All you need to know about Roofers
“In awe, I watched the waxing moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered chariot towards the ebony void of infinite space wherein the tethered belts of Jupiter and Mars hang, for ever festooned in their orbital majesty. And as I looked at all this I thought... I must put a roof on this toilet.”
Les Dawson has a point. When you need a roofer, you need a roofer. You can do without the painter, the tiler, and chippie. You can also do without the plasterer and the brickie and the landscape gardener. But, like the heating engineer or the plumber, a roofer is usually sought out when you’ve go an emergency that needs sorting out. Now.
Roofers only do roofs by the way. They won’t paint, they won’t do the odd bit of carpentry (save sawing battens). But they will strip you roof bare at the drop of a hat and have it ship-shape and water-tight before you can get to the bank to withdraw their cash.
Roofers are an interesting lot. I can roof. I can do more in fact – I can actually pitch the roof that the roofers will then felt, batten and tile or slate. But I am not a roofer. Most builders will turn their hand to roofing – usually tile of slate replacements (that’s £80 thank you). Or perhaps pointing in ridge and hip tiles (£15-20 per tile)? They even get up and flash around chimneys (arm and a leg).
But that does not make them roofers.
Roofers drive bitumen-stained trucks that are festooned with enough ladders to kit out a small nation’s fire brigade. There will be three of them in the van – and, if you see your local firm buzzing through town on their way to work at 7 am, you will observe the following; one roofer driving, one roofer smoking and one roofer asleep.
You never know, the three of them may even have been to the pub together the night before?
On board their van they will have numerous worn-down brooms and burnished blow torches with cracked orange hoses coiled around huge gas canisters. There will be half-rolls of felt and lead and every corner they take will rattle to the sound of spilled copper nails.
The cab will be knee-deep with the paper detritus of various fast food restaurants as well as old copies of the Sun. Maybe roofers recycle? Outside, the van’s wheel arches will be caked with last winter’s mud and there will be dents on every panel. You won’t see a tax disc on the windscreen – the van will be taxed and insured, but the disc will be flat on the dash which will be exactly where the driver leaves it every six months once he’s inserted the new disc into the plastic sleeve. He loves it when the old bill stop him erroneously thinking him to be illegal.
But, you know what? This mobile business unit/come home (we builders have all spent the odd night or two in our vans when we’ve had a disagreement with our wives) is heaven on earth to roofer. It represents freedom. It is self-sufficiency, it is direction and above it is a place where there are no customers: it is a haven between the verbal trickery of work and the responsibilities of home.
You see, of all the trades, when he gets to work, the roofer has got it made. Roofers are hard, so they don’t care about the winters. Plus the get to look into illuminated bathroom windows with their morning tea. And in the summer… it’s sun-tan city – these guys wouldn’t look out of place as extras in “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum.” AND they get to ogle the girls walking by (to the serious detriment of productivity).
In fact a good title for a roofer’s autobiography might be as follows: “Roofs and girls. And the pub.”
But, seriously these guys really have it made because they WORK ON A ROOF. Have you ever been on a roof? Really? Did anyone actually see you?
And working on a roof means 2 things. Great views and no customers sticking their noses in on the act them every 2 seconds with minor suggestions. It is the trades equivalent of self-determination. Occasionally, this equilibrium is disturbed by the rain. At this point the roofers have to go to the pub or café until it stops. But thence comes another expression of their freedom. If they don’t feel like going back to work once things have dried up, well they just won’t. Simple as. They’ll pick their tools up where they left them the next day and carry on where they left off. Usually with a monstrous hangover.
Imagine taking that attitude with your boss. “Right I couldn’t do any work because my computer was broken, but now it’s fixed I’ve decided that I want to go home. Or stay in the pub.”
If you’re a roofer, the boss would be the one suggesting you all go home. Or stay in the pub.
So when you see a battered old roofer’s van at the crack of dawn, or see some t-shirted silhouettes atop a three-bedroom semi when it reads -17C on your Audi’s temperature gauge, don’t feel sorry for these men amongst men. Maybe envy them just a little. I know I do. After all, I really do believe roofers have got it made.
If you are still unconvinced, try distilling your business, your work day, your office politics, your HR department, your health and safety, you time management system into a 6 step process that is as succinct and elegant as a roofer’s modus operandi:
1. The customer wants a new roof.
2. The customer buggers off.
3. The roofers put a new roof on.
4. The customer pays the roofers.
5. The roofers bugger off.
6. The roofer is in the pub.
Never has building work been so simple and so stress-free.
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