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Build them up with bricks and stones

I don’t remember where William Goldman writes about easy money at the brick factory, but it has stuck in my mind ever since. Essentially, the story is that one summer during college (I’m doing this from memory, so assume that it’s actually winter break during high school or some such), William Goldman decides that instead of working as a caddy or a grocery bagger for crap pay, he will work down at the brick factory and make really good money. He’s young, he’s strong, he’s broke. And he goes over to the industrial part of town and gets the job, with the factory boss warning him that if he doesn’t finish the day, he doesn’t get any pay at all. And the guys at the factory are nice, and they show him the ropes, and none of the class/education stuff he had worried about seems to be an issue at all. And he starts work.

And it’s hard work, but he’s done yard work and all that before, and he pretty quickly gets into a rhythm, and soon he’s wondering why all his high school buddies don’t come on down and get the easy money at the brick factory. And he breaks for lunch, stretches, sits down and eats, and when it’s time to get up, he can’t. He struggles up to his spot in the line, and bends over to pick up the first load and it feels like somebody hit him across the spine with a lead pipe.

And as he stumbles to the office to give up (without any pay at all), the other workers stop what they’re doing and chant easy money at the brick factory, easy money at the brick factory.

This is a lesson that Mr. Goldman says he always remembers. Whatever shit a Hollywood producer is making him eat, it’s not easy money at the brick factory. My own summers doing factory work were not so laborious, although as a result of them I still categorize jobs into (1) sitting down or standing up, and (b) air-conditioned or not. Jobs where you sit in an air-conditioned room? That’s easy money.

In fact, I suspect that I repeat (at least in my head) the quote easy money at the brick factory more than I repeat any other William Goldman quote, although my response to the meme would have to be she does not get eaten by the sharks [eels] at this time, and I probably say that out loud more than the brick factory. I imagine I will tell the brick factory story to my Perfect Non-Reader at some point, and again to the Youngest Member. Probably several times, in fact.

By which time I hope there will once more be easy money at the brick factory. Because not so much at the moment.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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