Concrete Guarantee

May 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  My Uncle Joe is my cousin Joey’s dad.  Cousin Joe worked in concrete for the union until his hands got fucked up.  He got the job because Uncle Joe got him into the union. 
  I always wondered, by the way, how come none of these guys offered to try to help me get in the union.  After seeing the crap…I’m kinda glad.  I mean, the money would have been better, but I’d rather have my health, such as it is.
  Uncle Joe’s last name is extremely Italian.  And the construction company he worked for–another big Italian name.  I won’t go so far as to say they are "connected," but…
  You do the math.
  Uncle Joe gave me some knowledge one day, perhaps twenty years ago.  He said, "With concrete, you have two guarantees:  It’ll crack, and no one will steal it."
  This is good to know.

Before The Pour

  We are now legal (more or less) in our house.  My dad’s house.  It’s finally starting to feel like ours, but I have trouble calling it that.  I still refer to it as my dad’s house, and the garage is always going to be dad’s garage.
  But now that it is ours, I can see all the projects I want to do to it.  And also some that I *have* to do–why is the kitchen sink always backed up?  Detroit got her income tax refund, and we used a big chunk of that to get the required electrical work done.  The guy gave us a pretty good deal on it, though, good enough that Detroit said, "You know, the difference between what we paid and what we expected to pay is what Joey said a patio would cost."
  We talked to Joey a few times, and then Detroit alluded to the fact that we better get it done before the money is gone.  So I hopped on board, and we started making concrete plans…for concrete.  (I kill me.)
  The garage is big.  It’s roughly 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep.  It is deeper, in fact, than the house is, and since it sits flush with the front of the house, it extends beyond the back of it into the back yard.  About thirteen feet, I would say.
  This creates a two-wall corner in the backyard that, quite luckily, puts the area we want the patio in the shade in the afternoon.  I am not a sun-dog.  Originally we wanted to make it a sixteen by sixteen foot square, but later amended that, because we agreed that keeping it even with the back of the garage would be aesthetically more pleasing.  We But we could go wider–
  So the final plan became 13 by 18.
  Previously, when we had the big dumpster, I dug out the grill and the lamp that were set in concrete and connected to the gas.  When the gas man came to fix a leak, I had him also permanently cap that line off in the house, so I could remove the lines outside.  We were ready to go.  Over the weekend, or last week, or whenever it was, I helped Joey get his tiller fixed, so now he could use it to till the ground and make it easier to dig.
  Joey knows what he is doing.  I asked him–we want to be able to use it on Monday–when would we have to pour?  And will we be able to?  I had in mind that if it couldn’t be ready on Memorial Day, maybe we should put it off until the following weekend.
  He said, "We need to pour on Friday.  And I intend to pour on Friday."
  Okay.  Good enough.
  Wednesday he had the tiller, and he had Brandon to help.  That may have been the first problem.  But the second problem he came to was a previous foundation in the excavation site.  I said, "Oh, yeah–there was a patio here along time ago that they tore out to put the garage in.  I didn’t realize it had a foundation."  Or a footing, which is more like what it was.  Still–
  Thursday, Joey had Brandon and Alex.  And Joey brought the jackhammer to knock the old foundation down a little.  They dug, they moved old concrete, they shoveled, and they brought in rock and shoveled some more.  The boys have not seen manual labor ever like this in their lives, except on TV.
  I had planned on placing conduit from the back of the house under the concrete and out to the shed for electrical, but decided that I could do it later and go from the back of the garage.  It would be a shorter distance and I wouldn’t have to do it right then and there, so it was a win-win deal. 
  Thursday night I took a meeting with Joey to get the plan and status.  Friday, he was going to come in early and set the forms up, the go to a doctor’s appointment.  The truck would be here at 130.  That’s GO time.
  It’s GO time for a few reasons.  First, when the truck is ready to pour, it’s ready to pour.  We have to pour.  Twenty-five minutes is what we get, a dollar per minute for each additional.
  Secondly, the mix of the concrete itself.  It’s better for the composition of materials to pour it fast also.  Twenty-five minutes.
  Since this is in the back yard and there is a garage in the way, the pour will be done roughly like this:  Truck in driveway, we catch it in wheel-barrows and wheel it back.  Joey estimates 30 wheelbarrow loads. 

