“Why’d you do that?”

About ten years ago(!) I worked a summer and a winter for Scarano Boat Building in Albany, NY. I was just out of high school and heading off to college, so it seemed like it would be good experience. Heck, if anything, it’s a lot of fun to be able to claim I used to build boats.

Of course, technically I can really only claim to have worked on one boat, the Friendship of Salem, which was to be a replica of a ship originally built 200 years earlier. And actually, I only worked on a small portion of it. Most of my work was in as a spiling planks, which for some random reason I was good at. This turned out to be great, since the other option would have been sanding the parts of the boat that had already been planked. My friend Tony had that job, and it was somewhat less than desirable. Of course, my work involved wearing a paper suit that was airtight, so that we didn't get epoxy on us. In the summer time this was less than desirable. We had to use all of the “Fast West” epoxy before it set, so we often ended up having our break different from everyone else.

I had a few other jobs while I was there. The Friendship was built inside the large warehouse that was Scarano Boat Building, which was next to the Hudson River. During the summer I was there, they decided it was time to clean out an area between the building and the river that was filled with old pallets, because they eventually would be taking out the wall and running the boat along some tracks in to the river (unfortunately, I wasn’t there when it happened, but it must have gone well). As it turned out, bees had taken to the pallets, and weren't too happy with my attempting to move them to a trash bin with the forklift. I eventually hit a happy medium of ramming a pile with the forklift, and then spraying the bees as they came out with some insecticide. Cruel, but effective.

Anyhow, the winter I was there they had lifted up the boat some more so we could but fiberglass on the keel of the ship. For a smaller boat one would normally flip the boat over, but this was clearly impossible for us, both because of the sheer enormity of such a thing, and also the fact that people were still working on it on the inside. Thus, there were many of us scrunched or lying underneath the boat, trying to get fiberglass to stick instead of doing its normal tendency of falling down.

One of the people I was working with was Steve. For whatever reason, we needed a weight, so I went and found a heavy block of steel. As I was handing it to him, it slipped from my hands and landed corner first in to his thigh. He clutched his leg and writhed on the floor for a long time, until he finally looked up at me, and asked with a completely straight face, “Why’d you do that?”


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