Monday, April 18, 2016

3 STEP PROGRAM TO NOT BEING A DICKHEAD



Friday we needed to go to our steel supplier and pick up stock for a couple upcoming jobs.
 Any other day of the week, we're in and out of that place in 10 or 15 minutes, but picking up on a Friday...you're lookin' at 2 to 3 hours.
 Aside from picking up material, we're pretty close to being caught up on our work, so I decided to take my version of a "mental health day" and build something from our scrap, for no reason at all, with a design pulled completely from my rectum.
 Days like that are not only necessary, but should be mandatory.
Me and Zack are work-a-holics.
 Our idea of "fun" is building random shit, even though we spend 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, building shit for other people.
 It's a soul cleansing.
Building with no restriction, no deadline, no real purpose other than letting loose...it's like having sex.
 Allow me to explain...
You're with your partner for years. You have sex with this partner repeatedly over the years. The sex is great, that's one reason you both are navigating life together. But every now and then, you come home and she has a new hair color, or she bought some sexy heels, and she drags you in the bedroom and puts it on ya.
 Now, the person is the same, the "act" is the same, the end result is the same. I mean, at the end of it all, you've still made a huge mess, and you still want a sandwich, but it was different.
 When it's all said and done, you both continue on with life, but you continue on with a little more swagger.
Building random shit is my work version of sex in a public bathroom on our anniversary.
 Aside from that analogy, we would be hosting a sleepover for my son on Friday night and I felt that I really needed to have a good day.
 He was having his 2 cousins spend the night, and I love those kids dearly. I also, know that the memories that we create for him now are the ones that he carries with him for the rest of his life.
 There's a price to be paid.
They're all good kids, but there is a witching hour, and shit gets crazy. There's also the barrage of demands, and bickering, and conflict, and hurt feelings, and hurt heads, and then...there's the clean up.
 In my head, I thought, "If I come home in a good mood, I'll be able to tolerate this sleepover better".
I came home in a great mood, and it ended up being ok. The kids let me watch a play off hockey game slightly uninterrupted, pizza was ordered, cookies were made, no ER visits, nothing outside of normal 6 year old conflicts. I couldn't really have asked for a better day.
 What I'm learning is this...There are always going to be things that you have to do, but if you can manage to do them on your terms, you'll be able to take a little bit of the sting out of the unpleasant or the mundane.
 Also, if you spend less time dreading the things that you don't necessarily want to do, and spend more time knocking those things out and being mentally and emotionally present while you're executing those things, you'll find that it all wasn't so bad.
 Lastly...carve some time out for you. If you find yourself constantly doing shit for other people, or allocating all your time to doing the grown up shit we all have to do, without taking some time for yourself, you'll start harboring resentment against the whole world and end up being a total jag off that no one likes.
 The moral of the story is this...take the time you need for yourself, so you don't end up being a dickhead.

