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Apparenticeship: Considering quitting..

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  • Apparenticeship: Considering quitting..

    I'm a Plumber's Apprentice out of Texas. I started six months ago, and I've spent hundreds on tools, books, anything I need on the job. I've maintained 100% attendance, even through the endless overnights and oncalls. I just finished a near 36 hour shift eight hours ago. I'm exhausted and the disrespect I'm facing from coworkers is making it difficult for me to continue. I really want to become a licensed plumber, but I'm having a hard time continuing. I'm doubting myself, and I'm thinking I'm not cut out for this line of work. I can take criticism, and I take responsibility and learn from my mistakes, but I can not take the disrespect and lying I'm seeing from my coworkers. This is getting ridiculous, and being used to Construction, it's not something I've ever seen elsewhere.

    I worked under a licensed plumber for a few months, but he quit. He was the only licensed Plumber. So they have been bouncing me around, and having me do service calls, etc. Another Apprentice ran a 1/2" snake down the cast-iron vent and the line broke through it. I was sent to go make a repair. I was chipping around this vent pipe to try to get a repair-coupling on it and I accidentally nicked the waterline. It was an old corroded manifold copper water-line, and I didn't see the part where it branched off. I was more than 24 hours into a shift, and I just didn't see it.
    I shutoff the water and kept working on it. I was supposed to go help another Plumber after I fixed this thing. I called him and told him I was going to a be a short while because I accidentally nicked the line and was fixing it. He exploded over the phone because he needed me over there to lift the waterheater into place and so he came over, (a one year apprentice), pulled me off of my work and screamed in my face infront of the store's kitchen employees. He screamed at me that I was a "worthless ****ing helper, and not a plumber.", kept calling me worthless, and that it was a mistake for the company to hire me in, that I was never going to make it if I make mistakes like this, etc.
    He tried sending me Home, but I stuck around and worked to get this thing fixed.

    I'm tired of working hours like this and facing this type of disrespect from my coworkers. I covered this guys oncall for Thanksgiving week, and then he treats me like a Dog as soon as he comes back from Thanksgiving. I'm about to do another three-week oncall stretch (covering Christmas)and the disrespect is getting bad enough that I'm considering quitting. $12 isn't enough. They're telling me I have another overnight Friday and I just don't know. I remember being passionate about this trade when I started, but I'm getting to where I'm resenting the attitude. I know if I do something, it wouldn't be somebody else's way of doing it.

    Example: I was doing a tankless installation and the Plumber above was allclear, and so came over to help me with it. He tour out all of my PEX fittings and replaced them with sharkbite. He told me that PEX fittings melt under hot water, and that it was a ''stupid move'' to use PEX. He says sharkbite is faster, more durable, and that I'm costing the company time and money when I use PEX fittings. He told me that he shouldn't have to keep going behind me and redoing my work because I can't do it right. (I'll attach a picture of the sharkbite Navian).

    Should I just call it quits? Did you guys have a hard-time during Apprenticeship? I don't know if this is normal for the trade, the Plumber I was working under didn't like it and quit for that reason. Any advice? I'm just tired of working like this and being treated like this.

    Last edited by Suff; 12-07-2017, 01:21 AM.

  • #2
    Sounds like you need to find a real shop that appreciates you. union or non union, but typically this wouldn't go on in a union shop.

    Stick with this career. you just need to find a shop that appreciates you. Have you tried signing up with the union?

    phoebe it is


    • #3
      The Navian Sharkbite Water heater mentioned in the OP.
      Last edited by Suff; 12-07-2017, 01:23 AM.


      • sewermonster85
        sewermonster85 commented
        Editing a comment
        Slop work ,that is just a mess

    • #4
      Sounds like you work with a bunch of jackasses. Just find a better shop and keep going bro. Sharkbites!! WTF!!


      • #5
        You have the poor luck of getting stuck with a bunch of jerks and you need to get away from them especially if A: you hustle B: can think on your feet. I have to assume you can show up on time every day, not early by 15 minutes not late by 15 minutes, on time and put in 8 hours of work not 8 1/2 certainly not 7 1/2.

