I signed up for a welding class. No reason, it's just something I had been wanting to do for YEARS; so when I drove past the trade school and the sign was up...I turned around and went back. Now, it didn't cost the oh, say...SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS I thought it would, but since I had turned around and gone back and walked through the door...I wrote a check for $250 and there was no turning back. Good thing, because the day of? I'd have backed out in a minute for anything under $125.
Y'all...(not to be cute)...I HAD A BLAST. Got there and...oooops. It's me and 14 redneck guys from the north side of the county and...THEY ARE ALL LOOKING FOR JOBS. I honestly did not expect this...I thought it would be a bunch of middle-aged, bored, wannabe's...wait, that's me. No, for real, I thought it would be me and a bunch of other people like me...lamps and lawn furniture repair.
I was wrong.
Luckily? I think that as a general rule...they thought it was a hoot that I was there. It took about five minutes to realize that, when the instructor asked for input? They were all going to sit there and stare at him. So hey, this is what I do. Ask for a suggestion and I'll give you a direction. Works every time.
We watched a safety/instructional video for 45 minutes and in hindsight...that was a good idea. A real good idea. Then, we learned how to hook up, check and regulate the oxygen and gas. And THEN, we proceded to learn how to cut through a piece of metal.
No big deal, right? They don't offer college degrees in welding so obviously any idiot can do it, right? Right?
Wrong. Real wrong. Or at least...THIS idiot couldn't do it.
My first cut was okay...my second cut SUCKED and I gave up. Third time was better but...later on I realized that it's like shooting a gun. I am a decent shot, and it's because you take a deep breath, you relax and then you...zone. It's not about you...it's about the sight and the gun and the pressure on the trigger.
Well, that's how the welding goes but...shit, fire. It's HOT, you have to be steady for a LONG time, and if you mess up? You have to go back to your solid point and get the metal melting again and get going again.
They don't serve cocktails. Or fingerfood.
And then? I am not making this up...my best buddy (my kids, as you recall, call me a freak magnet...weird guy in the vicinity? He finds me) had Parkinsons. You know, the disease that makes you shake. Now, my one-legged alcoholic cousin with prostate cancer has Marie-Tooth-Stone (that's a very rare, very mean, muscular disease and we are very good as a family at functioning with this disability) so I AM more sympathetic than you are but...you have never hurt so badly in your life as when you are WILLING...with your brain and your heart...that torch to stop wobbling and get to that metal. Forget STAYING there...just HEAT IT UP. We helped him a lot. He had a great time.
I got a pair of gloves and a pair of safety glasses. I wore a welding mask that no telling WHO has had on (me, the person who can't go to the movie theater because...I can't sit in those seats. Where other people have been.) and when I got home The Nice Kid took one look and said, "What happened to YOU?"
Soaking wet...every square inch of me was drenched in sweat but...I had the time of my life. I was NOT the dumbest person in the class, and I may not have been perfect but...I was acceptable. I took my camera but since it was first class, I wasn't comfortable enough to take pictures.
Next week? I'm gonna have all those guys put in their teeth, and I'm going to snap away. Me and the boys. In welding class.
(The real reason? My friends don't believe me. My buddy, Kenny, who builds these parts for race cars and ships them all over the world? Invited me for an afternoon of circular cuts. I am on my WAY!)