Everyone Needs A Jimbo On The Crew
He’ll be 62 in April, his birth name is James but you’ll never get his attention that way, he goes by Jimbo. He’s still getting tattooed, too, he’s currently working on his left arm sleeve—a giant, naked mermaid in full color. He’s a Denver Broncos fan which means during football season, his mohawk is bright orange, yeah, the senior citizen rocks a six inch mohawk, too. He’s one of the coolest, most sincere and kind hearted individuals I’ve ever crossed paths with—I’m glad we met.
See that bottle of water on the desk behind him in the above image? He hadn’t started drinking beers yet, it’s still early at the time of this photo, most people have an intoxicated excuse for climbing onto an unstable folding chair and start flexing their muscles first thing in the morning—not Jimbo. That’s just his way of letting you know he’s awake. I looked for a picture of his mohawk just now, it seems I don’t have one in my phone, you’ll have to take my word for it. I have this one, though, you can imagine what his mohawk looks like with some gel in it, spiked and dyed orange.
I met him 11 years ago when I was building CityCenter in Las Vegas, Nevada. A few weeks after I cleared out to the project, three new guys were hired onto my crew. One of them was Jimbo—a Journeyman Wireman out of Local Union 969, Grand Junction, Colorado USA—we instantly became great friends.
We worked that project together for a little over a year. He was disappointed when I ended up quitting and running as fast as I could, literally, for Mammoth Mountain, in the Inyo National Forest of California. He was disappointed because we were parting ways but he was well aware of my reasoning so I had his full support. You see, I had a real bad drinking problem back then, well, bad if you ask me or anyone who knows me, however, if you asked the folks over at Jim Beam’s distillery, they’d probably decline to comment—fair enough. I went to Mammoth Mountain with just my problem self and my dog, The Rook, we rented a little studio apartment for the next 60 days. It was one of several attempts to sober up and, although it required about five more years to complete the process, those 60 days helped pull my soul out of a dark place.
Jimbo and I kept in contact when I left Las Vegas by way of text message or an occasional phone call. We would keep each other updated where we were working at the time, who’s doing what, etc. we made each other’s phones ring from all over the United States—we both liked chasing the big overtime jobs.
I called him again at the beginning of 2011 after I took a job call to Ivanpah Solar Power Facility—a massive construction project in the middle of the desert with all of the overtime you could possibly handle. He was visiting his son in Colorado at the time, he said as cold as it is at his son’s house, it’s even colder in the middle of the desert so he’d come out there but it wouldn’t be for a few more months. When a guy from Colorado says it’s cold—it’s cold!
He ended up working under my cousin. He was on a completely different part of the project than I was so I rarely saw him on the job but his task was simple, my cousin could keep him out of the sun and sitting in a chair all day—perfect for the old man!
We got together on the weekends and hung out after work occasionally. I stayed on that project for about a year, one year is the maximum I can work for anyone, Jimbo and I spent a lot of time together during that year. When I left, I shook his hand, said goodbye and I didn’t see him again for two years.
I haven’t seen Jimbo since we were in the middle of the desert. I’m not even sure how how much time passed since our last phone conversation when I saw him again in April, 2013, when my mother died—I was 37. A few weeks later was her memorial service and who’s there in an electric blue, Hawaiian print, button up shirt, flip flops, a sombrero and a pair of cut off jeans? Jimbo! What a pleasant surprise—I wasn’t expecting that.
I saw him as I made my way inside the service, I was surprised to see him, to this day I don’t know how he found out. I shook his hand and gave him a big hug, “thanks a lot for coming, Jimbo, I’m really glad to see you.” He hugged me back as hard as he could and whispered in my ear “you F’ing” (he dropped the real F word)... “you F’ing A right Arts!” He said a formality of some sort when your buddy’s mother dies and, before I entered the church, he told me “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world—I love you bro!”
I didn’t see him at the reception, I don’t even know if he stayed for the whole service, I didn’t see him again that day. Several months passed until we spoke again, I don’t remember exactly how long, our phone calls tend to happen later rather than sooner. I didn’t see him again until the beginning of 2016—three years later.
He was working in San Jose, California, I was working in Los Angeles and I knew my career was nearing its end—his was also. I talked to him on the phone and he was having a great time working in the Bay Area of California; contractors were offering overtime, commutes weren’t too terrible, Jimbo checked all of the boxes for me. I quit my job in Los Angeles that week—next stop:
We found an apartment in Oakland, California, loaded up our things in a van and took off. By the time I arrived the next day, Jimbo met me at my new front door, he was with my cousin and, the three of us, along with my now wife (we were dating at the time), unloaded the moving van and got us moved into our new apartment. That apartment, by the way, was one exit south of Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors play—I’ll never do that again! What a mess! Although the fireworks display on the nights they won was spectacular, that 880 freeway was a parking lot when the Warriors had a home game—a 15 mile commute could take as long as three hours when the Warriors were playing.
I bounced around a couple of different jobs in the area while Jimbo maintained his employment at a children’s hospital in Palo Alto, California—we got together a few times during the week.
