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6 June, 2009

by The Wandering Wastrel

The Coppersmith Cowboy heads into the North.


Then I started work for a company in Northen Canada.
I found then on the Internet. I told them I was a professional coppersmith, a Pro worth top Dollar… I sent them photos of the dome.

I flew to Canada and started work with them. I had no money and no where to live so I lived in the workshed.

Well today I went to work my first day, and I didn’t dress warm enough.
It got to – 15 up on the roof and my hands and feet were numb in minutes, a great incentive to work hard … you find your self arguing with people over who will race up the ladder to get the forgotten hammer.

They put me on a 12-foot long plywood dormer and said, “You know what to do eh”…

“OH yeah..Sure.” I said.
So I had to copper clad the whole thing including soldering.

There I was… a cowboy posing as a professional (far better at convincing others of my ability than convincing myself), yet real cowboys surrounded me. A cowboy for those who don’t know is a person with no professional / formal training in the trade they are pretending to be a professional in. I immediately went into a confusion. I even forgot to not put the nails in my mouth when it is so cold, that was exiting.

Cowboy 1: Steve, Chain smoker, brown teeth, balding, has a big handle bar mustache, wears a truckers hat. I have never seen him eat food. Only drinks coffee.
He is grim as. He has a cd with 100 farting, spewing and pooing noises on it and he likes to play it as we eat lunch. That is when he laughs. Always ready with a snide remark or a put down.
I could go on but I wont. I have written 3 pages of notes on him and understand him better than he understands himself.
Of course I get on with him.

Cow Boy 2: Jeff. Former stripper and playgirl model. Got a model girlfriend pregnant and quit his life of partying for one of being a good hard working dad. He got a job at custom cupola and had never done anything like it before. He makes his way by whacking things with his hammer, asking Steve how to do things and keeping busy by cleaning up the site and going and getting coffee.
He has heaps of nice tools that I always borrow as I have the hand me downs of the hand me downs (A ripped pouch sewn up with dental floss, an old cracked wooden handled hammer fixed with glue and tape and the rustiest and most grease coated pair of snips ever, A cutter with half an inch of blade left and a tape measure with a broken spring (and of course its in inches).
Jeff’s car is always broken so Steve picks him up in the work truck.

Jeff and I went snowboarding last time I was here and I stayed at his house. He is very musically creative and has a studio where he creates some good stuff. He has many secret side projects and is a really happy guy. We are mates. He says, “The way to deal with Crusty “Steve” is to get on his good side.
I have been right around Steve many times and I am yet to locate his good side.

Any way I managed to clad the dormer through using a synthesis of what I knew, what I made up there and duplication of the completed one over the other side of the building, (I had to sneak over and have a look on the pretense of seeing if Jeff needed a hand chipping inch thick ice off the roof.)

So yeah I was mostly hanging off the side of a 70-degree roof, which was coated in thick ice, with howling freezing wind ripping around me as I struggled to put this stuff called ice/water (its like a tar paper stuff) and copper panels on the bloody dormer. I was roped on for my own personal safety.
The company has a policy “Safety ropes are optional but if you slip then you were fired as you were going off the roof”.

It was a terrifying mind and nerve wracking day that taxed me to the end and prompted me to write this story as a tribute to how a Cowboy who arrives via an email can flourish in such harsh conditions. Carving out a little igloo of a home for him self among the rough and ready wild men of Ontario.
The boss called me into his office today and told me about the 250-foot steeple job that we will be doing in London in a month. He wants me to take a crew of inexperienced yokels and be the boss and using my professional skill… DO THE JOB.

I said “Yeah I would love to, Ill sort it out.”

2 replies to Into The Blinding Whiteness of the Arctic Tundra.

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