A job I am thankful not to have

Next door to us is a now-defunct-and-for-sale gas station and convenience store turned Mexican restaurant.  I know; only in Walnut Shade.  On the other side of “the restaurant,” as we call it – actually between the restaurant and the creek road-  is a flat overgrown two to three acres of land that some guy named Altom is buying or leasing or using for free as a staging area for his earth-moving equipment.  There are rumors that he’s going to put up a building there to house his office.  Preliminary clearing and leveling for such a building has been started twice, but all that’s really been on that land for more than a year is some gravel, seed weeds, and some (one to ten, at any given time) large pieces of equipment.

Then, a couple weeks ago, a fence went up.  For those of you in the know, the long section of it runs along Irene’s, beginning at the no trespassing sign that was erected most likely to keep Andrew off all lands Faucett, and running all the way back to the woods just this side of Blansit.  The shorter section of fence runs parallel to Coffee Road between the restaurant’s far side parking lotl and the Altom property.  It only goes about halfway from Irene’s to the highway, though.  Odd.

The fence is chain link, and it went up over a period of a few days.  The short section is maybe six feet high, and it has three of those angled-toward-you rows of barbed wire at the top.  Real neighborly stuff.  The long section is even higher but without the angled affair.  It just has about a thousand and a half little twists at the top.

So the fence went up and I thought, “Hmmm.  Seems like a lot of money to spend to enclose only one-and-a-half sides of a weedy gravel field.”  But then, one day last week, I saw something incredible.  A man was out there threading dark green plastic slats through that fencing.  You know what I mean.  It’s that stuff that you thread vertically over, under, over, under each wire of the chain link fencing, so that when you’re done it has kind of a screen effect.  It’s not solid, but it’s less see-through than just naked chain link.

I thought about those slats while I was walking the other morning.  It took a few days for the guy to thread them all, and I found myself wondering how many of those green slats he had to thread.  Inquiring minds, you know, so I decided to try to figure it out.

I got really nervy and walked down Irene’s as far as the no trespassing sign.  I hadn’t set foot on that road at all in probably two and half years.  No one shot me.  I stood there evaluating the fence situation.  I estimated that there were roughly 60 slats in one section (between uprights) of fence, and I loosely counted about 25 sections from there to the woods.  My lightning fast mind then calculated that that poor fellow had threaded something on the order of 1500 dark green slats through that fencing!  That’s one THOUSAND five HUNDRED long skinny pieces of plastic going over under over under over under. . .

Like George, I was curious.  Was he paid by the day, or the job, or the section, or the slat?  Was he unable to find any more meaningful work in our fair county?  Or does slat threading just pay really well?  On the other hand, what kind of person would thread slats like that all day long – and for more than one day?!?  Does he have a criminal record?  Does he thread slats on jobs all over the country, or was this a one-time gig?  I’ve done a bit of boring, menial labor in my day, but I must confess that I’ve never done ANYTHING as mind-numbingly boring as slat threading.  Even grading algebra is more interesting than that!

This gives me perspective.  I can never again complain about tasks like ironing (where you just keep shoving and smoothing and squeezing and setting – and in the summer, sweating) , or cooking (in which you spend up to two hours creating something tasty only to have it inhaled by your family members in seven and a half minutes flat), or sweeping or dusting or cleaning bathrooms (jobs which must be done, but which must be done again almost as soon as they’re done the first time).  None of those tasks pay as me well as the slat threader is probably paid, but at least they do allow a person to look at something unique or move from place to place or at the very least be interrupted repeatedly by someone saying, “Mom,” on a regular basis.

I have decided that the fence on the other side of the restaurant must be for aesthetic purposes only.  It clearly doesn’t keep anything or anybody in or out.  And the green is nice.  I’d certainly rather gaze on green while I’m walking than than on, say, neon orange.  And I’m really very thankful that my job(s) do not include slat threading.

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