Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Purpose of the Book

I am sure there are people who are curious as to the reason for my decision to write my first book.  I believe that my non-traditional occupation is unique and of interest to people.  Due to the unique nature of my work, there are not many woman telling the story.  Therefore, I must get the word out what it like to work with a sea of men all day.  I must say that this is the best part of working in construction; daily eye candy.  I also wanted to tell my story so others may understand what life is like for a woman construction worker.  My journey of becoming an electrician was a tight balance of maintaining my focus while constantly learning on my toes.  In order to gain any form of respect, I knew I must pay attention and learn everything possible and perform each task to my absolute best ability.  There is no doubt that my work holds my signature and is up for constant scrutiny if it is subpar in any nature.  No one is paying attention to the work of 100 men; just the one female on the job.  My career has it's many challenges and battles.  I view my accomplished career challenges as victories while wearing those badges with honor.  Any issues I have dealt with in this book are intended to illustrate life in my business.  I walked in and accepted the challenge of entering this field of work while facing resistance many years ago.  I do not seek pity from anyone nor will I accept it. 

I work with many talented journeymen and journeywomen.  Like with any occupation, there are a few 'bad eggs' in the carton.  Oftentimes, these 'bad eggs' have distinct personalities and a zest for life.  I embrace all co-workers; no matter how difficult they are to deal with at work.  Honestly, people who have distinct personalities are extremely amusing and make coming into work, no matter the conditions, fun and enjoyable.  I encourage you, as the reader, to view this book as both informational and as a source of humor....          

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I will never forget my first day meeting Chester on a job in White Plains.  He shook my hand and commented on my ‘manly’ handshake.  Chester then explained, in a long, dragged out theatrical manner, to me that there were two things that just don’t happen.  There is no crying in baseball and there are no women in construction.  As soon as I heard this come out of his mouth, I thought to myself that this is going to be a very tough job to work on.  Imagine a guy who is very tall with a big basketball for a belly that he rubs often.  Chester has a giant head of curly salt and pepper hair with an overgrown mustache and a five o’clock shadow.  Chester usually wore a cheap netted baseball hat, worn out solid color t-shirts, ragged Dockers pleated knit pants, and moccasins.   He does look like an odd character when you first see him and definitely when he opens his mouth and talks to people. 

When Chester latches onto someone, he usually makes a statement and will walk back and forth repeating that statement.  His repeated statements were intended to take a swipe and zing someone.  I came onto a job and there were a few workers.  One guy who introduced himself was a short and muscular black guy named "Bob" on the job.  Bob was very nice and explained what we were working on in the space.  I first get there and I am given a very easy task to work on.  This was because they didn’t trust the new girl helper on the job at all.  After awhile, I was gradually trusted more and more as time went along.  That is one thing that I still face in this business.  Each new job I come to, I meet the new foreman who is gun shy about giving me work that requires skills.  The good news is I usually end up on a job with guys I have worked with before.  This and my accumulated reputation for being a good, competent worker will sometimes follow me and help me out.  For the most part, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have my reputation follow me. I had to work very hard to create this working reputation and win over this guy who clearly didn’t like me from the beginning.........

My First Taste of Construction Life (Brief Clip)

My first jobsite I stepped foot onto was a remodeling construction project for a major health insurance company.  The company space was located in a high rise building in the heart of  downtown White Plains, New York.  My union called me up and directed me to report to work for my first electrical shop during the month of December, 1995.  I was a first year electrician’s apprentice and considered ‘green’ by my peers.  I was a young wife with a small one year old child when I had gotten the call for this jobsite.  Four months before, I enrolled myself in college to pursue an associate’s degree in business.  I had wanted to get a degree while pursuing my apprenticeship. 

I would soon discover that my plate was to become very full.  I became immersed with work, college courses, apprenticeship school, my family, and my new house that needed attention.  The juggling of my new schedule left me with limited free time.  This new schedule was a change from my life in the U.S. Navy as a construction electrician in the Seabees.  My husband and I were both recently discharged from the military at the same time.  He had also served his country as a U.S. Marine.  We settled within the New York City suburbs so that we could be near his family.  I was a young woman who was in love with my husband and was willing to follow him.  I was young and rather foolish to discuss my relationship so openly.  I clearly remember the topic of my wedding ring came up at work.  My co-workers used to tell me I should not wear it to work.  I would tell them that my ring is symbolic and I would be willing to lose a finger just so I could keep it on.  I now view this response as typical nonsense an 18 year old would say when foolishly in love.  I remember feeling awkward that I had to defend my choice to wear my ring. 

This was when I got my first exposure to typical, bitter electricians.  The average co-worker was very vocal about telling me that I would be divorced and miserable in no time........ 

Back Cover Snapshot of the Book

Strap on your work boots and put on your hard hat.  Let me take you on a sheetrock dusted journey to see what it is like to work within the construction industry.  The work is hard, the environment is unforgiving, and the jobsite can be either extremely hot or cold.  Almost 17 years ago, I stepped foot into a male-dominated work environment.  Despite the lack of a warm embrace, I pushed my way into this world to learn the trade.  I showed my many mentors that I wanted to be here and was ready to learn and work.  After some grit and sweat, I worked my way out of my apprenticeship to become a journeywoman electrician.  I earned a great working reputation within my trade and some aches and pains along the way.  I work with guys from all backgrounds and all walks of life; and a few females that share my goal to be called journeywomen.  Construction workers do not care that you do not feel up to the challenge that day.  You must suck it up and get the job done!  You will witness what it is like on a weekly basis to work within my industry.  Every story in this book is real.  The names of my co-workers have been changed to protect the innocent….or the guilty!  I must warn you that this book is not for the faint of heart!