The sun comes up to signify another Monday. It is another day here in purgatory. I say this because I see this as a way-station. Another week begins, and of course, the ideas of what’s to come and what awaits me when I punch my time clock are beginning to filter through.
I am a blue collar man, which in reality, makes me no different from a white collar man. I am here to earn a living and to make a mutually beneficial exchange. This is what a job is. I give them my time and my work and in exchange, I am paid for my efforts.
I have been this way for almost 20 years now. I stared as an apprentice and then worked my way up to become a stationary engineer in Local 94. I have met so many different kinds of people. I have seen tragedies and successes. I have worked with the best in the world and I worked with the worst in the world. I have seen men that lived the easy life and as well, I have met men that came from the toughest background and lived through the toughest upbringing.
I have worked all sorts of shifts. I worked from 10 to 6, 6 to 2, 8 to 4, and 4 to midnight. I never worked midnight to 8 as a shift, but I’ve been on it a few times, just because I had to. I’ve worked long weeks with long hours of overtime. I’ve hurt my back. I’ve worked dirty jobs, and I mean the filthiest kinds. I’ve seen crazy things. I experienced a jumper in one of my buildings. I have had the extraordinary benefit of meeting some of the most remarkable people in the world. I have met the most beautiful too and yes, I have also seen the ugliest.
I have stood on the rooftops of each of my job sites and watched the sun come up above my section of Manhattan. I’ve watched men retire and seen new hires become bosses.
I tell you, I have met the best people in my life here. I have met second fathers; one of which I laugh and tell people. “He loves me like the son he never wanted.” but he tells me he doesn’t like when I say this because that makes him old. I have had the chance to earn. I have been given the opportunity to provide and I also have the support of a union delegate, which I appreciate, because he is a man of respect and I do admire him.
I have seen so many things because of what I do. I am thinking about how this all began and it amazes me how things change (and yet so many things stay the same).
Back when I started, I figured that I would do this until I figured out what I wanted to do when I grow up. Well, I’m 46 now. I’m still working hard. I’m still a “Union Guy,” and while yes, I have branched out in the recovery community and I do other things, I’m still not sure what I will do when I grow up Then again, I don’t know if growing up is really what I want to do anyway.
But now, the sun is on its way up. And me, I am finishing my last gulp of coffee. There is snow on the ground, which sort of illuminates in the wake of morning’s first light. I have a bus to catch. I have a few emails to send and people to call.
It amazes me though. Another Thanksgiving is about to pass; another Christmas too, and then another year. This year will make it 20 years in the union.
So much has changed but yet, so much of me feel the exact same way and to be honest, I am grateful for every minute of it