All firefighters have some sort of part time job. Why they do is beyond me. Alek will end up with a schedule that is 48-hours on and 96-hours off and, according to the orientation night at West Valley, will work about 56-hours a week doing his “regular” firefighting job. Plus he can pick up overtime shifts.
Despite what people might think, firefighters don’t just work when they go out on calls. They cook meals, clean the station, clean the equipment, do building maintenance, equipment maintenance, yard work, regular physical fitness training, regular hazmat training, regular evolution training, keep up on all of their certifications, train new hires…the list goes on and on. From what I can tell, most people are just jealous that firefighters get to cram an entire work week into two-ish days. But make no mistake, they work their asses off in those 48-hours.
I tell Alek all the time that I expect that in his 96-hours off he will be a “Man of Leisure.” One, because he will have already worked 56-ish hours and two, because he deserves to relax. My current crusade is to get him to purchase a season pass at a local resort so he can snowboard his brains out this winter. While I think I will be successful in getting Alek to purchase said season pass, he insists on having a part-time gig (I guess I’ll hold off on investing in that silk smoking jacket and slippers.) We have, however, come to an agreement that he will narrow down his current six (yes SIX) part time jobs to one.
Painting did not make the cut.
See, Alek has been painting, and been really successful at it, for over 15 years. The money has been really good, and has financed his many Hawaiian and European and Costa Rican and cross-country-motorcycle-riding adventures, but, well, he’s tired. And it’s just time. 15 years is an awesome run but I think that the minute Alek decided to follow his heart and pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter he wanted to stop painting, so he’s slowly tapered off. But until he got his first paycheck last Friday, firefighting didn’t seem real.
But Friday it WAS real, and he’s decided that when he’s done with the paint job he’s currently working on that he will officially be done painting. So I’ve declared this current job to be the Last.Paint.Job.Ever. (I suppose you can never say never, and maybe in a few years when things have settled down a bit Alek might want to pick up a lucrative faux finish job here and there, but for now, it’s 1 part time job down, 4 to go.)
Don’t get me wrong, I have much respect and much love for Alek’s paint work. He is very VERY good at what he does, and his work is beautiful. And if he’d wanted to stay a paint contractor I would have been totally happy with that. In a way, this last.paint.job.ever. is a bit sad, the way that the ends of eras always are, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned from Alek in the last three years:
1. Measure twice, cut once.
2. Contractors need to pay someone that they trust to manage their business affairs. This is especially important if you are the one actually doing the contract work. It’s insanely difficult to execute a project AND be the one to figure out schedules, hire people, prepare bids, invoice clients, actually get general contractors to pay you, reconcile bank accounts, file taxes, create a website, keep the website up to date, drum up new clients, keep the LLC registered, etc.
3. Bidding jobs is very VERY hard and takes more time to put together than you’d ever expect. It requires lots and lots of experience, gut instinct and complex math equations. (You know all that algebra you thought you’d never use in real life? Well, you need it.) So, if you’re a general contractor, and you already know who you want to work with for paint and you’re having paint sub-contractors bid out a job just so you can get the three bids the homeowner requires: you’re a dick.
4. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just buy the Green Frog Tape. Yes, I know it’s more expensive than the blue tape. Yes, I know it’s A LOT more expensive than the blue tape. Yes, it is TOTALLY worth it.
5. Always look for a fan tip on a spray paint can. If there isn’t one, find a fan tip and swap it out.
6. Never, ever finish cabinets or furniture with a vinyl based paint product. You want a LACQUER base. Do you hear me? LACQUER base!! (This is something that Alek and his friends are quite passionate about. I don’t question it.)
7. The world has yet to invent a “Green” product that can hold up as well and as long as a LACQUER based product. Once they do, contractors will buy it, until then, you want LACQUER!!!
8. Never, ever buy Venetian plaster at Lowe’s. Only get the Venetian plaster from Home Depot. But don’t ever buy regular paint at Home Depot (or Lowe’s for that matter. I know, I know, but I don’t make the rules.) Oh, and call Alek once you get your Home Depot (NOT LOWE’S!) Venetian Plaster because there are only a couple of people in the valley that know how to mix the color for the Venetian plaster product correctly.
9. While spreading the colorful paint flecks on an epoxy floor may look like something any ding dong could do, it is actually part art, and part science. And it’s a lot harder to do than you’d think. Still, it looks like fun, no?
10. The quality of the paint product has a direct effect on the quality of your finished project. And quality product (especially epoxies, metallic paint and Venetian plaster) is expensive.
11. And finally, if you’re going to call a paint contractor and basically brain-rape him into to telling you EXACTLY which products to buy and EXACTLY how much product to buy and EXACTLY what the correct process is to epoxy your garage floor and he is kind enough to spend an hour on the phone with you discussing this because he’s a nice person, just buy the $100/gallon epoxy that he told you to buy. Don’t go to your local construction superstore and get discount epoxy (see #9 above) just to save a few bucks. And if you do decide to ignore his advice and buy cheap product, DON’T call him later to complain about how you spent two days on this project only to find that the cheap epoxy is peeling up off of your garage floor. Just sayin’…