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Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2005
If youíve got nothing else to do when youíre sitting around the house all day, waiting for work to surface, why not just get out the old sledgehammer, crowbar, sawzall, hammer and a smattering of frosty longnecks and just go outside and bash the hell out of some pressure treated lumber?

Thatís been my philosophy lately. Thereís a pile of moldering lumber in my backyard to prove it, and I wonít dispute nor approve of theories as to how therapeutic this may be but I can tell you this. There ainít no more deck around the olí swimming hole no more. There ainít no more swimming hole come to think of it. I do have a pile of stuff fit only for a dumpster, about a 40 yarder I would say.

Yesterday I had a job interview, which is certainly a rare enough event in my life and times. I could count on one hand the number of actual interviews Iíve had since I was 18. It isnít many.

The local wood doctor called aí courting, donít you know. And I went, because my schedule these days isnít exactly what you might call full and Iím ceaselessly in need of amusement. He wanted a Project Manager, I wanted entertainment.

We had a nice chat. He allowed as to how a former employer had given me glowing reviews (that was nice) and talked about what they did (I already knew) and what he needed me to do (I already knew that, too). Then he told me how much the job paid and things really got amusing.

ďOf course, youíll be traveling a lot since we do a lot of out of town work and youíll get a car allowance. But I just canít offer you much more than $XXX as a salary. Why, Iíve checked and nobody makes much more than that locally.Ē

Uh huh. I was making more than that 12 years ago, sport. Check again. Outside of the fast food industry this time.

Now, Iím a good interview, really I am. The fact that I donít do it very often notwithstanding. I look you in the eye and project and volunteer a few tidbits that make you giggle. It wasnít totally necessary at this meeting since he knew me, or knew of me. Iím not an unknown by any means in this area. So I didnít hold his low-ball offer against him. He was looking for a bargain. I know something of his yearly output, and a quick look around the plant revealed it was a little stagnant. So there wasnít much point of trying to ratchet up a bid for my services when I was there more for the entertainment than anything else. He might have even picked up on that. He was, and is, an old school guy who must have viewed me as someone from Mars, because we are totally few and far between. He has survived wood wars of his own, and so have I.

But I did make points for the Outfoxed Crew. Matter of fact, he was a good deal more interested in me as a crew-leading company that he was as a company minded lackey/individual Manager. Since he had just lost a similar crew and was looking for replacements. As always, the need for people who do what Stu and I do is far greater than the supply, and likely always will be. Itís why we started this company in the first place and why weĎve done well with it. Carpenters who can do it all, including run other trades, and are loaded with tools and machinery and vehicles. And with one important caveat. We donít work for everybody, or for just anybody if you will. We pick the customer and itĎs nearly always a contractor or commercial entity. Customerís who are slow to pay generally donít get put on the list ever again. Pretty simple. Everybody who knows of us knows the deal.

I never bought the argument that is always heard in some of the more trendy contractors offices (the oneís I call the Flash Dancerís, who build large and borrow large and have former stewardesses as receptionists). Iíve heard it said more than once that ďWhy, thereís hundreds of carpenters out there begging for work whoíll do this for half your price.Ē Super. Go hire Ďem, sooner the better. Iíve literally watched whole empires fall with that philosophy, that talent is not only prevalent in construction but itís disposable too.

Iím pretty familiar with the trade workers scene in my surrounding states. I keep my ear to the ground, and what I hear, always, is that nobody can find qualified help. The scenario of having waves of available good carpenters died out 30 years ago when I was first coming on board. In 2005, there darn near arenít any at all. Sure, you can get somebody to put siding on a house. Somebody else to put in your wood flooring, or build a deck. A fourth one to install your cabinets, a fifth one your doors. Iíve seen this with my own eyes and I still canít believe that it takes 50 (no kidding) different skill level specialists to do what 2 old men can do. In half the time. On one house. Or one office building.

The excuses are always the same. ďOh, this crew could frame the house, and put in the doors and cabinets too, if they only had the right tools. Or the time. Or the manpower.Ē Horseís ass. They canít do it because they donít know how, plain and simple. Nothing wrong with admitting that. But I can tell you what, it plays hell with those cute Project Manager flow charts when they realize, for the 800th time, that theyíll be hiring multiple specialists to do the work of two. Makes for a difficult day at the old Gantt chart for some dweeb who never swung a hammer in anger, I can tell ye. Project Management? Crisis Management, period.

Whew, where was I? Oh yeah, the interview.

We shook hands and I passed along a business card, grinning, telling him that I was sorry for deflecting a perfectly fine interview for a potential employee into a sales call for a company I was purporting to be leaving. He didnít seem to mind at all, since it was to his benefit in a way, and my opinion of him went up a little. Hey, if he sends work our way and pays his bills I might even put him on the ĎAí list.

Tomorrow, a more difficult interview. One that is solely of the Outfoxed Crew variety. More drumming up work. But itís with a woman, an Operations Manager, an entitlement that gives her leverage over, but not knowledge of, me and the boys.

I interview poorly with women, whoíve probably (probably, I said) never swung a hammer in anger or in any other way. Unless it was at some lecher at the Watering Hole their significant other.

God I love unemployment. Just ask my wife.

Swing yer hammers here in the Guestbook.

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