On the day of my first documented asbestos exposure, I was late to work. I had cycled a route that took much longer than anticipated and arrived half an hour late to a house full of dust. My boss and a 19 yo co-worker were tearing up the linoleum of what once was a kitchen's floor. "Give me a long enough lever and a tall enough fulcrum and I will lift the world" my boss said as we pried at the moldy drab disgusting fad of 1950's flooring fashion. I was glad I'd shown up late that day. The job was shut down at lunch. Nobody was supposed to do anything until the results came back negative from the lab. The boss had pushed on regardless as the results were late and time is money. They came back positive. We were written up in the health insurance books. I tried to comfort myself by talking to the kid, telling him what I'd learned from working in the industry: That nobody cares. We're working for millionaires and get enough to pay the bills plus a 10 fold increase chance of getting cancer. 20 if you smoked. I smoked. I told him about when I first started and the kid I was working for looked me in the eye and said "One single fibre. 20,000 can fit in the gap a hair creates between a respirator and your face." We even went to an awareness training. They told us how this microscopic hook attaches itself to your lung tissue and tears repeatedly wounding. Cancer as a response to a wound that won't close. Scar tissue of the lungs. We laughed and joked. We're doomed. We didn't have money. They gave us a little and we gave them our lives. The kid shrugs. I think I'm special. I really do think I am someone who is worthy of being an honoured and respected guest at a party for instance. I honestly believed growing up in a lower class household that I would be compensated for my contributions to this world. Still do. That slavery and prostitution were not for me. This kid I'm comforting just smiles and laughs. He's cool now, he's got his first asbestos exposure. Just one of the boys. Shrug it off and be a man. Dunt bother me none, I'm a champ! Good on ya bud. Guys driving a $25, 000 Chevy his parents bought for him. Calls his mom everynight. I'm nearly 6 years older than him and I ride a bike. Drunk all the time. And I'm the one trying to comfort him. Kids part of the Borg. Cold dead look in his eye. Look of cookies crumbling. The giant end of the world cookie slowly eroding into the space time sea of a flat earth. Empty, soulless, as vacant as the eyes of a newt. He doesn't think he's special. He knows he's not. It never occurs to him to hate the boss, the system, the corporate entity that busily prioritizes profits over well-being. He'll only hate if there's a bunch of people to hate with. We're all too well paid to hate. A chocolate chip the size of a Volkswagen dislodges and drops in slow motion to the icy waters below. You're a goner too. They're in the air all around us. An old whore house burnt downtown around a year ago and demo is wide open. They've got a fence with signs telling you to keep your distance. It's airborne. Sometimes we'll cover a building in a giant tent to give you the impression that we're keeping the dust down but as with the best of polyurethane tucktape zipper barriers and respirator seals there's a leak. We're all exposed. The stuff just chills in giant rocks in Arizona deserts. Seen the videos of scientistisis in full body PPE out there poking em saying stuff like "They come from the ground" and "Best way to limit your risk is to avoid walking in the desert". You can stop breathing entirely for all I care kid. Anything to keep you healthy and safe. Anything to stop you being exposed. Rich people don't walk on sidewalks. Now I do new builds. No more abatement, no more asbestos (except for the stuff that's in the air at all times, remember!). Sawdust and silica keep my breathers bushy now. We're working on a $250,000 dollar garage. I tripped and nearly fell to my death the other day. They'd say "He died working on a garage". Yeah but you should see this garage. Six cars all fir timbreframe glue lam. This garage is fancier than a five star hotel. It's fancier than any house I've helped renovate or frame. It's comparable in size too. This is a 3000 square foot garage that could easily be converted into a very substantial and beautiful house for a medium size family. Yeah he died working for a millionaire on a garage. Basically goes against all the principles he preached during his life and ends up breaking his neck on the floor of a millionaires garage for 7 bucks more than minimum wage. But did you see this garage? It's a monument. It represents everything that is decadent and over the top and unnecessary, wasteful greedy, murderous dark disgusting underbelly of society. But man that's one beautiful garage. Coughs and lights a smoke.
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