Rarely do I ever get a call from a contractor of a previous project, unless we’re going to work together soon, and the guys I worked with in Fargo ought not be in the state for a very long time. Someone in their front office thought it was a good idea to invade south Georgia and monetarily speaking, they took a beating. Seven hundred a day for a month in late penalties.
The superintendent sends me an email, an official thing, requesting a phone conversation, with his foremen, and there’s little reason for me to turn it down. We talk for five minutes, I send them some photos of some work done by a subcontractor, and it’s a fight neither I nor my employer have a dog in at all. The foremen leave the conversation, and Bill and I spend some time talking about bridges.
The conversation strays, and I knew it was going to. Bill has an ax to grind. The origin of that phrase is fairly simple, yet it’s been distorted over the years. In the beginning, it meant someone came over to your place, ostensibly for one purpose, but they brought their ax with them because it needed sharpening. Bill started this conversation for one reason but he wanted to tell me something.
“You remember that kid, that one they called Stick Man?” Bill asks.
“Yeah, he thought a branch was a Cottonmouth,” I reply. Dear dog, what one earth has this kid got himself into now?
“He got into some trouble, stole a four-wheeler from a man. He did some work for the man and didn’t get paid. One thing led to another, and he wound up in court. His lawyer told him to plead guilty and take a lesser sentence, but that got him fired. So he went to the judge and told the judge he wanted to prove he was right. The man who hired him said Stick Man did a terrible job painting a shed, and Stick offered to paint something for the judge to prove he had done it right. The judge was impressed, so he bought the paint, and put Stick to work painting the outside of the museum in town. Hell, I thought he would mess it up something terrible, but he actually did a damn good job. Got his ex-brother in law to help him, so the judge vacated the sentence. The story got out and now Stick and his partner both have jobs.”
“That’s damn good news,” I say, and I am happy.
“You going to hire him back?” I ask.
“He won’t work concrete again, the man has found a calling in painting, and the money is decent enough, too,” Bill tells me, and he has to go.
“He wanted me to tell you he wasn’t a bad person, Mike, he wanted you to know that,” Bill says, and this is what he called to tell me.
“Thank you, tell him I said good luck, and give him my number, I’ll hire him to paint my house,” I say, and I mean it.
“Let him get some experience under his belt, he’s getting good but he ain’t there yet,” Bill laughs and the conversation is done now.
Stick Man as a professional painter. I wonder what he would charge to come to Georgia and spend a weekend painting a house?