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Just a Steel-Town Girl on a Friday Night, Drinking Beer on Her Buddy’s Couch

So, today finished up my week of working in the steel shop with my husband and our college buddy, Jason.  When I set foot in the shop on Monday, I knew nothing about building scenery with steel.  Shit, all I knew about steel was that it was metal.  But as with 75% of what I know about technical theatre, Kyle taught me everything I needed to know, and oddly enough, I had a blast this week.  Something about working with steel really appealed to me.  Part of it is that working with steel made me feel really badass.  I mean, if you think about it, there is no manlier building material than steel.  I felt totally hardcore swaggering around the shop with a stick of steel over my shoulder.  Of course, the downside of working with steel is that it’s an incredibly filthy building material.  My nails are permanently gray and I left the shop everyday resembling an orphan in a Charles Dickens play.  (I took a picture because today was particularly bad, (think Mary Poppins chimney sweeps,) but the picture is so terrible that I refuse to post it.)

The other thing that I adored about working with steel all week is that every step of the building process requires that you use powerful tools, all which throw incredible sparks.  I spent a large portion of my time this week working at an abrasion saw cutting steel to specific lengths, and the spark that thing threw were epic; I felt like I was at the center of a 4th of July sparkler.  It was beautiful and dangerous all at the same time, which made it all the more beautiful.  Even after the 100s of pieces I had to  cut this week, I don’t think I could ever get tired of that.

Despite my new-found love of building with steel, however, I don’t exactly see a new career path emerging.  For one, I don’t know enough about general building.  I can cut the shit out of a stick of steel, and I can grind that bitch til’ it’s smooth, but after that…I kind-of don’t know what to do with it.  I can follow  you around with it, maybe lean it up against the wall, but it sure as hell ain’t going to turn into scenery in my hands.

But also, let’s face it, I was working in the best possible work conditions in the world.  For the most part, it was just me and my husband in the shop, working and listening to 80’s stadium rock; I could not ask for more perfect working conditions.  Unless there was maybe a slushy machine in the corner.  That would be awesome.  Besides, I’m no idiot, I realize that our little shop functioned differently from a real metal shop.  In a real shop, I couldn’t tell my boss to go fuck himself, and in a real shop I sure as hell would have gotten my ass beat for not only playing Madonna, but singing it at the top of my lungs. Working with steel in the real world would never be as much fun as it was this week, and I’m okay with that.

No, I’ll stick with hanging lights and plugging them in.  I’ll save building with steel for our next vacation.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Katy April 12, 2009, 9:54 pm


    Sounds like you took my job for the week. Glad you enjoyed it though. Now you know what an afternoon in the shop at Millikin was generally like once that was all Kyle and I would/were doing. 🙂

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