Steel in the News
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Posted by Ted Sheppard on January 19, 2011 at 9:39 AM.
One of the best parts about our business is the people you meet and work with. Some are more memorable than others. A very memorable person was Joe Blank (not the real name or initials). Others were always asking me if I knew him prior to telling me their experience with him. Oh by the way, Joe Blank had a wooden leg.
I started to get ready for these whenever I heard the words, “Do you know Joe Blank?” On one such occasion, a man was sent to a project that was out in the boonies. My friend was an inveterate gambler, and he asked if there were any poker games that were open for his participation. He was told that there was usually one in Joe Blank’s motel room. My friend went over that evening and he was let into the game. He said things were going fine until around midnight when Joe got up from the table went over to his bed, dropped his trousers, removed his leg, threw it on the bed and hopped back to the table. My friend said that this caused him to lose all concentration, and he did not win another hand that night.
The district manager of operations for Bethlehem Steel, Bill Money (also a pseudonym), wanted to hire someone with steel erection experience. Bill wanted this person to work in the fabrication shop’s shipping department. I did not know this when Bill asked me the question. When I said that I did know Joe, Bill said, “He says he has worked as a superintendent, a foreman, a field engineer and a timekeeper in the field.” I replied that he had indeed worked in all of those positions. Bill then asked me what kind of a person he was. I said that he was a good person but a little eccentric. Bill said that no one was as eccentric as he was. To which I replied, “Oh, you sleep in your car, too.” When Joe ran out of money due to playing cards, he would sleep in his car until he could get another stake. Bill hired him any way, thank goodness.
There are more, but this time there will just be one more. One morning on the way to a high rise building job downtown, a carload of workers saw that Joe was sitting in his car which was parked at the curb. They stopped to see what was going on, and Joe said that he had run out of gas. The other men said they would push his car to a gas station. They got behind Joe’s car with theirs and started off down the street. As they approached a gas station, Joe put his hand and arm outside his window and waved them on. They tried to push him into the gas station, but he didn’t want to go there. He told them that he didn’t use that kind of gas and wanted to go one more block to another station.
We still have characters in the business, but I don’t think they quite come up to the standards set by Joe. We really need to develop some.