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Chapter 13: Scene 46: It's my fourth day as crew chief

     


ThinkLink: What kind of a worker are you? Do you work hard and feel good about getting the job done? Or do you do just enough to get by?

       The sky's gray and a cool breeze off the ocean comes in through the trees along the trail. No rain yet. Sweat and dirt gum up on my face and neck. The trail we're working on is in a state park just above a beach. The work's hard at Eagle Crest, but it's a heck of a lot easier than it was the first couple of weeks. At least, my muscles don't hurt as much at night.


       I don't care how many times Corrie or Jerry or Dan or any of the rest of the staff say Spring's coming soon, I don't believe the sun ever comes out here. Working outdoors was what I liked best about living at the ranch and it's the best thing about Eagle Crest. Way better than Taylor Cottage and the rest of Fire Oak. The big drag is listening to the other guys gripe . Like they never worked hard before. Probably haven't. The worst of them's Randy. Like a Nightmare come true, Randy shows up here the week after I come. After all his loud talk. After him saying he'd never go to one of their stupid group places. After all that, he's here, bitching and moaning.


       I'm thinking about what to do next along this stretch of the trail when I hear Dan call me. "Hanson, get your crew back down to the clearing. Time to break for lunch." I'm crew chief this week. Doesn't mean a whole lot. Just about every guy gets to be crew chief if he's here long enough.


       I holler back to him, "We're coming." I turn back up the trail and yell, "All right, you guys, bring your tools and come back to the bus. Five minutes 'til eats," I hurry them on. I want to get to my lunch and eat it sitting on a log looking out over the ocean. When the clouds blow away, I can see out to where the earth curves right out of sight. In some ways the waves are like the hills at home, with the last ones rolling right over into the sky.


       I count the guys ... five ... six. "Who's left up there? Get a move on." Slow thumps let me know a couple more are coming down. It's Neil and Randy coming around the bend in the trail. So far Randy just shoots me dirty looks, but I keep an eye on him. Without Tony around I know I'm on my own if he pulls anything.


       Down in the meadow, all the snarling and arguing starts up again.


       "I got three blisters on one hand."


       "Not as big as mine on my heel, sucker. It's big as a quarter."


       "What you whining for? Look at this bruise? It's turning purple."


       It's my fourth day as crew chief. I like making out schedules and planning jobs, but I hold my breath when it's my turn at latrine duty to clean out the outhouses at the parking lot next to the trailhead . Dan says crew chiefs got to clean outhouses to keep them humble .


       I thought we'd be done with this stretch of trail Dan laid out before now, but we're no where near finished. These city kids would make piss-poor ranch hands , I know that.


       When it's time to go back to work, I get the crew together ... almost. "Neil, Randy, where the hell are you guys?" Pretty soon, they drag up to the trailhead and we climb up to where we left off. Not much gets done, though. Randy keeps out of my sight and more guys keep disappearing up around the side of the hill.



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 Updated on 5/13/04

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