        If you are reasonably equipped, have a neat(er) appearance and have a decent attitude there is no reason why you can't work for a good company. Great employees are valued and if you think you fit that description then go apply to a better shop. Keep looking for better shops until you find one that works out, preferably a union shop where you will learn facts not BS.

        It's always important that you follow what the foreman or journeyman directs you to do but having said that never assume that any foreman or journyman knows what he's talking about. Most Journymen are uninformed because they never bother to learn the craft but rather do what's easy or because " that's the way we've always done it".

        You will often see these "experts" install piping out of plumb or incorrect slope with no fasteners taking no pride in the appearance or compliance. This is partly because it's the way they learned.

        I get a laugh out of these experts that talk about " this being faster " or " that being faster" and " look at the time wasted " and " it cost the company money " because most the those guys waste about an hour (or more) a day which around here for 260 work days is about 20 grand. So if you got a crew that works 10 guys and they all are screwed up its big time money. More money than any chicken crap shark bite DYI junk. Moreover they don't think anything of wasting the company's money by riding you all day when what they should be doing is teaching you how to produce and make money for the company.

        Find a better shop, don't stop looking until you find Journymen that know what they're talking about. I recommend you look into commercial work but don't limit yourself to just that.
        Last edited by Mightyservant; 12-07-2017, 09:48 PM.


        • #6
          Where in TX are you? I could probably land you a job fairly easily
          Buy cheap, buy twice.


          • #7
            Many occupations that are "hands on" with fabrication are some of the last areas left where PC hasn't completely invaded. (Thank goodness!) So in my experience, a certain amount of ball busting is expected and builds the character of a person.

            This is also a proven scientific fact by the way if anyone is curious. To build the strength of the human psyche, like all muscles, you have to stress a point.

            What you describe though, if accurate, is over-stressing it. And just like if you were lifting weights, doing too many reps with too much weight in certain conditions, will cause damage-busting someone's balls too much and/or berating them can also be damaging.

            One thing I would maybe suggest is to buck up to some of them. (You know your situation, boundaries, and safeties though. So anything you do you take full responsibility for regardless of suggestions.) People will often push you as long as you let them. Make your boundaries and stick to them. Only way to get respect from some people is to take it.

            As far as PEX fittings melting-ask him where? That's a lie unless he or someone has raised the temperature on the heater past the normal setting. They CAN'T make the fitting if it can't tolerate the temperature. Yes, even the plastic ones. But has the dumbazz never heard of metal PEX fittings either?

            I mean, just look at that BS he put together. Him complaining about coming behind you to fix your stuff? Who comes behind him and fixes that mess?

            And the person chewing you out about accidentally hitting the line is a hypocrite. Anyone acting like they haven't done something similar along the way is a liar or hasn't done it long enough to criticize anyone.

            As far as working 36 hours straight, look into labor boards in your area and report the company. Also contact the licensing board for sending out unlicensed people. Not having enough licensed people. Etc. Don't worry about repercussions or getting fired. Heck, you want to get fired!

            Either things will get better or you'll get fired. Win-Win.


            • #8
              Bob, downunder we have to insulate our Apprentices in Cotton-Wool so that they dont get scared. This bloke however is copping way too much. Dont give up mate, get even. Find another place to go and give them the middle finger salute. As much as these clowns Downunder are destroying the greatest profession ever it is still better than being a knob in a suit. DONT GIVE UP, find another employer.


              • #9
                Most construction occupations are not overly burdened by political correctness although I don't always think it's a bad thing. I worked under a number of veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and many of our customers were veterans as well as it was a bit surprising to me seeing the often racially tinged ribbing that the old buzzards would sling at each other which in my opinion was in fellowship and was not meant in an insulting or rude manner that I feel is because these men and women were people that shared great sacrifice with some seeing horrible things.

                Now and then I'd get a shot or two by the salty Journymen and I'd just sort of grin under my hard hat because no matter what, I was going to hustle and do my best, ribbing or not. I found that when the guys stopped ribbing or lecturing is when you had to worry because that meant you were beyond hope and it was just a matter of time when you'd be run off the job to be someone else's problem. Everyone of those grizzled veterans help me succeed in life and in the trade, I will never forget them or there sense of humor.

