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Couldn't Tell the Head from the Tail
Joining the Damn Church
Funny Words of Wisdom from Forum at
The Posy Protests: Using Charm to Overcome
Pretty Face a Detriment for Construction Supervisors
Be Careful When Building a Church
Pinheads and Nails
A Construction Supervisor Committed to a Mental Institution
A Redneck Skill Every Contractor Should Have
Communicate on the Jobsite
Jerking Around Vs Ticking Off


Couldn't Tell the Head from the Tail

There was an old Construction Superintendent who lived in Arkansas and hadn’t been exposed to much beyond his little town. One day, he was out with his crew, framing a building on the edge of town, and saw the strangest thing in his entire life. He saw an elephant come walking down the street and go into cabbage field next to his jobsite.

This old Super just stood and watched this elephant in the cabbage field. As I said, he hadn’t been much for education and had never seen an elephant before, never even seen a picture of one.

Turns out the circus was coming through the town and one of the elephants escaped from a wagon. The sheriff came walking onto the jobsite and asked the old Super about the elephant. The old man replied, “I never seen anything like it. That critter keeps pulling up the cabbage with its tail.”

The sheriff said, “What? Pulled them up with his tail? What did he do with them?

The old Super replied, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”

Joining the Damn Church

I'm doing lots of church projects these days. I generally try to avoid working for churches because I've experienced some rotten behavior from church building committees. The secret, I think, involves determining if the church leaders really do want to treat others (including contractors) the way they want to be treated themselves.

Fortunately I'm working with some great folks on these projects and really enjoying it. I shared this story with one of the pastors and he loved it. I think you may too.

A man walks into a church office and says to the secretary, "I want to join this damn church!"

The astonished woman replies, "I beg your pardon, sir. I must have misunderstood you. What did you say?"

"Listen up, dammit. I said I want to join this damn church!"

"I'm very sorry, sir, but that kind of language is not appropriate. Please excuse me for a moment."

The secretary then leaves her desk and goes into the pastor's study to inform him of her situation. The pastor agrees that the secretary should not have to listen to foul language.

They both return to her office and the pastor asks the old man, "Sir, what seems to be the problem here?"

"There is no damn problem," the man says. "I just won 200 million bucks in the damn lottery and I want to join this damn church to get rid of some of this damn money."

"I see," said the pastor. "And is this bitch giving you a hard time?

Funny Words of Wisdom from Forum at

Old Timers Words of Wisdom

Found in, General Discussion 1/16/2009 start thread

On appearance:
Plumbers cracks belong on plumbers; son you're not a plumber.

Whatever it is, keep the blade sharp! I would hate to cut myself on that, I would be here all day trying to.

you can't polish a turd.

If you don't like that end of the shovel, start learning something.

"He's a (Banker, lawyer, etc). The only thing he did different from the rest of us was getting pushed out of a rich p*ssy." (On customers)

"Couldn't count to 21 if you was naked." (When I'd measure once and cut wrong).

"Is it dead yet?" (used when I was over utilizing a hammer).

"You got a home game going ?" anytime I was caught with my hands in my pockets.

"There's two ways to do this job; MY way or your way. My way you get paid...

When things are really, really bad, don't get too excited...'cause they'll get good again. And when things are really, really good... don't get too excited....'cause they'll get bad again. (an old contractor, apparently explaining the cycles of the economy)

A group of guys doing the job the way I want it done.

Go home and tell your dad to send you to college: While setting Simons forms in mid winter. (I did not listen)

"Whose smarter you or that rock?"

Tight is right....Too tight is broken

"He has two speeds.....slow and stop"

"Slicker than snot on a doorknob"

"I've cut it twice and it's still too short"

"We ain't building a piano" (oh and you had to say "piana")

"You know just enough to be dangerous"

"Number than a pounded thumb"

"Does you mother/wife/sister know that you have her hammer?"

And in the spirit of the cold weather "It's colder than a witches tit"

Are my shoes ready yet? If you're not hitting it hard enough

Is your husband a carpenter too? self explanatory

Ah, that’s harder than a honeymoon peter.

IT AINT YOUR GIRLFRIEND....HIT IT!!!!! (when a greenhorn has no swing!)

Or.... Hit it with your purse!!! I always liked that one.

