Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rocky Mountain High Hopes

As many of you know, I recently started working for a company that specializes in retail construction. Our clients are corporations with a multitude of locations, which they pay us to make presentable.

 As soon as I filled out the paperwork and accepted the job offer, I was nervous. I've never done retail construction... I've mostly worked within an hour of home. Now, I have a job where I never actually meet the client (hell, I have yet to actually meet my boss), and am states away from home. My preparation for this first venture out was one day of work an hour and a half away from where I'm living, with two guys I'd never met, one of whom had to leave halfway through the day for a company meeting about how to deal with new hires who are having trouble keeping pace with people who've been working there for a while. It seems that almost everyone I'm working with specializes in painting... which kind of sucks for me because I, allegedly, specialize in finish carpentry, but painting is easier. So, while I'm building framing for store signs and figuring out how to fit these signs over pre-existing shelving units without leaving any of the mounting visible, the guys who have been working here longer will be rolling paint on the walls and helping me while it dries.
This is not to say I'm the only carpenter. Actually, I've been, for the past few days, sort of assigned to follow one of the guys who everyone seems to go to for answers. A Mexican Wizard of Oz of retail construction, if you will. But this brings me back to my first day of work. Actually, it brings me back to a few days before my first day of work. To protect the (possibly) innocent, I will slightly change his name. When I turned in my paperwork, and was given my work assignments for the coming weeks, the women in the office told me I would be working under this guy, and that I would have to pay attention (which, if you know me well, you will know is my strong suit.... getting distracted and thinking about how awesome it would be if I could shoot spider webs out of my wrists is not), because he would just do his work and expect me to learn. The guys in Hemet, where I spent my first sweat drenched day told me, "Oh, you're working with Raymondo? Haha... watch out, he will work right over you. He doesn't stop to explain what he's doing."... so... I was obviously excited to chase after Raymondo trying to figure out what he was doing and why, so I could duplicate it on the next job. Add to this the fact that Raymondo tells me, "Every job is different, so you have to always figure things out as you go, but do it the same way.", and perhaps understand how desperately I am trying to convince everyone (including myself) that I know what I'm doing.
I admit, this all sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The work is really not as stressful as it seems, and it's not like the work that I'm used to, where (if I do something wrong) people could perhaps die, or be injured, or have their house flooded or burned down. Basically, what we do is fix as many things as the corporate office (of whichever store we're working in) thinks necessary in order to please as many customers as possible, while spending as little money as they can. "Oh, a thousand linoleum tiles are cracked or severely stained and need replaced, and it will take a week to get that all done?... well, how about you replace the cracked ones with whatever color tile you have as long as it's close enough and we call it good?". My work is to what needs done as lipstick is to pig.
They had told me, also, when I was turning in my paperwork, that there was the option of going to either Colorado or Arizona. Having been to Arizona, I knew two things: 1) It's July, Arizona is going to be somewhere near the temperature of 95% of a Hot Pocket fresh out of the microwave (but not the 5% in the middle which is somehow still frozen after two minutes on high), and 2) going somewhere I've already been won't give me the chance to shade in another state on my map of America. I told them I'd take Colorado, and began researching Colorado breweries that weren't Coors as soon as I got back to my computer. I decided that I would go to at least two breweries while I was here, possibly three if time allowed. 1) Great Divide Brewery whose Yeti Imperial Stout is ranked #44 on the American Home Brewer's Association's list of the best beers in America for 2011, 2) Breckenridge Brewery, which I have heard very good things about ( here), and possibly 3) Oskar Blue's brewery whose Dale's IPa and Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout ranked 16th and 31st, respectively. I also thought, time permitting, I would like to get close enough at least to touch part of the rocky mountains. While I do not care to taste the Rockies (if they taste anything like that bland, fizzy, yellow beer that defiles their image), I would very much like to see and feel and smell them.
The first day we were here was spent at two different stores, and we did not get back to the hotel until after nine. Just enough time to heat up some dinner (purchased at Walmart), take a shower, call some people (you know who you are), and go to bed. After having flown out here at 6:35 am, I was all too eager to get to bed. Today, the second day, we stayed in one store, trying to finish as much of it as possible. What with waking (alliteration is fun) up at 6 to get the free hotel breakfast and get to home depot, and all the rain flooding the streets... oh, and the fact that I don't actually have my own transportation... today turned out to be a bad day to try out any of those breweries. And, since I've found out that tonight is our last night in Denver before moving on to Fountain, and Colorado Springs, I'm guessing that I won't be able to try those beers in the brewery where they were made, and cross them off of my list. All is not lost, however, in my quest to taste good beer in Colorado. After getting to the hotel at a decent hour tonight, we decided to go to a little bar across the street for dinner and much deserved drinks. Though it's close enough to walk, we chose to drive because none of us counted on all of this rain, and failed to bring anything waterproof. Raylondo doesn't drink, so he stayed at the hotel and watched futbol while the other three of us went out. The guy I'm rooming with is young... and white (since I know you're all wondering if I only work with Mexicans)... and appreciates craft beer. The other guy likes Bud Light, and Corona; and as my room-mate for the weeks said, "People who like that stuff.... they'll never learn what good beer is.". At the bar, I had a bacon cheeseburger calzone (so damn good), a pint of some beer called "hazed and infused", which the bartender told me was "a really nice ale which is dry hopped, so it's more like an IPA", a pint of O'Dell's IPA, and a pint of "Colorado Native" Lager. The bartender told me that Colorado Native is brewed by Coors (which is not entirely true. It's brewed by AC Golden Brewing, a micro-brewery owned by Coors which operates out of Coors' headquarters). With the knowledge that Colorado Native is brewed by Coors, I immediately decided not to drink it. That is until my room mate had one and said it was really good. I had one. Then another. It's a lager, which I generally don't like... but somehow it tastes more like an amber ale got mixed with a honey wheat ale. It's really very delicious. I kind of wish that Coors would stop making it's signature lager and just start making this, but then I would have to like Coors, and I'm not ready to do that. Afterward, when my co-workers wanted to go out to another place, I (being the party animal that I am) opted instead to go next door to the liquor store to see if they had any interesting Colorado beers, and walk back to my hotel room... where I am now blogging. The liquor store had cans of Oskar Blue's Dale's IPA, which I bought and plan to share with my co-workers (it is my mission to convert the Corona Drinker to a Craft Beer drinker). While I have not been able to do all of the things I would like to do here in Denver, I am content in the fact that I was able to taste O'Dell's IPA (22nd on the top beer list), buy a pack of the 16th best beer in America in the state where it was made, and find a good beer made by a bad beer company. Perhaps the rest of the week in Colorado will bring more excitement. And maybe, if they ever have me come back out here (as I'm told is likely), I will have enough time beforehand to drive here myself and camp in the Rocky Mountains, and go experience these breweries which are trying to redeem Colorado's name in the beer drinking world.

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