Working with my father was the best and worst thing I ever did.
Best because it was with my father.
Worst because I almost died.
The first time, we worked on an all-girls school in Massachusetts. It was exactly like you’d imagine an all-girls school in Massachusetts to be. I remember it was made of stone and there were a lot of trees and the bathrooms felt like they were possibly time portals to the 1940’s.
Essentially, it’s pretty much the way everything is in Massachusetts.
My father was a waterproofer and so was his father, and even my mother’s mother’s father was a waterproofer who happened to teach my dad’s father how to waterproof.
And for the longest time, I had no idea what waterproofing actually was.
But that day, I got to learn.
Essentially, waterproofing is ensuring a building doesn’t leak. I can’t remember exactly what else I learned that day because at one point I was too busy trying not to die, and during the first part of the day, I was too distracted by what I was going to eat for lunch.
I’m one of those people who you see and say, “Well, my goodness, where does she put it all??”
Wouldn’t you like to know.
So, after a morning of attempting to stay fully planted in the year 2000 (even after I flushed the toilet) and balancing in the sky on scaffolding precariously hanging on the side of the all-girls school, we got to eat grinders from a sandwich shop in the downtown area that looked exactly like you’d expect a Massachusetts downtown to look like. We ate in my dad’s truck which always smelled like sweat and caulking.
I don’t remember what I ate, but it most likely involved salami.
After lunch, it was time for death.
I was up on the scaffolding doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing (which I’m sure involved a strict set of important tasks that were shoved forcefully from my mind to make room for daydreams of Prince William) when I did the thing my father precisely asked me not to do: I attempted to die.
Well, actually, he just told me to be careful to watch my feet because there was one section of the scaffolding that didn’t have any boards. And I proceeded to forget this.
I went down quickly. I should have plunged from our thirty-foot perch straight down past the beautiful tall trees and windows to the time-portal bathrooms to my death on the pine-needly ground, but I didn’t. My hands reached out, and I grabbed blindly for a board that magically appeared and held on tight as my father helped me back up onto the scaffolding.
Needless to say, our work day was over, and I was forbidden by my mother to ever waterproof again. Which was a shame because, well, salami.
The second time I almost died was when I was working again for my father. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Either work or my dad is trying to kill me. I’ll perform more experiments and get back to you.
Anyways, this time, he worked in an office for a waterproofing company, and I was to be his assistant. This was great because never have I been more skilled in the art of Minesweeper or attempting to take a nap under a small desk sandwiched in a cubicle.
Pro tip: bring a coat. It makes a glorious blanket.
On one of these days, I decided to be helpful and make popcorn in the microwave. This ended up being partly unhelpful since I put the popcorn in for way too long, and we ended up meeting the Boston Fire Department.
They’re exactly how you’d expect the Boston Fire Department to be.
I didn’t die, and I didn’t even kill anyone.
But let’s just say naptime didn’t feel the same that day.
I have never since been invited back to work with my father. I’m not really sure why since I’m the sort of person who can sit quietly for incredibly long periods of time until I’m either plunging to my death or burning down a building. But that’s fine. His loss.
If he’s ever interested in hiring me again, he knows where to find me. Under this desk.
© 2023 by Ericka Clay
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