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Old 03-12-2012, 15:00   #1
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Previous careers

For the past few days I have been thinking about my previous career in the metal fabrication field. In a way I hate the welding field, in another way I love it, another way I miss it, another way I do not miss it,, if any of that makes sense let me know.

There is something about leaving a job at the end of the day, and you can see something that you built. There is a certain satisfaction in doing a hard days work, going home hot, tired and covered with dried sweat. Its something that a lot of people do not understand, and something a lot of people will never do.

For some people taking the trash out is hard work.

My idea of hard work involves an overhead crane, a pair of straps (nylon or cable), a piece of metal weighing 10+ tons, cutting torch, hammer, wedge and a welding machine.

Its difficult to explain, but there is just something about building a physical object with your hands.

At the last welding job I held, we built some transportation containers for offshore drilling rigs. They were a drum about 8 feet in diameter, with a steel frame around it, a ladder to climb on top, and they were going to Australia. I thought it was pretty cool I was building something that was going 1/2 way around the world.

Another place I worked, it was a structural shop that frames, walkways, handrails,,, just all kinds of stuff from beams and angle iron. My job there was a welder. We worked 4 - 10 hour days and got 3 day weekends. the problem was, the company did not provide health insurance or vacation time. All it basically was was a pay check.

One piece of trash company I worked for, the owner figured up how many hours a 40 hour work week would be over the course of a year. If you missed a day or two during that year and did not make up your hours, the owner would deduct that time from your vacation. The owners idea of a raise was 25 cents, and we only got raises once a year. 25 cents an hour did not even cover changes to the price of gas to get back and forth to work.

Another place I worked, they had a shift that worked 12 hour shifts monday - thursday, then a weekend shift that worked friday - sunday. I got hired on the weekend shift. After not seeing my kids for about a month I quit and found another job.

My first real job in 1986, right out of high school I was making $5 an hour. Minimum wage was $3.35 at the time. No health insurance for my family, no real vacation time, the owner was a hot head that was likely to fire an employee if the employee said something wrong.

Back in the late 1980s I worked for a company where our regular shift was 50 hours 1 week, 70 hours the next week, 50 hours, 70 hours, 50 hours, 70 hours,,,, repeat. When the real overtime kicked in, I would work 80 hours a week for 6 - 8 weeks at a time. Even though we worked almost twice the amount of time an average person works, we only got 1 week of vacation time.
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Old 03-12-2012, 15:16   #2
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Were those shops all in Texas?
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Old 03-12-2012, 15:35   #3
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Well, in my checkered past, I've worked at just about every job imaginable...well, with the exception of Mafia contract killer. I don't believe I have the right temperament for that.

I've welded, carpentered, sold tractors, vacuum cleaners, curated at a museum, crop dusted, preached, missionaried, farmed, taught science in schools (elementary and high school), made telescopes and taught optics at two vocational schools and one university, wrote (still write, especially restaurant reviews, which is a dirty job, but someone has to do it), shucks, like I said, I've done about everything...

But of course, that can probably be said of most any other trifling, lazy, flight of ideas addled guy with a ridiculously short attention span, cursed with way too many hobbies and interests, most of which are bloomin' expensive.
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Old 03-12-2012, 17:02   #4
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I graduated from a diesel mechanics coarse while going to high school, I landed a partime job assisting highly experienced mechanics repairing/rebuilding engines from locomotives, large boats, dozers, ect. It was great fun and excellent pay working on those massive loco's (my favorite), hell I would have done it for free at that age.

I was very fortunate they liked me, I was the youngest person there, but I busted my ass for them too, they also gave me an allowance 50% for schooling in hydraulic mechanics, and then industrial design. That was my start.
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Old 03-12-2012, 19:18   #5
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Originally Posted by magnomark View Post
Were those shops all in Texas?
Yes, in the Beaumont and Lake Charles area.
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Old 03-12-2012, 19:29   #6
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Some how I knew that-Tex.I used to work for gulf states(elec contractors from corpus cristy,gulport,etc.Worked around a "bunch"-kellog rust international.And always heard about the low Texas wages.I guess that's what happens in right to work/too close to borders states.Up here we say send all of them mexicans back to mexico with a californian under each arm!Btw-I spent about a week in Lake Charles/Westlake area back in 75 helping out in a transmission shop when I was on leave-not my idea of vacation.
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Old 03-12-2012, 19:33   #7
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Originally Posted by magnomark View Post
Some how I knew that-Tex.I used to work for gulf states(elec contractors from corpus cristy,gulport,etc.Worked around a "bunch"-kellog rust international.And always heard about the low Texas wages.I:
Up until the early 1980s working in a welding shop paid a good wage. that was until the shipyards shut down and put thousands of people out of work.

the early 1980s saw the following companies close:

Livingston shipyard in Orange Texas - out of business
Bethlehem shipyard in Beaumont Texas - out of business
American Bridge in Orange Texas - out of business

Between Bethlehem shipyard and Livingston shipyard, you are probably talking about close to 5,000 people out of a job.

From the early 1980s, to the late 1980s, people went from working in a shipyard making 14, 15, 16 an hour, to trying to beg a job at $5 - $8 an hour.

30 years later, wages are finally starting to catch up to where they should have been for the past 3 decades.
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Old 03-12-2012, 20:20   #8
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Oh yea-Arranj Texas.....BTDT!
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