  I looked up concrete on Wikipedia, and learned all kinds of things.  For instance, did you know that concrete invented penicillin?  Concrete was the first man on the moon?  And the battle of 1812 was over concrete’s conquest of the Louisiana Purchase.  I trust Wikipedia implicitly, because I’m a gullible moron.
  Actually, concrete was used in ancient Rome, which is why many of those structures still stand today.  It seems to me that they had better concrete than we do now.  Also, the secret of concrete was lost for a few thousand years, and was rediscovered in the sixteen or seventeen hundreds.  Look it up, because I don’t want to copy and paste.  Also they allude to the fact that–and I remember reading this 20 years ago–there is a theory that the pyramids were actually built by mixing and pouring, not cutting and hauling.  Yeah, those stones were powdered, hauled up in bags, poured into a form, mixed and set.  If so, we still don’t have THAT secret…
  The Romans knew that adding horse hair made concrete less liable to crack while it hardened, and adding blood made it more frost-resistant.  So horse hair was the first rebar.  I looked around for some blood. 
  Joey told me there is a difference between "drying" and "curing," but I didn’t really understand it until I read up on it.  Drying is when the water evaporates.  Curing is a chemical reaction in the concrete where the water and cement hydrate to form a crystalline structure.  You want to keep it wet while it cures so it doesn’t dry too fast, that will make it brittle. 
  I also read that in some concrete, it can actually cure for decades, getting stronger and stronger over the course of that time.  Wow.  Concrete is some pretty cool shit.

After The Pour

  Afterwards, I had to come back to work.  The timesheets were already in for the payroll period, and I had to work the time.  So, after the pour, I took a shower and went back to the bank.
  But I was going to leave work at one, since the truck was due at 130.  I decided to leave at noon, in case the truck was early.  It was– it got there about 10 minutes after I got home, before 1245.
  Joey was there, and I met Dan, a friend of Joe’s that he was paying (that I was paying) to help.  Me and the boys were going to grunt the wheelbarrows, and Joe and Dan were going to be the finishers.  Appropriate, since none of us knew what we were doing.
  The truck arrived, the mix was set, and the driver started us off with half-loads–heavy, but not bad.  We used two wheelbarrows, and switched off of them so each of us could rest.  Although some of us rested more than others.  The boys did okay for the most part.  I was red and out of breath, so I’m sure they were.  Brandon gave up and sat down–I guess he’s not used to his heart beating that fast.  A sedentary life is not good.
  Still, it was about 28 wheelbarrows-full, and I think it was about 11-13-14, Brandon, Alex, and me.  Brandon bailed right before it was done, and Alex bailed right after, which means that the work they should have done (picking shit up, washing out the wheelbarrows, shit like that) I got to do.
  While I Dan and Joe were doing the finishing, I was cleaning it up.  Dan noticed and said about it.  "Your help gone?"
  "Yeah, they think they’re in the fuckin union."
  We were down to the finishing, and so I left Joey to his craft and took a shower before heading back to work.  After that, though, I’d like to add a guarantee to the two my uncle told me:
  Concrete is fucking heavy.

Small World

  I talked briefly to Dan, and he seemed like a good guy.  He has delivered pizza in the past, so we had a common ground.  When I got ready to go back to work, he asked where, and I told him.  He said his sister works there.  Hmm–
  I get here and I look her up, she’s over in the title company, whom I do most of my work for.  Her name is Sandy.  Next to Sandy is another chick, and she recognized my cousin’s name.  She is friends with Joey’s sister, my cousin Gina.  And–her sister is the ex of a guy that we all knew and hung around with, Bobby.  I haven’t seen Bobby in decades.  Two of them.
  I never did catch her name–


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