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Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Train a Roofer

In the initial phase you can't train somebody to roof. First you need to find out if he can learn by watching and, more importantly, can he handle the hard work. Thus you send him to tear off and load roofing. If he lasts a week and starts trying to pick up the hatchet then it is time to some him some tricks.
We start with the deck preparation and installation of felt, progressing to metal edge and then field shingles. Once the roofer has made it this far and has shown he can surpass the initial level it is time for some class work.
The tests are open book and the classes are hands on and video based and might cover something you missed. The most important part by far is the actual instillation of good clean roofing practices in his head along with safety habits that will keep him going like that battery operated bunny on TV.
Bananas. Yes, bananas. The potassium in his body will flow out like a river along with the other minerals but we usually get enough of the others from McDonalds.
He needs to not drink cold water or he'll overheat. One of your internal thermostats is in the stomach and if it thinks you're cool it will send signals to the sweat director to shut it down.
The roofers of today aren't too preoccupied with getting a suntan so we don't need to really push that aspect anymore. I used to get sunburns on my front side when we put on white roofs because of the reflection. I still worry about skin cancer.
A roofer will sweat so hard that if he smokes his sweat will run brown for the first few minutes. He needs to hydrate frequently even on nice days because he's still sweating.
Lastly he needs to know that you are going up on the roof to check how many and where the nails have been placed. He needs to know that he is being watched for quality because the devil will sit on his shoulder telling him to put three nails instead of four because he'll get the roof done quicker. Yes the devil is up there. He never stops. He never complains. He'll get you if you aren't diligent and the heat really doesn't bother him too much. In fact he may make it hotter. I know it's at least thirty degrees hotter up there so if you can't stand the heat get off the roof. It's almost impossible to imagine the brutality of it all unless you've been up there.
Me, myself, and I loved it up there when I was young and virile (I may be stretching that a little) and worked like a beast. Today I have moving parts that remind me of the toil. The last couple of days I've burned my hands on roofs because the keypad doesn't produce many callouses. The Khmer Rouge would shoot me in the initial purges and re-education processes.
This summer was harder on me than the famous Dallas summer of 1980 when the unbreakable records were set for hotness.

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