Friday, August 13, 2010
I had 10 other things I was suppose to do today and atleast 4 topics ahead of this blog to write about (like last nights DIFFA event and my get up). But then Jon called me about Starlite Lanes being torn down and I had to go see. I tried to get out of it, I couldn't help myself. I get there, it made me ill. I forgot why I can't do too much salvage anymore. The physical labor/danger angle not withstanding, it makes me ill. Like how animals in cages at the zoo make me ill and I can't go there either. By the time I arrive, they have the marquis clean off the otherwise nothing building. It's 11 a.m. and over 90 degrees. The crew consists of two pairs of brothers and a fifth guy, all nice men, all working at this dirty, hard job. They humor the salvage lady in her new "a beautiful detroit begins with you" tank top. I tell them I save things and make things out of them. They stop the slaughter and start helping me sift through the debris. Despite the fall, there's still plenty of useable beautiful stuff, I'm feeling better. New people come and go, mostly scrap salvagers. I go get cold drinks. I ask about the boss showing up. No one seems too worried. Then the boss shows up along with some official looking man carrying his mac. They look at me. The frontend loader operator says I'm his girlfriend. The functionary proceeds to recite state clean air standards and regulations and what they, who are in violation, need to do to continue this demolition job. He talks like he's teaching a college course they've signed up for. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say these guys have had all the education they never wanted and will ever need. The upshot is that it will cost, in his estimate, $180 each to have a physical to see if they qualify for the right to do this job, to buy a special respirator and a few more items. Which, he goes on to say, they may not need at all because the air quality in the building may not be an issue. Now, he doesn't say the state is going to test this first. No, they just gotta pay this money, see if they make the cut and also fill out a 5-page questionnaire. If they don't do these things? Well, should the state come by this site, on 8 mile Road, they could be fined or put in jail. Now you might argue, the boss oughta pay for this. And maybe he should or would, except it looks like a nothing building. I really don't think he's making a big dollar on this with the fees, equipment and labor costs (and by the way, he tells me he lets then keep whatever scrap money they make). Maybe you're thinking, well what about safety? Sure, once you get past survival, safety would be next on my list. The functionary leaves. The boss says in effect, get this cleaned up and lets get out of here. Everyone gets busy, the boss turns to me, "so who are you (really?)" I tell him as I watch them crush all the stuff I wanted to save. He asks me twice if I'm a spy for the state. I tell him what I think about what I just heard. He tells me I should have told him I wanted the stuff sooner. He stops the crew, tells them to help me load whatever I want. This is so not how this goes. I tell him so. He laughs, says people like me follow him from job to job like this. He invites me to go with him to see if there's anything inside "the contaminated" building. It's empty, as clean as a whistle. I load, ask him what I owe him. He smiles, says "friendship." Girl scout's honor, he says friendship. Do you believe that? We exchange cards, I leave. In the end, seems they weren't actually suppose to take that beautiful marquis down yet. More than one party asked to purchase it. The boss doesn't act too upset about it, seems he takes a lot in stride. It's hot, these men got the call to work, they showed up ready, able and willing to do the work. This is how business is getting done in Detroit my friends. You got a better idea? I'd say run for office, but by the sound of things, I'm not convinced better ideas would survive the quality of the air in there.