Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Boiler Guy

So I'm sitting in my computer room, watching a movie online. Stalingrad as a matter of fact, a movie I have a copy of on BluRay, still it was there, online and I needn't do anything except clicky-clicky in a couple of spots.

Also, my computer chair (even as torn up as it is) is most conducive to my comfort and the heeling process. (Odd how those staples still feel like they're there. I know they're not, but...)

Anyhoo, right about the time the Germans are plotting to attack the house in which the heroes of the movie are situated, the cell phone rings. Well, it doesn't really ring, it plays a wee tune which tickles my fancy.

So I answered, it was my oil company. Seems their technician was outside wondering if anyone was home. Why yes, I was.

So down to the main deck I went and greeted the fellow who was here to check and clean my boiler. (I used to, and sometimes still slip, call it a "furnace." Another oil company guy corrected me on that. Old habit I suppose.)

I asked the guy if he minded me hanging around as these type of evolutions fascinate me. I enjoy seeing how things work. He had no problem with that. A most interesting discussion we had.

He's a local guy, went to college a long time ago, then went to a trade school to actually have a marketable, usable skill. Which he now has.

Seems that his is a dying trade. The MBA types who run his company are all about streamlining things and being more efficient. When the guys who actually install, fix and clean things get disgruntled and go elsewhere (which seems to happen a lot more than I realized) the white collar crowd doesn't seem to think it's a big deal.

My boiler guy told me that unless the big shots figure out a way to make boilers install and fix themselves, they are going to be in dire straits in another few years.

First of all, it's dirty work. Cleaning out an old, oil-fired boiler is nasty. Leaves one smelling of oil and the grit which gets into the hands just won't come out. Not when you do it day in and day out. Yeah, they wear gloves, kinda like medical gloves only black, but that grit and oil still gets everywhere.

My guy blew out a disk in his lower back some years ago, the doctors wanted to put him down as 100% disabled. He said no. He wants to show people that he can pull his weight, that he can still do the job. He's quite a guy.

He's pushing 50 but could pass for late 30s. Personable and smart. His only flaw that I could see was that he likes jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. (Truth be told I have a few friends who are into that kind of thing. I may have to try it some day. Maybe, and if I do there had better be a bucket o' Guinness for me to pitch into when I land. Perhaps fresh underwear might be called for as well.)

He said he'd thought about going into the Air Force back in the day. But the family business called and he felt obligated. Family first dontcha know.

I tell you, the guy was a real American. Works hard and doesn't ask for all that much.

Some folks think that everyone should have a college degree. Why? If you desire to be knowledgeable about 17th Century French poetry well go for it. Just don't expect to find gainful employment in that field or expect someone else to pay for it.

There are thousands of jobs out there which pay really well. No, you're not going to be sitting in an air conditioned office and work 9 to 5. Yes, you're going to get dirty and sometimes the hours will suck.

I know, I've been there and done that. It was satisfying and taught me a lot of good lessons. It didn't seem so noble and wondrous at the time but it paid pretty good. It was also work which had to be done. No one else was going to do it.

There are a lot of jobs like that. Jobs which many Americans don't seem to want to do anymore. Jeebers, we can't all be scum sucking parasites stock brokers. Somebody still needs to build stuff and fix stuff when it breaks.

My boiler guy, he might smell kinda like heating oil but he was truly a breath of fresh air.

A hard working, honest American.

My kinda people.


  1. Yesterday the apartment manager had a carpet cleaner working on some vacant units. His equipment was in a one ton van with long hoses snaking around the building and up the stairs. Hot and humid work by your honest hard working American.

  2. Pretty neat. Your "Boiler" looks just like the "furnace" I had in the first house I ever had built--Portsmouth Rhode Island (off Turnpike Avenue) 1967. Mortgage was $124.24/month, from the Providence Bank.

    1. $124.24 per month? Those were the days!

      Seems that the Providence Bank is still in business. Kind of surprising the way some banks morph and change over the years. My first checking account was with the Colorado National Bank. Which is long gone.

  3. Holy Moly, You Service Guys! Cleanest friggin boiler I've ever seen. What do you do, hit that thing with a tooth brush once a week?

    Have a friend whose son went to trade school and is a boiler guy...well HVAC whatever. He is doing very well. As you say, college should not be the be all and end all.

    1. Actually the boiler is only a couple of years old.

      And I took the picture right after the boiler guy had left. He made it shiny.

  4. Kollidge is a real racket these days. If I did in my business what today's kollidge goons do, if I blatantly peddled damaged and dangerous goods and practiced usury, I'd just be shot out of hand.

    Now, who do you like in the Big 10 this season?

    BTW, is there any basement in America where there are not old computer monitors stored? ;)

    1. I read somewhere about the old governor of Texas (Perry) challenging the state's schools to offer a four year degree for $10K. Of course all the pointy-heads pooh-poohed the idea.

      Well, it happened now other states are following suit.

      College is no longer about education, it's now just another way to harvest cash. For little to no return in my estimation.

      Ah, you noticed the computer monitors? I can't speak for the rest of the country, but yeah, there's a few down there.

  5. When I was on the Board of Education for a decade in Connecticut - I always championed vocational education and the trades. Got a lot of grief for it too from the over educated mothers. Kind of place where the head of the PTA was an MBA. Vocational training was a bad word. Now, these kids might have been on the smart, white and spoiled side of the spectrum - but there were probably 25-40% of them who were not collect material. Not interested - were artists, musicians, liked electrical or plumbing or HVAC or whatever - good with their hands.

    Trying to convince parents that a kid WANTED to be a welder was like convincing Catholic school parents their daughters liked sex with their husbands. They knew it was technically possible but you 'needed' to go to college.

    I then moved to another community with 6 colleges, 2 graduate schools and seminary and lots of over educated parents. Same problem.

    I would bet that for the average college grad, if they instead entered the trades - at the age of 60 they' be in exactly the same financial place - kids who are younger make much more money in the trades than if they were in debt through college. The problem is the lack of discipline - if they saved the money instead of spending every dime on cars and partying - they'd be able to retire at 60. . . .

    1. Ah, so you know exactly what I mean.

      Sounds like you fought the good fight, as best as you could. Who knows? Maybe one or two of those kids listened and entered the trades.

  6. The Vocational classes at our HS have increased dramatically in the last 5 years. In addition to the traditional shop class teaching carpentry, a kid can now weld, work with 3d printing and design. learn autocad, intern at the local hospital. The auto shop features both gas and diesel tracks. Kids even design and fire rockets, to include some that require trips to White Sands to launch due to distance and altitude capabilities.
    It took a huge fight from the Superintendent and the election of local manufacturing business owners to the School Board, but the counselors no longer demand everyone prep for college. That's a good thing in my book.

    1. This is excellent news. Sounds as if, once again, Texas is showing the rest of the country how things should be done.

      Let's hope it catches on!

  7. When you talk about your heating system remember this. Taco's (take-o) are for heating and taco's (talk-o) are for eating.
    For those that are wondering, that is that bronze colored valve with the wires. They open and close from thermostat signals to separate heating zones.

    1. I knew what those were, just didn't know the company (Taco) who manufactured such things.

      Live and learn.


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