“How was your weekend Tony?”
I was addressing the site laborer.
Each Monday I would ask the same question, fascinated to discover what had happened this weekend to have him reappear in the state he did each Monday morning. Tony was twenty-five or so, a one speed, easy going lad. Wasn’t-rushing-for-nobody-type-of-guy. Still shared a home with his parents and lived for the weekends.
He was a stocky build, surprisingly well toned actually. But you tended to be distracted by the shaven head and missing front tooth. And as Tony wasn’t slow in smiling his easy-going smile, a real Yuk Yuk kind of grin, that always caught your attention before anything else.
I first met Tony at a job induction – something that has become a by-word on every site before entering it and actually starting to do any work. It would take anything from and hour to five to get through, sitting watching DVD’s and listening to list’s of instructions of do’s and don’ts of that particular on-site practice’s. Various people and trades sat jammed into a too-warm room, all either bored or dozing or both, trying to concentrate on the same monotonous messages that are being drummed at you. The time passed with the same comments from those in the room.
“Same old crap”
“Yeah. Bullshit. Must think we’re stupid.”
“Could be working by now.”
“Jesus. Seriously? What’s this got to do with us??”
“I know mate. Really? Would you dangle off a crane 90 foot up in the air like that?”
“Nahhhh. Wouldn’t get me 5 foot up it for a start. I’m a carpet fitter..”
At this particular induction there were five of us sat crammed around a table trying to watch an information DVD on this site’s rules. The screen is always in the middle at the end of the room, so you can’t sit facing it, and instead sit with your head turned at right angles from your body, so that by the time it’s finished you have a crick in you neck. Tony sat through the whole thing hardly saying a word, arms folded across his middle, slumped in his chair with half lidded eyes gradually closing until he napped through the majority of it.
I like liked him straight away.
After the induction we went onto site to begin working and as it turned out, Tony was our laborer, specifically starting the same day to work with us. He would load up areas for us and clear away the off-cuts of what we left behind for the skip. As the weeks progressed on this job we got to know Tony better, and all though he always worked at the same slow-to-steady speed, he’s always got done what was asked of him, and was always good natured.
The only thing with Toney though was he liked to smoke the weed.
I think this made him seem even more laconic on his daily basis. You’d be surprised how much drug use has become more apparent in daily working environments these days. Something that has grown over the years with de-classification of certain drugs. To the point of the people using them assuming that they’re legal and acceptable and can’t understand why others become upset at the open use of them. It seems its everybody else’s problem rather than the person flagrantly using them in your vicinity.
Don’t get me wrong, Tony wasn’t using them on site everyday, but he was of an evening and fairly heavily too. But talking to a user was always the same conversation.
“You ok Toney?”
“Ahh man I feel battered. Had some gear last night.”
“Jesus lad. You want to pack that crap in.”
“Ah it’s ok mate. Just relaxes me. Makes me chill man.”
And I’d be looking at this bleary eyed wreck, walking round with a faint aroma of weed, like his own personal invisible cloud, telling me how good it made him feel. When he could smoke it. During the day he’d be looking forward to getting home not just to wind down, but to smoke some gear to help him wind down..
And weekends, well. That was a 24/7 smoking weekend for him. But to him it was a normal existence. To him it was part of his life and any problems that came about during that time were never related to what he smoked or put in his system. It was just, what happened on the weekend. Its amazing when you’re listening to these exploits first hand, talking to these various people from all walks of life, what exactly some people take as a perfectly normal run-of-the-mill acceptable existence.
Anyhow a day came where he stated, that was it. He was packing the stuff in. Which he did. And I actually believe he was sincere. There was a difference in him. He just looked slightly more focused and cleaner somehow.
Only now, instead of smoking weed and drinking on a weekend, he drank most of that time and it turned out he was snorting cocaine instead. The whole weekend became a blur for him. This particular Monday morning found him looking more than the usual worse for wear.
“Alright Tone? Heavy weekend?”
“Aw man. I hit it hard this week. Feel rough as anything mate.”
“Yeah? Straight to bed when you get home then.”
“Yeah man. If I’ve got a home to go to.”
“Why What’ve have you done now? Thought you packed in smoking all that weed.”
“Yeah, I did. But I went out Friday hit the beer and was on the Charly.”
“Christ mate you must be bloody mad. What’s gone on?”
“I went straight out from work with a mate on Friday.”
“Yeah. Well, we hit the beer and coke and went through to Saturday night. Slept over at his gaff Friday then carried on Saturday day and on into Saturday night.”
“Jesus mate. Its a wonder your still upright.”
“I know mate. I still feel wankered – I’m not kidding. Any way I rolled in at me mams, early doors – on Sunday morning. Must have been around 4 or 5. Proper tanked up.”
“So what’s gone on at your mums then?”
“Man. I got home right? Don’t know how I got through the door to be honest. Could’nt walk or see straight.”
“Christ Tony. Don’t you ever feel like a rest from living like that?”
“No mate! It’s all about the party man! Anyway – I got in the house right, and only went and moved all my mam’s ornaments round in the lounge right? She collects dogs and ducks. Hundreds of the fucking things! Anyway, I shifted them all over – and I mean all of them. Swapped them all over the gaff! Her pride and joy they are! Even moved the chairs round too – fuck knows what I was thinking!”
“Mate! You must have been in a real state!!”
“I know right? First I knew about it was my mam was dragging me out of bed next morning mate! Going fuck-ing spare! I’d only gone and left the front door wide open with the keys in the lock too!!”
“Oh my God Tone! You’ll be lucky if she lets you back in!”
“I Know mate! Wayyy to much beer and sniff! And then, then she showed me where I’d pissed alllll over the lounge. Over the floor, over the furniture. Man it was fucking everywhere!”
I have to note at this point, there was no embarrassment here. It was just a simple fact he was sharing of the events. Please. Just consider. If this was you who had staggered home in a similar state. Would you tell anyone you had methodically worked your way around your mothers front room pissing over every available surface?
I think not.
I’d have pulled my tongue out and hit it with a cricket bat first I think.
“Fuck! Me! Tony. I’d kick you out myself mate! What were you thinking?? Your mum must be disgusted with you!”
And I’m looking at him, bleary eyed, looking terribly rough, and he’s obviously being sincere and sorry about what happened when he says,
“Yeah I got to agree there mate. Can’t believe it. I mean. Seriously.”
And then he adds,
“What the fuck was I doing moving her ornaments all over the place???”