Back in 1996, I became a union sheet metal apprentice. A different experience from anything that I had been a part of up to that time. My first Christmas as a sheet metal worker was a most memorable one; Mostly in part due to a lesson learned.
It was customary where I worked to stop work on Christmas Eve to enjoy the Yuletide joy and receive gifts from our employer. There would a gift certificate and then everyone would receive tickets for additional gift drawings. It was and even after always had been a most enjoyable time. On this Christmas Eve, I had decided to buy gifts for a less fortunate family, and after the party, I would deliver them. So I let everyone know that I had to leave by 2 to get the presents out.
From the get-go, I started out drinking screw drivers… Stiff screw drivers…A lot of stiff screw drivers. I would say that by 1pm, I was a little bit tipsy. So I decided to slow down and switch to beers. This was a good thing, because one of the gifts that I had won, a pair of Vise Grips, seemed to have no other purpose (as I so eloquently blurted out “What the f*ck are these good for?!?!”) other than holding beer cans at the time.
I think that about around 1:40pm, time started slowing down… to the point that I believe that it stopped all together. The clock on the wall didn’t have a second hand, and the minute hand was becoming immeasurable in its ever so slight movement. This seeming stoppage of time allowed me to get to the point of intoxication, that I raffle had to be held as to who was going to drive me home. And it was held…And someone did win. So about an what seemed an hour later and yet the clock read 1:42pm, it was time for me part with the rest of the party-goers. However, I did insist on finding the owner before leaving to wish him a Merry Christmas. And I did. I let him know that he was “One of the best employers that I ever had.” He in return told me that I was a really good employee.
After that, it all becomes a bit blurry. I remember riding in the little Mazda pickup, waving at another one of my bosses through the back window for most of the trip home. I don’t recall if she followed for my own safe being, or in the thoughts that the train would derail becoming quite the wreck, and would see it, but never the less, I waved to her on the way home, for most of the ride. I don’t remember being home, save going into the bathroom. I do remember waking up at my at the time, mother-in-law’s house at about 10:30pm, on that Christmas Eve.
Two o’clock never came for me on that day. I didn’t get the presents delivered that day. My kids missed out on me being home on Christmas Eve. I wasn’t able to get my car home for about a week, as my wife at the time had refused to take me to get the car that I abandoned there. And Christmas morning was one big headache…
But as in all experiences of life, there was a great lesson to be learned. And I did. Never trust wall clocks, because 2 o’clock may never come.
The multi-purpose tool: