The year 2002 was drawing to a close. Second-year Ironworker trade school arrived. Fortunately, my good buddy BJ sat just a few chairs away from me in class. [Lucky me]
Welding is a big part of the workload for a Structural and Ornamental Ironworker. Welding class started at noon, and on today's agenda was for the class to weld their flat position CWB welding coupons. (I attained my flat position CWB welding-ticket a few years prior; therefore, I did not have to take part. BJ, however, spent very little time welding, which meant: he had to take part in all the welding class's teachings).
BJ and I did some quick brainstorming: We wanted to go to the pub (promptly) and hoped to concoct a plan to which corresponded with our idea. Moments later, we established a plan: I would weld BJ's flat position welding test coupon to enable BJ to receive a passing grade in a timely manner. Then, the two of us could venture off to the campus pub for some cold ones. (BJ and I figured it would give us an extra hour of pub time if I were to weld his test coupon, instead of him). 15-minutes later, I finished, passed the welding coupon to BJ, and BJ walked over to the Welding Instructor. BJ tapped the Welding Instructor on the shoulder and said, "Here is my welding coupon."
Seconds later: The Instructor gave BJ a passing grade. Afterward, BJ and I rushed off to the college pub.
BJ and I entered the pub; we treaded to the bar, arrived, and we both ordered two double whisky and cokes, [one for each hand]. Then, off we went to sit at a nearby table. (No beer warm-ups today: Straight to the whisky we went, and surely our future would see some sort of crooked adventure).
The hours passed as BJ and I guzzled back whisky and coke, after whisky and coke. Our classmates, [other student Ironworkers], poured into the bar, one after the other, for the next 3-hours. Suddenly, amidst BJ and I wailing on whisky and cokes, 25 apprentice Ironworkers crowded a certain section of the bar. (It seemed as though every Apprentice Ironworker attending trade school was sloshing back drinks, becoming louder and more thunderous as the time passed).
It just so happened to be wingey Wednesday at the college bar, which made for an inviting night out for other students attending the Sault Ste. Marie College; hence, the chicken wing prices were half price and most students can’t afford to go out unless there is a drinking deal highlighted on the calendar.
Nine O'clock PM tick-tocked the clock: My classmates and I were now on a 9-hour drinking marathon, none of which saw a slurping gap, and all of which saw waitress trays full of alcohol shooters being launched at our table every so often, compliments of my trade school pals. The bar had filled up with other students from all walks of life: age, race, and gender.
BJ guzzled back the remainder of his umpteenth double whisky and coke, set the glass on the table, and treaded to the pub’s bar to grab another. He halted just in front of the pub’s bar and ordered more drinks; the bartender mixed the drinks and handed them to BJ. BJ turned and treaded back towards our table. He began making his way through the crowd, weaving and wobbling from side to side, (and I'm sure the weave and wobble encompassed the odd stubble).
A seated student unexpectedly slid his chair back during BJ's walk, striking BJ in the leg, forcing BJ to spill his drink on a student. Suddenly, spots of whisky planted themselves on the student's shirt, having a few driblets snag the side of his crotch. “Oops, shit, sorry,” BJ said. He quickly U-turned back to the bar to buy the student a drink, hoping to defuse what would surely be one pissed off student.
BJ ordered a drink, paid for it, the bartender handed him his newly boughten glass of liquor, and BJ treaded back to the student's table. BJ halted beside the student’s table. He held out his freshly boughten drink, hoping the student would accept his offer, [a free drink], and his anger would diminish. However, BJ's apology did not work and---in actuality---the amends seemed to invoke more anger from the student. BJ stood silently as he held the glass of liquor out while taking a tongue lashing from the student because of the driblets of whiskey embedded in his crotch: “F this. F that. My f—king crotch. I should f—king kick the shit out of you.”
As I sat 25 feet away, I knew that the events unfolding right before my eyes would certainly end in utter chaos. I'd now spent a lot of time with BJ, and although he was a nice guy and a good gent, he was never one to take any shit from some ill-mannered undergrad. And so, amidst BJ taking a tough lashing from the student, BJ held his newly boughten drink directly over the top of the student's head, and---nonchalantly---dumped it on him. (My eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets as if I were in a cartoon, and the loony tunes, [The Ironworkers], were just a slim moment away from a war erupting). Other Apprentice Ironworkers noticed the commotion at hand and began stalking their prey as if to say: "MOVE ONCE MORE AND THEN THERE IS GOING TO BE AN UPROAR."
Students and the bar bouncers quickly barreled on top of BJ; 25 Ironworkers abruptly stormed over to intersect the students and bar bouncers from pouncing on BJ. The bar erupted into a fury of fists flying in every direction: Suddenly, 100's of people were launching an arsenal at us Iron-workers, forcing us Ironworkers to mount a stronghold and begin back-lashing the threshold of students and bar bouncers.
Minutes later, the bar brawl settled. I began gazing around the bar, assessing the damage, seeing broken tables and blood streamed across nearly the whole campus bar. One of the bar bouncers then hollered aloud, “EVERY ONE OF YOU IRONWORKERS IS NOW EVICTED FROM THE BUILDING. SO, ALL YOU KNUCKLEHEAD NUTCASES GET THE HELL OUT OF MY BAR!”
One by one, We, The Ironworkers marched to the bar exit, having the entire bar watching our every step. (What I saw next was truly a sight for sore eyes and one that I could not fathom, nor imagine taking place in my wildest dreams). The entire bar arose, clapping, chanting, whistling, and cheering as We, The Ironworkers, one by one, neared the exit of the bar. 25 Ironworkers in total were now receiving a standing ovation. And, ‘No,’ not because of a successful build; ‘No,’not because of a million safe working hours. ‘No,’ this time it was actually nothing of the sort. Truth be told, the crowd arose to clap and cheer at the sight of seeing an Ironworker eviction, hoping that we would disappear and never return.
ON THAT NIGHT, I truly did have brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters. We, The Ironworkers united amongst each other during our trade school training.
We, The Ironworkers had each other's backs due to the brotherly love we had bestowing in our background.
We, The Ironworkers did something that the current day and age seems to have forgotten: WE STOOD TOGETHER!!!!......