"I've been doing this since before you were even a gleam in your daddy's eye"

"I've hung more doors than you've walked through"

"Yes you can borrow my saw but don't get blood all over it"

"One boy is half a help, two boys are no help at all." (Grandfather who was part of my roofing education.)

"I would have been a painter, but I don't like wine."

"It only costs a nickel more to go first class." (I've tried to live by this one.)

Copper wire was invented by 2 lawyers fighting over a penny.

On driving: "Son, I've backed up more miles than you've drove forward!"

I remember as a kid with my dad in a hardware store, a sign on the cash register.

You can have it fast or you can have it right- Ya ain't gettin both

On cold weather "the heat is in the tools"

Monkey’s screwing a football

The Posy Protests: Using Charm to Overcome

I was chatting with Bill Gainer the chief estimator at Wiker Excavating a while ago and we got on the subject of the difficulty getting jobs done these days. We were covering the usual litany of complaints about the timing of permits, the arrogance of certain inspectors and Owner's changing their minds. We hadn't yet gotten to bog turtles and Indian burial grounds when he told me about a new source of aggravation they'd discovered.

Wiker was building a parking lot at Eastern University (I told him my daughter attended there) and had a bunch of the survey stakes pulled out of the ground and posies planted in the resulting holes. He said, "Can you imagine someone protesting the project by pulling out our survey stakes and planting flowers in holes?" I could.

I thought back to a phone call I'd received from our daughter Anna, who was full of righteous indignation that Eastern University (which she loved) was taking the favorite outdoor sitting area of the students and planning to build a parking lot. She was most aggravated that none of the faculty had heard about the proposed project and seemed opposed to it as well. She thought the Administration was trying to just push it through without the inconvenience of open campus debate and discussion. She thought something needed to be done and she wanted to do it.

She told me that these wood sticks had been hammered into the ground that had writing on them. I told her they were survey stakes and meant the start of work was imminent. She asked me, "Well what if we just pull the survey stakes out?"

I said, "Under no circumstances should you pull those survey stakes out. It takes substantial work to do that layout and you would be liable for thousands of dollars. Also, it's disrespectful to the guys that did that work. I previously did that kind of site layout and hated when people drove over the stakes."

Of course, that night she went out and pulled out all the survey stakes and planted posies in the holes. She thought the principle bigger than money or hurt feelings.

When I told Bill it was my daughter who had pulled out those stakes, he roared with laughter. He said, "Even though we had to re-stake the entire area, we did think it was pretty funny that they planted posies in the certainly was different."

The response of the Administration, on the other hand, varied. A couple of the deans talked to Anna and gently chided her, but seemed sort of pleased that some real campus protest was going on, seemed glad that the response wasn't apathy. The Dean in charge, however, didn't see it that way. He called Anna into his office and asked her whose idea it was to pull out the stakes and who had done it. She responded, "It was my idea and I mostly did it."

He started talking about financial consequences and disciplinary measures. She realized that she could be in some deep doo doo here. Finally, the Dean asked her what she thought her discipline should be. Anna thought for a bit, then said, "I should have hours of community services, doing things like pulling up noxious weeds that have invaded the campus."

The Dean looked at his notes and said, "Well I see here you already volunteer to do that, how is that punishment?"

Anna replied, "Well don't you think that if I care that much about this campus that maybe I don't need to be punished?"

Apparently he broke into a big grin and Anna walked away with no punishment and a new friend.

Charm. Never underestimate the value of charm as a lubricant in conflicts.


Pretty Face a Detriment for Construction Supervisors


When Dereck Hench, my main Construction Supervisor, prevents a problem by looking ahead or does something extraordinary, I often say to him, "You're not just another pretty face." Of course he blushes and stammers. Well not really, but the thought of him blushing and stammering makes me laugh.

Turns out, his not so pretty face, and those of the rest of the guys I work with, may actually be an attribute. The <a href="">Journal of Social Science</a> just published a study that clearly showed discrimination against beautiful women who were applying for jobs in traditionally male dominated positions like Construction Supervisor, Mechanical Engineer, Manager of R&D, etc.

As we all know, beautiful men and women generally get hiring preference compared to the rest of us sorrowful specimens. In fact the beautiful people get all sorts of preferred treatments. Not so, it appears, in the field of Construction Supervision where we apparently prefer the women to be plain.

