed Rick the most all week were working right below us. A'HA, "The Shadow' strikes! I pulled a can of Vegetable Soup out of my tool bucket, opened it with the can opener I always have on my keyring, and sez to my pard Rick; Here's the plan. You get a big mouthfull of this soup, lean over the side and I'll pour the rest over those two fools that have been messin' with you. When they look up, you let the rest of it go out of yer mouth. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Well, Rick did, and I did, and he did. I hit 'em both dead center with half a can of "puke"! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You should have seen the looks on their faces! Before we could jump onto the boiler, they switched the controls to "Ground Level" on the Zoom Boom's control panel, and started walking it out to where they could hose us down with the Fire Hose nearby. The only thang that saved our Bacon that day was a bunch of the 'White Hat" supervisors came walking around the boiler about that time, and would have fired the whole bunch of us if they would have hosed us down. Revenge was sweet!

They told us later, that when that soup hit 'em they could jes smell that Sour Puke smell! Ha ha ha ha ha! They never did mess with us again, 'cause they said I didn't play "fair" er whatever that is? Revenge from "The Shadow" was swift and most surely CERTAIN ! Good times of day's long gone, and I miss 'em.

Posted:  3/24/2011

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