Tales From Contracting: Don’t Leave Your Wallet In The Truck

Contracting can be rough, and every contractor has a few stories to tell. We’ve collected anonymous stories from contractors and other FieldPulse clients about lessons they’ve learned while working out in the field. Do you have a story to tell? Send us a message here.

 

This is a stupid story, but in my own defense it took place long ago. Really long ago. But if you’re looking for a story about how common sense isn’t really common, you’ve found one.

 

I’ve been working in roofing for most of my life. I started back in the 90s when I was young and stupid and needed a job that would pay well (and scare some sense into me), and ended up sticking with it. I do most of my work on the administrative side now since my knees can’t quite handle spending that much time up on the roofs, but I’m still in the industry close to thirty years later.

 

In the case of this particular story, I was roughly nine months into the job and I was convinced I knew absolutely everything there was to know about roofing. It was mid-august in the pacific northwest, and we were on a residential job.

 

It was supposed to be a simple on/off on an older 9/12, but as always, it was one of those jobs that just kept growing as we tore into it. Half the decking was bad. The eaves were a nightmare. The wrong shingles were sent to the jobsite. Two guys were fired for showing up drunk. And I was the young stupid guy who tried to grab all of the overtime.

 

On what was supposed to have been the last day of the job, we discovered that one of the sections finished off by a sub we’d brought in wasn’t quite right. The deck on that side was warped and, instead of pulling it up and throwing down more plywood (the smart answer) the sub working that side of the roof decided to just run with it and hope it’d work. The foreman took one look at it, and told us to earn some overtime.

 

Instead of letting a three day project turn into a four day project, the guys and I on the job decided to power through and finish things that evening. Which was a fine idea, except for the fact that the foreman was so worked up about the sub screwing things up that he was stopping us every fifteen minutes to tell us what kind of pike he’d be mounting the man’s head on as soon as he found him.

 

Eventually, us guys up on the ropes got sick of the foreman’s kvetching and I made my mistake:

 

I told the foreman to grab the truck and go fire the sub.

 

In my head, I was certain that the foreman would go find a phone (this was in the early nineties, remember; cellphones weren’t exactly ubiquitous), deliver the news, and get back to the site with the truck so we could pack up and get out whenever it was that we were finished, preferably before sunset. I was also fairly certain, in my naivety, that absolutely nothing would go wrong that would require someone on the ground to help us guys up on the roof.

 

About an hour or so goes by, fairly standard work. We’re all up on the roof, nailing the last of the shingles, when we hear a thunk from the other side of the roof where our ladders are. One of the other guys scrambles over the top, yells something at somebody, comes back over, and asks:

 

“Did you leave your wallet in the work truck too?”

 

The rest of us come up over the top to see that a group of kids had pulled the ladders down. They wanted a hundred dollars to run them back up and the wouldn’t budge on it. We’d all driven our personal vehicles to the job site but, as things usually went, ended up dumping our wallets and cigarettes and such in the work truck since it was parked closest to the site and having stuff you can’t afford to drop in your pocket is an easy way to screw up your week.

 

Which was a great idea, except for when the foreman drives away in the truck on a personal crusade and a bunch of kids steal your ladders.

 

You might be wondering at this moment how long it could possibly take to fire someone and get back to a job site. It was the 1990s, not the 1890s; tracking someone down couldn’t be that hard. There was no way we’d be stuck on that roof for more than, say, an hour, right?

 

Nope.

 

Four hours later, the foreman returned to the job site. Because he left his wallet in one of the tool boxes down on the ground.

 

Don’t leave your wallet in the work truck. And carry a cellphone.

 

 


Contracting can be rough, and every contractor has a few stories to tell. We’ve collected anonymous stories from contractors and other FieldPulse clients about lessons they’ve learned while working out in the field.

Do you have a story to tell? Send us a message here.

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