The Set-Up Crew


 When you’re a Brickie apprentice, working on a large job site like a multi-story condo or some other large composite masonry structure (composite is when there are two tiers of masonry running up parallel, one seen from the outside and one on the inside), the coolest thing is to get on the set-up crew. The set-up crew shows up an hour or so early and sets up the work for the day, which is especially important when beginning a new story.

You get to work with the Laborers and the other trades to lay out the materials so everything is in place and the floor can go up efficiently. You learn the symbolism of the story pole. You check the blueprints for marks and distances so you can make sure, as the day progresses, that all the Masons are going to have the accessories they need to integrate into the story as they build up. If they have a mark for electric boxes, then they need electric boxes when they get to that height. You have to know when that is and have that equipment ready at the right time. It can’t be too early and no way can it be late.

Me (Brick apprentice): “Hey, you got wire nuts?”
Electrician: “Yep.”
Me: “You must go through a lot of underwear.”
Electrician (cracking up with my Foreman): “That’s a new one!”


Yeah, that’s a perk of having thoughts — new jokes. Everyone likes to crack jokes at work, especially early as the coffee is kicking in. If you don’t know, wire nuts are the little caps the Sparks use for joining wire ends inside the junction boxes that are in the walls around you. Just one of those things you never see; one of those mysteries hardly anyone thinks about through the course of a normal day.

On large projects (the good ones, at least), the Contractors and the Foreman of the different trades work together to keep everything humming along. Everything gets synchronized so that everyone is where they need to be with what they need to build on time. It was an awesome and fascinating experience going through that, watching it and participating in it, and it gave a cool new meaning for me for the termorganized labor.

Seriously, it’s very organized and synchronized. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of those buildings, and for leaving my sweat and the energy of my hard work in those walls.


Photo courtesy of: flattop341