Building and Construction, Operations, V7I6

What About Bob?

Bob was an aging fellow shed builder for a of couple years around 2007. His history was in roofing. He had owned his own little operation and roofed houses with the help of his daughters. 

No nail guns were allowed; they used hammers and hand-nailed every shingle. 

After his daughters grew up and moved out, he retired from his roofing career and came to work for Better Barns. Carpentry work came easy to him, and he quickly became a valuable asset. His easy laugh and quick sense of humor made him a favorite of the crew. 

If you have read this column for a while, you may remember the story about the skunk walking right into the middle of our little circle of men on break. Bob was there that day, and he just smiled as we scattered. Skunk spray did not scare Bob! Neither did much of anything else. 

He was the very definition of unflappable. 

Before Bob joined the crew, I was the fastest roofer. That does not mean I was a fast roofer. In fact, I would say I was a slow roofer. The rest of our crew was just slower. Maybe I should say I was the least slow roofer. 

As the former “fastest” roofer in the shop, my pride was challenged by this newcomer’s amazing speed. I gladly let him take over the roofing duties but watched closely to see if he really was that much faster than me. He did not disappoint. 

We did manage to convince him to use a nail gun. After a very short time, he was even faster with the gun than he had been with the hammer. Even so, he reminded us often how much better it was to hand-nail—the shingles are more secure, no low nails showing, etc. 

I am going to digress here and step into the shed-hauling world. Those shed hauler guys have welcomed me into their Facebook groups and I thoroughly enjoy when they share the interesting situations they find themselves in. 

One discussion in those groups that has really fascinated me is the mule vs. just-trailer question. Whenever I read the good-natured arguments, I am reminded of Bob and our hammer vs. nail gun discussions. 

Both of us had our reasons for feeling the way we did about our tools. Bob was such a skilled roofer that he was far better than me—with or without a gun. I did the best I could with a gun but never could catch ol’ Bob.

I did try one day, though. It was a cold winter day (for us Okies) and we needed to quickly finish a large gable-style shed. All we lacked was the roof, so it was agreed that Bob would take one side and I would take the other. Here was my chance! I could show the guys that Bob was not a faster roofer than me. 

The building sat in the north bay of our shop. Billy and the rest of the crew opened the north garage door so they could bring in the shingles. Frigid wind swirled around me as I shivered on the north side of the shed roof. 

I was determined to give Bob a run for his money. Every step I took was at a run. Every shingle was nailed with utmost haste. My head was down, and all my focus was on the next shingle. 

As I was running to grab a few more shingles to finish the end of my side, Bob grinned at me. 

“Waiting on you,” he said with a chuckle. 

His side was finished, and he had the ridge installed all the way down the roof to where my shingles stopped. According to Billy, Bob had not even broken a sweat. I was exhausted!

We finished the shed and took a little break. I never again tried to beat Bob on a roof. A little humility was gained the hard way. 

It was just another good day in the life of a shed builder.

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