Finally, in the summer of 2016, Jimbo left his employer and took a vacation in Colorado—he spent some time with his kids and grandkids. When he came back, I had a plan: I’d leave whatever contractor I was working for at the time and go stand shoulder to shoulder with Jimbo, in San Jose, California, at the Union Hall until we landed a job together—that’s what we did.
We called ourselves the breakfast club for a few weeks because we were having a difficult time landing a job together each day, however, we didn’t have any problems making it to breakfast together every morning. One morning there was approximately 50 job calls all around the Bay Area and about six of them were reporting to Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. My wife and I were staying less than five miles from the project—perfect! Plus, we got wOrd they were working overtime—even better.
It worked! Jimbo and I both received job clearances to Stanford, we went and had breakfast together like we’d been doing the previous two weeks and, when we were finished eating, we headed toward Palo Alto. Next stop:
We shook hands with our new employer, pissed in a bottle for our drug screening, typical hiring formalities but before we began our job site orientation, I pulled a fast one. I lied to the contractor and said Jimbo and I were room mates and we only had one vehicle between the two of us so we’d be carpooling and needed to be assigned to the same crew—it worked (again)!
As we were filling out our taxes information and being instructed how to appropriately fill out our on-boarding paperwork, we were asked when our birthday is, “date of birth?” I told the lady my birthday and then Jimbo told her his, “April 26th.” I remember that day like it was yesterday—it was a Friday.
“You spent your birthday at my mothers funeral, Jimbo?” “You F’ing A (again, he dropped the whole F wOrd) right I did, Arts!” As he stuck his fist out toward me and I gave him some knuckles, we continued our paperwork. I was so humbled at that moment, I couldn’t wait to get outside and find out just how far he traveled on his birthday to be at the service. About an hour later was break time, I wasn’t surprised by Jimbo’s actions, I just was unaware until that moment—I couldn’t wait to hear the #story! I wanted to know what job he was on, how much overtime he sacrificed, what state he was in when he got the news, how long it took him to get to Southern California etc—I wanted all of the details.
“Where were you working, Jimbo, when you heard about my mother? How far did you have to travel? Tell me all about it—don’t leave anything out.” He said he wasn’t working at the time, “I was on vacation when I got the news!” He told me he was on the Colorado River, in the middle of a three week white water rafting/ camping trip through the Grand Canyon with his kids, two brothers, a whole list of family and friends and he couldn’t exit the boat fast enough.
“I had the tour guide radio for a Jeep to meet us at the next emergency pick-up location (he explained they’re stationed along the river in case someone gets injured), that took about 24 hours. I left my rafting trip to be driven to the airport and got a round trip ticket to Los Angeles.” He said “I gave myself just enough time to drive a rental car to the church and say hello, I didn’t even have a change of clothes (hence the sombrero and cut-off’s). I didn’t have time to go inside, either, as soon as I saw you, I gave you a hug and went back to the airport to catch up with my vacation—I almost missed my flight! They held the plane on the tarmac for me.”
The fact that Jimbo spent his birthday at my mothers memorial was minor by the time I heard the whole story—I still can’t believe he did that. The man left his family vacation in a remote part of the world, forcing his family to remain camped in that location until he returned. God knows how much planning went into that vacation and we can assume he paid four or five times the amount of money for that last minute, round trip plane ride which ultimately caused him to miss at least 24 hours of his vacation—everyone needs a Jimbo in their life.
We had a good time working together on that Stanford project, we built a handful of #new memories there—it ended up being the second to last gig in the trade for both of us. I finished my career at a Hewlett-Packard facility in Menlo Park, California, and he went to San Francisco. By the end of 2016, he and I were filling out some documents again, just not together—pension papers.
My friend, Jimbo—a senior citizen who’s still getting tattoos, rocks a mohawk and has taken the shirt off of his back for me—I lost count how many times! I have one more quick story to share with you about Jimbo—the impromptu comedian who doesn’t need a stage to perform.
We’re at a safety meeting one morning, on that Stanford job, the foreman is going over details and job assignments, making us aware of the new or existing hazards in the area, etc. Jimbo stopped the safety meeting abruptly, “hold on a F’ing (you know he said it) minute!” He stood up in front of the fellas, the job steward, everyone: “You know how an Irishmen pulls up his socks?!” We were all stumped when he interrupted the foreman as though he’s got some earth shattering news, I mean, this is a safety meeting we’re attending. “Do what now?” The foreman asked with a confused look on his face. Jimbo repeated himself, “do you know how an Irishmen pulls up his socks?” Again, nobody knew what he was getting at so a group of confused responses chimed in: “No??”
While on his feet and in front of the entire crew, supervision included, after interrupting the foreman’s safety meeting, Jimbo unbuckled his belt and dropped his pants to his ankles. He reached down and pulled up his socks, one at a time, before finally pulling his pants back up. He buckled his belt and sat back down in his chair as though what he just did was perfectly normal behavior. “You were saying, boss-man?” Jimbo asked the foreman. Of course, we all got a real good laugh out of it, we couldn’t stop laughing actually, and the foreman continued on with his safety meeting while shaking his head in disbelief.