Stealing with Your Eyes
Sippican Cottage, writing from the wilds of Maine, looks back on the days when he acquired the skills to tackle a plumbing job that would have thwarted a team of television home improvement types. This is interesting reading for anyone but especially if you are a home repair enthusiast. An excerpt:
The payoff was that you got to work with people who knew their arse from their elbow. You would receive a certain amount of instruction. This instruction was supplied in the form of abuse, delivered in vibrant Anglo-Saxon, accompanied by a threat to be fired if you did whatever it was you did again. For the most part, you were required to be cautious, quiet, and "steal with your eyes" if you wanted to learn things. You would work right next to men who were very accomplished carpenters, painters, roofers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, stonemasons, concrete finishers, or skilled at various other trades. They were also very accomplished drunks, and could show you a thing or two about getting yourself outside a quart of Four Roses while still being able to show up early for work the next day. They accomplished marvelous things, if you loved single-family houses the way I did, and if you paid attention, you could learn how to do it yourself.