Talking Shop…and a welder playing sociologist.
When you get coworkers together, they often talk shop and it can be tiresome. Invariably it comes down to at most a half dozen general topics. My experience in welding shops shows that it comes down to bitching about the boss, debates about what welding process best suits a situation, reminiscing about a particular work experience, a crash-to-pass race car that’s being built, or aspects and issues of past and current projects.
This last couple weeks I’ve been welding for a crew of groundskeepers so I’ve been taking my lunches with horticulturists. Their shop talk is as limited in scope as anybody else’s but since it’s new to me, I find it very refreshing. Talk of apples, orchid sightings while hiking, work on their gardens…but to my surprise, no bitching about the boss.
What really surprised me was that amongst the groundskeepers there seemed to be a general lack of pretense and bitchiness. I didn’t hear a single instance of somebody blowing their own horn; just a quiet confidence and a desire to do their work.
I’ve been thinking about what gives me this impression. Their group process has all of the aspects you’d find elsewhere but it doesn’t seem to get in the way of getting work done like it did in other place where I’ve worked. There was good esprit de corps in their department, influenced by many variables relating to how they’re managed, but I’ve seen and experienced this elsewhere.
When I think of these groundskeepers in comparison to other crews I’ve worked with, the most obvious difference to me was their low turnover; their jobs are secure. It seems to me that welders are, generally speaking, one of the more itinerant trades and I suppose that because of this, our groups seldom gets too high up Cog’s Ladder.
….or perhaps this sense of wonder I’m experiencing is the natural reaction of a reprobate observing normal people.