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I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days that all these memories come flooding back to me.


I had already written a two-page Snippet recently, but then realised that I was just repeating an earlier one. I was so chuffed with it as well, as I had written it on this new keyboard that I bought some time ago, but had to revert back to my old one, as it clashed with my firewall. This one is a lot smaller, about the size of a laptop one, but it has rubber keys, which means that I no longer annoy Mk2 with my constant clicking while typing. Another downside to it is the fact that I have hands like shovels and tend to miss the key I am aiming for. I also have a habit of hitting the Caps Lock key, which is even more annoying as I type away for a while only to look up and see that the last few lines are all in capitals. In fact, I am tempted to revert back to my old one, but then I would have Mk2 on at me for the clicking noise I would make.

It's funny how we have to constantly change or adapt to various things as we go through life, and just as we are getting used to a particular item or situation, we have to change everything in the name of progress or whatever they like to call it. In the past, my life as a sub-contractor was always changing, whether it was to a new construction site or offshore rig or even to a different country. You had to be prepared to constantly adapt to such things, which at times was not all that bad really, as you could find yourself working alongside some self-opinionated bloke who really got on your nerves or just a bad contract in general. Either way, you had the satisfaction of knowing that in a few months you would be away from it altogether, so you just settled down to that fact and looked forward to it.

Of course, it could work out the opposite way, where you find yourself working on a really good project and with easy going and capable workmates, in which case you were sad when it came time to move on. I must admit, however, that I was not fortunate enough to be on many such projects. Yet we could always find a way of making the best of things. I think that was a really important attitude to have if you wanted to carry on working as a subby, as we were called. There was a time when I was a company man and not a subby; in fact, I had five years of employment on a salaried position on the staff — well, three of them on the staff. For the other two I was an hourly-paid welder, prior to being promoted onto the staff.

In fact, if I had turned down the staff job, I would have been kept on — it was just by pure misfortune that I put myself into the redundancy position. You see, I was promoted from being a welder to the quality control department, as a welding inspector, and then again later to the training school as a welding instructor — only to find that after a year or so they closed the welding school down, which left me redundant. Looking back on it all now, being paid off was a good thing for me, really, as it gave me the opportunity to work on other locations and broaden my experience, a fact that came true when I found myself back on the very site from which I was made redundant a few years earlier.

Here I met a few blokes who had remained there, and to be quite frank were no further forward with their ability to do the job or indeed their attitude as regards to working relationships. Yes, they had moved up the promotional ladder, but only by their time spent working the company and not by any extra abilities or skills they had learned, and to be honest I think they felt threatened by folk like myself and the others who found themselves back on that site after being made redundant. Not only because we could remember them from what they were like before attaining their high management positions, but more like they were not prepared to learn that there was more then one way of doing any particular job and that we had picked up more experience while on our travels in the construction industry and learned more techniques.

For example, there was a totally new type of welding that most of us had learned on our travels, which was far superior to the old-fashioned manual stick method — so much faster that, in fact, it had totally revolutionised the welding part of the industry. As things worked out for me, I had been re-employed by my old company as a subby to instruct all the welders and their supervisors on how to use this new method, in the reopened welders' training school. We had to train all the welders up to test standard, then get them qualified on this new process. The school could only train twenty men at a time, as there were only four of us including the boss, so the job would take around three years. The supervisors did not have to test out, however — they just had to have a working knowledge on it. I had come full-circle, which was quite fortunate for me, as being employed there it meant I could go home every evening, which is something I had missed for the past four years while working away from home.

As this training was going to last for around three years, it meant I could spend some time with my kids and be more involved with them. So I was quite content with my lot, but it was not long before I was having problems with some of the welders and even some of the supervisors. They seemed to take it badly that I was their instructor and they were being told what to do by a person they regarded as 'a subby'. To make matters worse, I was earning more than them. This had to be kept quiet, and I was asked by my old boss, the training school manager, not to bring the subject up, as it would cause even more bad feelings with the supervisors.

Of course, not all the welders felt like that. In fact, most of them were only too happy that we were all reunited again, as I had made a lot of friends during my initial time while working there. I got the feeling that the training manager did not like the fraternisation between myself and the welders, but then again, he knew that it would not be problem, as I knew a lot of the trainee welders from the last time I was working there as an instructor, as I had been their original instructor when they came to the school to train as welders. I had a good working relationship with the training manager, as I had always been the spokesman sent in by all the other instructors to speak to him if we had any grievances, back in the old days when the school had twelve instructors working round the clock on a three-shift pattern. Now there were only four of us, but even then I was the one who would always stand up to him when he went on one of his bad-tempered moods, which I must admit was not all that often, as there was nowhere near as much stress upon us as there had been in the old days.

Having said that, every time this problem came up where objections were raised as to my being in charge, I would simply send the bloke concerned into the office for a chat with the boss (as I called him). Then, lo and behold, they would come out of there with a totally different attitude to the job in hand. I never asked them what was said, but knowing the boss from the old days and how he could put his point of view over, I knew it would have some effect on them. Yeah! I liked those years — not only did I enjoy being an instructor, but I also liked the idea of going home every night.

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