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Sitting in a hot tub with a state inspector who drank merlot while I sipped beer.

October 26, 2013

My body was cold from the bones out because of a surf session at Rincon. I was staying at a Best Western. I grabbed a beer and hit the jacuzzi. I saw someone already there, normally I’d pass, but I was cold and wanted to warm up. The guy was bearded, had chicken winged arms, a sunken chest, and red sun marks on his lower arms and on his neck. The rest of his flesh was vanilla yogurt pale  in a bad light. He was 70. Thin. Sipping merlot from a plastic glass.

He worked for the state as an inspector and kept talking. I have a way I talking to people. My simple belief is you don’t become interesting until you get interested in other people.

“You’re an inspector, I guess no one is glad to see you.”

“The contractors I deal with and prisons and hospitals know why I’m there.

“My supervisors will get on me for writing up too many violations. But I won’t sign off on something that’s not up to code. A wall could come down, or a fire. I won’t do that. They’re the ones who get something to look the other way. And some people just never get it. A contractor who bids on a job then tries to get corners and not do the work that’s in the bid or up to code, I just write that up. I’m not signing it off. They can do what they want. They don’t believe that when something comes down, it will eventually come back to them. And it does! I’ve seen it. If something goes wrong it comes back to them.”

“Sometimes though, the higher up have a way of just changing your job definition and dumping on you. It happened to me as a reporter. I did one story about a local politician and wound up getting demoted to an entry -level job. I eventually quit. Told them it was a moral decision. If I had to cover my eyes to the big guys then nail a regular guy on a DUI in the paper I might as well be working for Exxon saying oil is good for seals. Your bosses wanted you to cover your eyes. They’ve never grown up. They’re frozen in time,” I said. “It’s like when you’re a kid, and you steal and get away with it, it’s cool, but when you get caught, you’re just a thief.”

“A thief,” he said, then nodded. “You’re right, they still think they can shove some Tootsie rolls in their pocket and no one is going to see them.”

We parted with smiles, an drained beer can, and a empty glass of wine


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