We worked for the redhead for a couple of weeks bricking his three-story building. When we were through, he took us to the Bricking Pool. The Bricking Pool was a building where all the bricking brigades spent their time waiting to be called out to do a job. Generally, whichever brigade that had been their the longest was the first to be called out, although some foremen had a relationship with some of the brigades with whom they preferred working. Usually, it was accepted practice for them to call out those they had a working relationship with. The morning after we finished the redhead’s three-story job, we checked in with the Bricking Pool. They gave us a number, and we sat down. We sat at a table as the others did. Some of the brigades played cards, some of them slept. Some that slept knew that it would be three days before they would be called again, so, the would get drunk and sleep it off while they waited.
Martin was restless, so, he went around to the tables talking to all the brigades. When he came back to our table, he sat down and whispered loudly enough for everybody at our table to hear. He whispered, “Hey, I’ve got news!” We all leaned into the table in order to hear him. Quietly, he said, “We will be number ten to be called up. The guys holding chit seven say they won’t work even if they are called. They’re too hung over, so, I guess that makes us number nine. But the strange thing is the Russian crew that we replaced on the redhead’s project has been skipped twice in the normal rotation.
I said, “Oops! That sounds like a certain crew hasn’t been doing their job properly!”
Martin said, “Oh, yeah! Every foreman they have worked for has lodged complaints against them!”
I wondered out loud, “Do you think that just because they won the war that they think they are better than we are?”
George replied, “Their girls certainly aren’t better than our girls. Some of them are just boot ugly!”
We laughed at that and just sat at the table laughing, telling stories, and watching the work brigades be called out. As we watched, we became number five. Four work crews were ahead of us. We were sitting watching the door when we saw Heinrich, the first foreman we had worked, the redhead, and another foreman talking at the front. They were talking to the head man at the work house, the man who called the work crews out. They saw us watching them. The two foremen pointed at us and spoke excitedly to the work scheduler. The work scheduler waved for us to come to the front. The other four crews ahead of us saw us start toward the front and began to complain loudly. The work scheduler waved them to silence.
Our work crew walked to the front. I greeted Heinrich and the redhead. I asked, “What’s happening, gentlemen?”
The redhead exclaimed, “Ernst here,” he pointed at the third man, “has a huge brick problem!”
“I asked, “What kind of a brick problem?”
Heinrich said, “Instead of trying to describe it, we need to take you to see it!”
Martin complained, “But we’ll lose our place in line!”
The work scheduler said, “It’s okay. Your brigade has been called out. It’s an honor to be called out, you know?”
“I said, “We didn’t know that, but thank you for telling us!” I turned to the redhead and Heinrich, and I smiled said, “Let’s go solve this foreman’s problem!”
They lead us across the enormous building project. When we arrived at Ernst’s project, we were stunned at his problem. The five of we stone masons were thinking the same thing; sabotage!”
Ernst’s project was a bricked up three-story building, the bricking job around the building was a decent enough job but someone had knocked the bricks out of the first story up to the second story. Whoever knocked the bricks out, knocked them out in the shape of an inverted V.
The redhead saw my look of concern as we studied the damage. He asked, “Can you tell what caused this to happen?”
I looked at each ...