Over the past year or more, things as related to work go, have been pretty fluid.
About 3-1/2 years ago , we moved to an area that was new to my wife and I to allow me to pursue a career in welding education with a community college here in Greeneville. Unfortunately (or maybe not), it didn’t work out. (Not giving up on that one though). It was September of 2016 when I decided to let someone else have the opportunity to shine at that position. No planning, no other job lined up, just a phone conversation related to what I could or couldn’t do and me stating “You can have this in 2 months”. Came home,told my understanding wife and she said she was surprised it took this long.
Since that time I have worked in various welding related capacities without starving. It has been a bit of a struggle to match the salary the college was providing as “The Director of Welding Education and Training” however the job satisfaction was instant. I was able to work in various welding related capacities such as inspection, consulting, a little training, and welder testing/certification. All of these things are rewarding, but as I spend less time doing actual work, I realize that my skills with my hands are fading. As I get older, the challenge to work as a welder will become greater. Vision, mobility, weight etc…
This really came to light when I recently tested for a constriction project in my areas. I wasn’t concerned about making a decent weld while testing and figured it was gonna be fun. Any time I can play with “the fire” I’m happy. The tests were two 2-3/4″ OD x 5/8″ Wall Super Coupons. One TIG all the way out and the other Stick over TIG. The tests went fine and passed RT but what really hit me was how I felt after the test. I had kneeled down and stood up probably a hundred times while welding from bottom to top of the coupons. When I got home that night, I could barely get out of the car and walk. I’m only 53 years old but the sedentary work of teaching and inspection had taken its toll on me. I was an old fat man! Sure, my hands kinda knew what to do but my body had to pay for it.
The Lord has been very good to me over the years in many ways including my health. Since moving up here, I have gained over 45 lbs. This is not a good size to be as a welder that likes to enjoy his work. After passing the test and realizing how sore I was I began to get a little worried about working in the field. It has now been one week since I started and I am feeling much better. This is partially due to my wonderful wife encouraging us to go on a diet. But also the work itself is great. Just me, some pipe, the fire, and life is good. Though a few welds in the pipe rack have been a bit more challenging than I remember them in the past, I have yet to be run off the job.
Welding is a wonderful career for me. I have been blessed with being able to work in many capacities within this trade but besides teaching, none are more rewarding than just getting out there and welding. Hopefully I can keep it going but there are some pretty slick hands out here. And some not so slick.