Off Its Hinges

#Workplace

Wed, Jul 21st, 2004 05:00 by Lord Lansdowne ARTICLE

Before I found myself and managed to escape, I worked security for a combination of luxury condominiums and a construction site--some sort of all in one deal. They placed me inside this tiny little booth that was as spacious as it was warm and built with the same durability of a sandcastle. Those unfortunate souls that worked in this place referred to it as Das Booth, an homage to some German submarine movie you may have heard about. The shaking, the dampness, the darkness, the cold, none of these things went unnoticed to either us or the submariners of that movie.

The old door of Das Booth was in such sorry shape that the foremen guys decided it was time for a new one. When you consider that the window was hanging on by a tread and the door was split in half--a feature which prevented us from ever warming up the place to anything above five degrees celcius in the winter--this was quite a kind and loving consideration.

This excuse of a door had been affixed after it had been ripped off by a cold winter wind and sent flying down the street, where it nearly killed two pedestrians. And, while amusing at first, the hilarity of the event quickly died when we froze are nuts off, unprotected by the cold.

The door was mounted back on the frame by the construction workers on what had been defined as "temporary." While this reduced the effects of the elements and improved the brave efforts of the three heaters we had at our disposal, it also gave "eternity" a new word in the thesaurus.

After much whining and complaining from the lot stuck working in Das Booth, it was finally decided that the construction guys would install a new door for us. And lucky for us, they put Einstein in charge of this job.

Einstein was one of the main guys in charge of the new buildings being built. Dressed with the look of authority, he'd assign crews, prepare jobs and do a bunch of other things that seemed important for the proper construction of a building. Appearances, I learned, can be very deceiving.

The first thing he did, is to put the hinges that open inside. Then he mounted the door. Except the door opens to the outside. For some reason, the door didn't open. Everyone is baffled by this, including Einstein. Except, of course, those working security. It may have had something at to do with the fact that we all had degrees and the only reason we happened to be working security was our inability to find employment. Or maybe we were just more observant than your average, experienced construction worker.

I had mentioned this as I noticed the progress being made on the installation and Einstein, understandably, was not amused once he realized I had been right all along. Nobody likes the obvious, painful truth, evidence of his or her own idiocy, pointed out to them, sprinkled with a hefty dosage of "told-you-so"s.

When he finally mounted the door correctly, (hinges and door swinging on the outside) I pointed out that the screws were less than an inch long. Considering the booth was made of wood that would normally be snobbed by a pyromaniac, that perhaps longer ones would be more appropriate. Since the word "sturdy" could never be used for this fine example of craftsmanship, at least the gentle concept of giving it a chance to survive another storm may be worthy of a tiny consideration. Alternatively, mounting the door so that it opened to the inside of the booth could've been an even healthier option, giving less a chance to the wind to repeat the door's last trek down the street.

Being very proficient in his job, Einstein didn't listen to me.

A couple of days after the installation of the new door, a snow storm took the door off its hinges. Actually, no. The door was still with the hinges attached. The hinges were attached to both door and the door frame. The door frame went with the door. It was quite remarkable. One moment the booth is warm and cozy, the next it felt as if we were on a plane, a missile had just hit us and we had lost cabin pressure. Twenty-thousand feet up in the air, with cold air blowing our precious paperwork all over the place.

Einstein of course was not amused. One of the foremen begged me not to tell Einstein anything as apparently the fact that I told him this would happen, pissed him off. Oh, I'm sorry.

So he returns ready to mount a new door. This time he puts it so that it swings inside Das Booth so that the wind would not blow the door off. The only problem was that the door is 36.5 inches wide, while the new door frame is 35.5 inches.

So the door should be cut. I, personally, would've measured the door and the frame first, realize the door is too big, make the appropriate cuts and then install it. I would not have installed it, realize it's too big, measure it and then cut it. But what do I know? Obviously I'm not the prodigy of construction here.

So Einstein decides that, since he's already mounted the door, rather than to cut the door on the hinges side, he's going to cut by the lock side. He does this so he doesn't have to dismantle the door again. I start to wonder how he's going to fit the lock back in, once he makes his surgery, but I am hoping that he can't possibly be that stupid. Unfortunately, he turns out to be.

Surprisingly to some and not to others, the lock doesn't fit anymore because an inch is missing for the mechanism to fit. For some reason, he's gets angered by this. Meanwhile I'm starting to understand why tenants in the luxury condos are having so many problems.

One of the other foremen comes in to see the work in progress and is astonished to see how Einstein is going about it.

He points at the newly cut door, with half the lock hanging outside and asks me "Why didn't you tell him?"

Aside from pointing out that I had been told not to say a thing, who is the one that has been working in construction for the last twenty years? And since that question was rethorical, it needed no answer.

So the door remains like that, with half the lock mechanism hanging out, but giving us at least the ability to sort of seal ourselves inside and let the three heaters do their job. "It's just temporary," we're told. We're also told that they're building a real security booth. This one will be made of bricks, will not shake, will be heated properly and even come with a washroom. And it will be ready very soon.

By the time I finally left that job, moving on to less yellowish fields, a yard of dirt and the promised new security booth looked much the same.

Not too long ago, I drove by that old job and was tremendously surprised to see the old security booth still standing. I wasn't surprised because the new booth still hadn't been finished--much less started. Nor was I surprised to see that the old door with the lock mechanism hanging by the side was still there doing it's "temporary" duty. I was just surprised to see that Das Booth itself still stood against the test of time.

Dirtier, with a slight tilt, the scar of a probable impact with a dump truck and looking more shambled than ever. But it still stood, serving its purpose and trying valiantly, albeit with little success, to keep its occupants warm and dry.

And the funniest bit of all of this is that, while driving away, I found myself missing the darned thing.

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