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Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002
Seems to me that a lot of people are spending their days working at jobs which they are either overqualified for or, possibly, are simply bored to tears.

(And this by no means implies that the Peter Principle isnít alive and well. Just go to any fast food joint and ask for the assistant manager.)

Take, for example, the case of the Duct Man. Upon arrival at a new construction project the other day, Stu and I heard a ruckus from deep within the bowels of the nearly completed building. A rant, if you will. Not an unusual rant, we hear the same one verbatim, nearly every day. It goes something like this, gaining in volume with each syllable:

ĒOh God. Not again. Iím tired of doing everybody elseís work. You canít make me stay here, the electrician is in my way and now heís making a mess right where I have to install this damper system. Screw it, Iím going back to bed.Ē

We hear this mantra so often it usually barely registers. Somebody is forever in a pissy mood on a building site. Itís the nature of the beast. But this time, the voice belonged to the Duct Man.

(Editors note: Duct Man is capitalized as a way of differentiating his specialty in construction, similar to how you would relate to the term Trash Man, Pool Man, etc. They often call us Cabinet Man, for example. I once actually heard someone referred to as Broom Man.)

Evidently the Duct Man is one of those lads who turned south just after his graduate studies at Princeton were completed. His ranting was reaching new heights as we turned the corner and zeroed in on his location.

ĒOh Jesus, now look. The Cabinet Man is here. I suppose youíre going to start shoving stuff in my way too. Well, that does it. Iím outta here. Iíve got a brand new magic marker and a fresh Port-O-Jon out back, see you guys later.Ē

With a wink he bustled off, leaving the hapless electrician in his wake. Stu and I immediately recognized him as one of our own and grinned back.

Later in the day, the peace of the jobsite was disturbed again. The Duct Man was howling from the rafters as Ceiling Tile man installed his grid work directly below him. It seemed that little provision had been made to accommodate our yelping friend.

ĒLooky here, Ceiling dude. Itís bad enough that the brain surgeons who designed this place didnít see fit to want any sort of easy airflow through here, but you donít have to make it worse. I do have tin snips, and I do know how to cut grid. Quickly. And make animal shapes out of it. Follow me, dude?Ē

And still later, the dramatic climax.

ĒOh my good Lord. Whoever invented the means to put ductwork together was the devilís spawn.Ē

All this before lunch, at which time Duct Man sat in his brand new 4 wheel drive truck (it can be said that while they are a miserable lot, they are surely well paid) munching his tuna on rye and reading (I am not making this up) The Wall St. Journal.

I have a feeling that he couldíve been one helluva lawyer, politician, used car sales manager or whatever, but he chose this particular path. Content in his world, boisterous without apology. A Joe Six-Pack by day and a tweed suit fellow by night.

Sounds vaguely familiar, doesnít it?

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