Mr. Brickie called me from the car sounding out of breath and a little manic. “I have a story to tell you. Don’t let me forget.” I laughed and we said our goodbyes and hung up.

This is what being married is like for me. He knows he will forget good stories if he doesn’t tell me but he wants to be home so he won’t tell me before he leaves work. There is something about the drive home that lulls the stories and happenings of the day right out of him. I write, “Tell your wife a fun story.” on a pink mini post-it and stick it to the bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale in the fridge I know he’ll grab first.

After I close the fridge I, too, forget there is a story coming later. I’m distracted by the time and the list of things I need to do and the knowledge that the girls are about to get off the bus and I’m going to have to go through their folders and sign their student journals and look at grades and praise the day and ask for their stories. All those thoughts wipe clean the anticipation of a story from the Mister when he gets to the house.

Snacks and homework doled out. Papers signed and praised. Husband comes in, says hello to everyone, gets in the shower immediately and changes into something more comfortable. He passes me on the way to the kitchen for a snack and a beer and as I walk toward the table I hear laughter behind me. His laughter. I wonder what is so funny in the kitchen and hope if it’s something he’s found online he’ll show it to me.

He comes out with the bottle of beer held out toward me, post it note still stuck on the front. “You are a genius.” he says. I smile and say, “Thank you.” but really I don’t feel like a genius. I feel like a person who didn’t want to miss out on a story. I tell him if he puts the post it down we’re both going to forget so he better tell me the story before he finishes the beer.

Luckily this is a day I remembered to put something in the crock pot at 10:30am. A pot roast I took out of the freezer at 7am is perched sort of sideways – still over half frozen – on a stick and twig bed of carrots and water. Seasoned and on low, it turns into a lovely meal by the time we are all ready for dinner. I threw some cut up potatoes in there at 1pm so it was a whole thing.

We sit down to dinner and the post it note is not only still stuck to the bottle of beer it has almost become part of the bottle of beer. The condensation and pressure from his hand holding the bottle has the note soaked and plastered on the bottle as if it were part of the label. It dawns on me beer/soda notes (post its specifically made to stick to glass or aluminum in the cold of the fridge) would probably be a great idea.

When everyone has food on their plate and no more passing of bowls or plates is going to happen for a bit I turn to Mr. Brickie and say, “Tell me a story, honey.” He breaks into a grin and says, “Gladly!” Here is the paraphrased version of what he told me at the dinner table that night.

The Story

Mr. Brickie was sitting at lunch with his coworkers including the foreman and the BA (a BA is like a regional manager but completely different but they have regions so it’s the easiest way to explain) and they’re all eating and the foreman and the BA are talking about Mr. Brickie (in that way people talk where they’re by you and they know you can hear but they’re not including you in the conversation).

The foreman said, “He’s really good. He’s smart and thinks ahead. He’s not going to be on the wall long because he’ll be a foreman or doing estimating or something that you need to think for.”

The BA said, “Fuck that. The minute Mr. Brickie goes journeyman I’m making him a BA so you better start kissing his ass now or you’re gonna have a bad time.”

….and they laughed and laughed (no, really, they did)

Mr. Brickie and I were just talking last week and I asked him what his ultimate goal would be … like what kind of career path he saw for himself eventually. He mentioned the training center because he loves to teach but ultimately his, “I’m going to look a little embarrassed right now because I’m telling you what I really want and it makes me feel a little exposed.” was to be a BA.

So it really kind of felt like kismet and Mr. Brickie was SO excited when he told me this story. I asked him, “What about being a BA is so great? Tell me why it would be a cool job.”

He said, “The guaranteed full time work is a great start. You don’t have to worry about the weather and you get paid vacation. You get a company car and a company gas card. Sure, you’re on call but not the kind of on call where you have to go somewhere at 2am.”

Me, “Oh, well, wow. Do you make scale?”

“I know it’s salaried but don’t know if it’s more than scale.”

Huh. Well, to be honest I don’t care if it is more than scale.

When Mr. Brickie gets his raise in June of 2017 after he becomes a journeyman his pay will just barely clear six figures in terms of a full time salary. We wouldn’t ever actually SEE six figures if Mr. Brickie stays on the the wall because of winter and rain days and such. So 40-hours a week regardless of weather is a very, very big deal.

The Potential Downside

“There is… thing.” Mr. Brickie says to me in that tone where you know this is going to be close to a dealbreaker but since nothing is really a dealbreaker in terms of this job you realize that the tone is more of a “Climb Every Mountain” kind of jam instead of a “These Boots Are Made For Walking” jam.

“Yes?” I say, totally cool and not gritting my teeth AT ALL.

“We might have to live in the same region the BA covers.”

A silence falls at the table like even the kids somehow know that is some nuclear level information that just got dropped. “Will we have to move?” asks Middle Sister. “Daddy says he doesn’t know if he’s going to get it for sure so they can’t know that.” says Big Sister. “Will I still be able to go to school this year?” asks always practical Little Sister.

I’m just staring at Mr. Brickie with my mouth hung open like a fish. Moving in two years. Back to Illinois. But, you know, only  maybe.

So hey, this is all conjecture based on a conversation that happened at lunch so I’m not looking for houses to rent and planning to hire the movers! I’m getting much better at letting things unfold naturally and this is one of those times where the news was a nice bit of information and even if nothing comes of it, hearing two guys Mr. Brickie respects talking good stuff about him right in front of him felt good!

I do have to say, though, I swear I did a lot of math before Mr. Brickie started this job and I never remember any of the outcomes having a six figure result. Maybe I tried to add in for three months of unemployment each year … even though this year there was only one month of unemployment due to weather. Ah well, maybe I was trying not to count my chickens before they were hatched.

So that’s the story that might have a lovely happy ending. I’ll find out more soon.


  • Paid vacation and no unpredictable breaks? That would be wonderful!
  • That would certainly help with the pension amount at retirement.
  • What do you mean we might have to move in two years? Fuuuuuuuuuudge.

Follow Up

Mr. Brickie is going to see the BA at the next union meeting and get some clarification on the whole conversation. See about the residency requirement that may or may not be a thing. See if he was even serious. Mr. Brickie is amazing at talking to people and keeping it low key so I’m sure he’ll be able to get some information without seeming overbearing or weird. Thank goodness.

I’ll keep you posted.

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