I certainly can support one of the conclusions of the study:

"The study chided those who let stereotypes influence hiring decisions. Given the importance of hiring and the consequences of making a wrong choice, the authors said, managers need to rely more on information from the individual rather than on stereotypes about physical appearance."

Perhaps to right this historic wrong, we need to swing the pendulum a bit the other way. Beauty contests on the jobsite would certainly be motivational and would reward the beauty that has been previously discriminated against. Just a thought...though I really don't want to see Dereck in a Speedo.



Be Careful When Building a Church

Years ago a carpenter was putting a roof on a small church building. This carpenter was a rough and tumble sort of fellow and would yell “Damn, I missed!” quite loudly every time he missed the nail with his hammer. After several days of this, the pastor called up to him that he needed to stop this profanity in the church.

The carpenter sneered, “What’s going to happen, do you think God is going to send down lighting to strike me dead?”

The minister said, “Well, yes, I think that very thing just might happen.” Moments later, clouds formed, a big wind began blowing and a single bolt of lighting shot through the church roof and killed the minister.

Heard from the sky was a booming voice, “Damn, I missed!”

Pinheads and Nails

Two simple carpenters were working on a house. The one who was nailing down siding would reach into his nail pouch, pull out a nail and either toss it over his shoulder or nail it in.
The other, figuring this was worth looking into, asked, “Why are you throwing those nails away?”
The first explained, “If I pull a nail out of my pouch and it’s pointed toward me, I throw it away ’cause it’s defective. If it’s pointed toward the house, then I nail it in!”
The second simpleton got completely upset and yelled, “You moron! The nails pointed toward you aren’t defective! They’re for the other side of the house!”


A Construction Supervisor Committed to a Mental Institution

A Construction Supervisor let the stress of the jobsite get to him and was committed to a mental institution. One day while out for a stroll, he saw through the fence a motorist changing a tire. The motorist, unnerved to discover a patient so near at hand, stepped on the hubcap containing his tire's lug nuts, and watched in dismay as all four lugs clattered down a storm sewer inlet.

The Construction Supervisor cleared his throat. "Excuse me, sir. If you take one lug nut off each of the other three tires," he said, "it will give you three extras to put on your spare. Then you could drive to a service station and get some more."

The motorist was amazed. "That's a wonderful idea! How did you ever think of that?"

"I'm here because I'm crazy", replied the Construction Supervisor, "Not because I'm stupid."

A Redneck Skill Every Contractor Should Have

It's been many years since I worked in the field every day, but the video below makes me remember some of the things I miss. WD-40 truly is a magic elixir.

The joys and tribulations of getting equipment running, pumps primed and generally being stuck in the mud makes me smile as I look back. At the moment, of course, it's totally aggravating. Like life, for the most part.

Communicate on the Jobsite

I came across a short article that had my favorite ever cartoon (which I think dates back to the 1980s). See if you relate to it.

I've remembered that old saw many times as I've been talking to people (and to dogs). My old boss, Ed Abel, did a great job of communicating on the jobsite. He'd tell the guy what he wanted done. Then he'd move in closer and tell him again, then he'd take a step back and tell him another time. He'd ask questions to make sure his message was understood. He simply never assumed that just because he said it clearly that the other guy heard it clearly.

Otherwise, as was fond of saying, "You've got monkeys screwing a football." Or words to that effect.

Jerking Around Vs Ticking Off

I was meeting with a church building committee yesterday and presenting a final estimate for a project we will start next week. We were discussing some re-pricing to get a clear idea of some of our options. The one building committee member suggested I get some additional price break-down from one of the trade contractor bidders that I doubt we'll use. I didn't want to waste the bidder's time if he really didn't have a shot at the job and said, "Well, I don't want to jerk the guy off." I kept on talking as my brain slowly processed what I had just said. It's rare that I'm embarrassed but I certainly was then. The guys kind of laughed as I finally got around to saying that I should have chosen my phrasing a bit more carefully. They were good-natured and mentioned that construction will be starting next week and lots of things will get said in church that usually don't. I really was surprised that I just blurted that out and it took me about ten minutes to realize that I was thinking both that I didn't want to jerk the guy around and that I didn't want to tick him off. Unfortunately, I guess my brain combined them.