Monday, April 11, 2016

TROPHY



I don't remember if I had mentioned that Zack had picked up a shop truck.
 It's a rusty white 1973 GMC Custom.
All this truck needs is a gun rack and Tennessee license plates in order for us to achieve full blown redneck status.
 One of the very first modifications done to this piece of Americana, was that Zack had chopped the muffler off so that you can hear us coming from 6 to 8 blocks away.
 The other day while driving in ol' Whitey, we're driving down 18th Street in Pilsen, and as we're rolling down the street, we notice this man yelling and flailing his arms at us. Our first thought was "oh shit, the truck is on fire", so we pull over.
 I hop out of the truck expecting to see flames shooting up the side of the truck, and the flailing arm man makes his way over and asks "are you guys scrappers?"
 "well, no...we're not scrappers, but...what cha' got?".
The man explained that he was a building engineer for the Chicago Public Schools and he had a bunch of old school desks that he had to get rid of.
 Fucking SCORE.
We went and took a look and he showed us a room full of desks, some of them dating back as far as 1957.
 We came back the next morning and loaded 2 trucks with the treasure.
Of course it started raining/snowing when we got back to the shop, and as the desks got wet, they became slimey from 50 plus years of children s snot and boogers. It was probably the most disgusting thing that I had ever felt.
 Once the desks were all loaded in, me and Zack must have looked like we were about to perform surgery by the way we were washing our hands, ya know how they do on those doctor tv shows, where they're scrubbing vigorously up past their elbows.
 I couldn't wait to mess with one of these desks.
I made a new top, and proceeded to scrub and scrape the base. Removing a lifetime of boogers, and gum, and crayon marks, and stickers.
 The entire time I was scrubbing, I was mentally transported back to Mrs. Pam's second grade class room.
I fucking hated school.
 I fucking hated the nuns, the smell, the cold steel, the programming, the molding, the shaping, the brown paper bag with some bullshit sandwich and a partially rotted banana. Even as far back as second grade I knew I didn't belong. I knew I would mold and shape my goddamn self.
 I spent my elementary school years flying under the radar and perfecting my drawing skills by drawing heavy metal band logos on my book covers that I had taken mental note  from my brothers record collection.
 So, for a brief moment...I hated our new acquisition.
They took me to a bad place for a minute there, but then they became something else.
 They became a trophy.
They became a trophy that would have a placard that would read...
"Fuck you Mrs. Pam, Mrs. Beck, Mr. Hammond, and you too Sister Mary whatever the fuck your name was. You all tried to convince me that I would never be shit. Guess what? I've done more and seen more then your pathetic career of screaming at small children ever allowed you to see or do.
 You don't get to take credit for any of my success's because contrary to your beliefs, I am self taught and self made. I learned what the fuck I wanted to learn. I sought knowledge in subjects that pertained to MY life, MY dreams. I made my own fucking curriculum.
 You fuckers know why I sucked at your program? It was boring. You all...were boring. I never allowed you or your system to steal MY fucking shine. I cultivated my shine on my own.
 Follow the rules, follow the program, get in line...get fucked.
I won't be called on alphabetically, cause I'm the only one in MY class. My last name will never dictate my position.
 By making that stand at that early age, I get to pass MY knowledge down to my son, not yours.
All my mistakes and failures that you attempted to make me terrified of, have made me who I am. I embrace my mistakes and failures and wear them all like a badge of honor. Your words and direction taught me nothing. My mistakes and failures and the mistakes and failures of others taught me everything.

Well, I guess I can cancel my appointment with my therapist this week.

Monday, April 4, 2016

LOVE TO HATE




Focus.
 Focus is a term we only really think of when we're taking a photo, or aiming a gun, or walking on a tight rope across the Grand Canyon.
 Focus is a tool.
If you can harness the act of focusing, you are one unstoppable bastard.
 As of recently, we have mastered the art of being focused, and with that mastery, we have achieved what most would deem as impossible.
 Phase 2 of our restaurant build had it's deadline pushed up...by 3 weeks. Not a day or 2...3 weeks.
When looking at the amount of work and then subtracting 180 working hours, it felt like having the wind knocked out of you.
 In that situation, a sense of being overwhelmed kicks in, and you waste a day or so just being "overwhelmed" and nothing really gets done.
 Usually being overwhelmed is a type of defense mechanism, that over time, helps put your tasks in perspective. Sometimes you need to be uncomfortable in order to get shit moving, like the dog has to stink before you bathe it, or your cars gas tank needs to be dangerously empty before you fill it up.
 We didn't have time for feeling overwhelmed.
My personal recommendation is to do the shit that you hate most...first.
 Make sure that you constantly joke about how much you hate doing the shit you hate, it's a sure way to bring the hate level down a few notches.
 The next step is to thwart distractions.
People love to come to our shop and share their hopes and dreams, or bounce their ideas, or complain about their situations.
 What we have discovered to be helpful in combating this situation, is to fill the shop with a combination of loud annoying music, sawdust, welding smoke, and the aroma of dangerously toxic chemicals.
 This method had worked so well that I thought about developing a scented candle and I would call it "get the fuck out of here".
 Saturday morning we had arrived at a point where everything was built and all the finish coats were drying.
We did it...again.
 We stayed the course, we focused, we thwarted distraction, and we got the job done.
A sense of accomplishment is the reward. Our skills, sharpened to the level of a surgeons scalpel.
 You can come out of a shitty situation better if you remain focused.
Not only is our business better from this situation, but I think we're better people from it too.