Sordid Tales From The Front Lines

The nastiest thing I have seen - big old Gus

It was a normal day on the front lines of construction.

Materials didn’t show up. Neither did a crew.

Another crew was a half day late because they had been finishing up the last 2 minutes work at another job site.

There was a drawn out voice message from customer - something about a bunch of extra work they thought should be included because … well the reason seemed to make sense to them.

Nothing too unusual … then things changed fast … something happened which will forever be scorched into my memory.

I would pay anything to have the vision, er, I mean the trauma erased from my brain.

What I saw was, quite possibly, the nastiest thing I have ever seen … 

Right in front of me was a huge big sheet of drywall, the biggest of the big, being held to the ceiling but bending down at either end - to the point of breaking – being held up in the center by a chubby dude facing the other direction.

Now, I knew from the chubby outline that this wasn’t just any guy, it was none other than Gus, a wall boarder of European decent.

Gus would brag that he could make wall board fit, anywhere, anytime, pretty much every time, and if the wall board broke he would buy a round of drinks for everyone who saw it happen.

I had never heard of him buying anyone drinks because the truth was, he was real good at what he did.

But this time things had gone horribly sideways - Gus and his proud European ego were taking a spectacular pounding.

It seems his belt had recently decided it was tired of holding up his pants - after all, he did have pretty big pants.

It also seems that his pants were not the only thing that had fallen down at the same time - gravity had taken it all off - if you know what I mean.

Now, the thing is, the mystical forces that hold belts together could have quit anytime, but they decided the best time to let go was right when Gus was holding this big daddy sheet of wall board - way above his head.

But Gus, being the proud stubborn guy that he was, had decided many years before that he was never going to be buying anyone drinks … ever.

So there he stood … in a deadlock with the wallboard.

At the same time a few of his co-workers, being the understanding guys that they were, had decided to make a noise and let everyone on site know it was time for Gus to start buying drinks – and if that meant offering him a little friendly encouragement to drop the wall board, well that was ok.

My timing had been flawless; I had innocently walked in right in time to get a front row seat as handfuls of drywall mud were being pelted at a very-exposed-glowing-white-back-end – belonging to Gus.

Now trust me on this one, it was not a pretty sight.

Then boom. Maybe it was the wallboard, maybe it was Gus, but things snapped.

The air was filled with dust and the foulest language you can ever imagine. And as fast as he could, Gus bent right over to pull up his pants.

The problem is, fate had given me a front row seat, only few feet behind him – truly the wrong place at the wrong time. I witnessed the whole thing - in what seemed to be slow motion.

There was Gus fumbling and stumbling, and I got to see it all.

To this day no amount of therapy can undo the horror of what I was exposed to. I still have nightmares. They may never go away.

In the end (no pun intended), Gus finally cooled down and even managed to see some humour in his brief encounter with being on stage.

But when it comes to buying drinks, forget it, Gus won’t budge, he’s not buying drinks for anyone.

Score: Wallboard: 0. My trauma: -1 Nobody won this one.

Yet, every cloud has a silver lining - I can always be grateful that Gus wasn’t facing my direction when I walked in.