My first real job was working as a laborhand on a natural gas installation crew. My foreman was a short redheaded man known as “Shorty”. Shorty was so short that he had to look up at me as he told me what to do. Though this was somewhat comical to me, he always had the last laugh. Often it felt as if he were singling me out more than other guys on the crew. My only job was to grab a shovel, dig a hole, and find the buried pipe. Shorty points and I dig. That’s how it worked.
Sometimes he would make me dig, what I would later call “dummy holes”. These are holes that have nothing for you to find. There is no pipe in these holes. There is no real reason to dig at all. The foreman would use dummy holes as punishment for guys who didn’t want to do their job. If you tried to protest they just pretend they had picked the wrong spot by mistake. Of course, this was only after you spent a couple of hours digging and sweating. I didn’t like this job and I didn’t like Shorty. To be fair I hadn’t liked this man for a very long time, since I was about eight years old to be precise.
Shorty was not only my boss, he had been my stepfather since I was eight years old. We didn’t get along very well as I made my way through adolescence. At home it didn’t matter if we got along, I could just be a little bitch and leave the house. At work it was different. He was the Boss at work. You were going to show up on time and do your job… or you were going to dig dummy holes all day until you got fired or you quit.
…I was fired.
I hated him even more after he fired me. How could he fire his own stepson? I was so delusional that I decided I could figure this whole “life” thing out on my own. I set off searching for my dream job. No one was going to dictate my life. One month later I was still jobless and broke. Shorty offered me my job back… I accepted.
The truth is Shorty was a great stepfather. He did his best even if I couldn’t see it growing up. He could have easily given up on me but he never did. He rehired me but he never showed me favoritism. He made me do the hard work that was required to build my career in the industry I work in today. Though I proudly say that I have went well beyond those early days, I know where I started and I know who was there when I began.
Shorty is one of the biggest people in my life… even if I still have to get stuff off of the top shelf for him.