                But then I was always treated fairly by all the Journeymen who could sometimes be down right mean to those not pulling there weight on a job. But I've always been my own worst critic, would show up everyday on time (until I dated my missus), do all that was asked of me, did my work in quick step. But the company does have a reputation for having some the best fitters which I had no clue about at the time I was hired, I was plain lucky.

                I agree that suffering tends to forge character, there were no "time outs" for me as a kid. Growing up we didn't have much and we lived in a rough part of town which lit a fire in me to get out of there and do better. My own children were not as challenged since having a decent job helped keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. i don't think that suffering or hardship is a prerequisite to a successful career or life but it sure doesn't hurt.

                Its ok (although not preferable) to make mistakes. I've made and continue to make them everyday. The key is to not make the same mistakes, rather learn from each one. This means reviewing your work and constantly trying to improve each and every day week in week out until you retire, you never stop learning never stop improving...never.


                • #10
                  Had a fellow Plumber use a spare-key from the Office to break into my truck and steal my tools, so I'm out of the trade. I appreciate the advice from you guys, I thought about going into another company, but I think it's better I just move on. I learned quite a bit, but I've been wanting to leave for a while, this was just the final nail in the coffin. Wish you guys well.


                  • PLUMBER RICK
                    PLUMBER RICK commented
                    Editing a comment
                    do you know for a fact how they broke in? was the truck secured in the shop? i would report this to the police and pursue the theft. Also if the tools were in a company truck, they should be responsible to replace them.


                • #11
                  If those were your personal tools then I'd report the theft. If they were company tools, since you work with a bunch of *******s there's no point in discussing it further.

                  San Diego has its share of screwed up outfits and jerk off fire protection companies, I was lucky to work with the old breed, tough as nails God fearing righteous men who knew their ***t.

                  6 months is not a long time, maybe you should take a break, go flip burgers for while, drive a truck or something until you figure out your next move.

                  You might want to consider a job in fire sprinkler systems installation, service, maintenance or inspections. There is a lot of opportunity to learn a good trade and you'd make good pay, medical, retirement and paid vacations.
                  Last edited by Mightyservant; 01-06-2018, 04:30 PM.


                  • Mightyservant
                    Mightyservant commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Go to the link and select contractors near you and give them a call. You will be provided with good quality tools all you got to do is show up on time, perform the work as directed and get your homework done.


                • #12
                  Personal tools in Company Truck. I filed a Police Report, other Plumber claims my door was likely left unlocked (It wasn't, I /always double-check/). The spare key for my truck is missing from the Office. I noticed my other Plumber has my stopwrench, cheater-wrench, and my set of crimpers with my name on them. which were located inside my truck, there is no way he should have them. I confronted him on it, swears I'm paranoid and gave them to him. I did not. I'm not so rich that I just give away my tools. Boss knows about the theft, but the company isn't going to reimburse them. An AC guy (we do both AC and Plumbing) told me this happened about a month before I started to another guy. Sorry, just pissed. There was hundreds in tools.
                  Last edited by Suff; 01-07-2018, 12:19 AM.


                  • Mightyservant
                    Mightyservant commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Theft is theft, call them on it and ask them to pay you for what there're worth used. Once your settled up get away from those ***holes. Money doesn't grow on trees and if your sticking with plumbing youll need your tools.

                    Doesn't sound like you worked for a standup company and your better off without them. Go apply at Western States Fire Protection and see where it goes. There probably will be dicks there too, but at least you'll be trained well and can work in every state with good compensation.

                • #13
                  Sorry to say it like this but a good punch right in his teeth will make him think again about touching another man's the mean time let the shop know,and file a police report on him and who ever was involved. You are a better man than me. I would of beat the pi$$ out of them


                  • #14
                    You need to find a different shop. Honestly. I've been to a lot of different shops. There are good guys, and there are bad. You wanna stay away from guys that complain a lot. Or are obviously incompetent. Other than that most anyone can teach you something. There is a lot of money and security in the trade. And old school plumbers are a dying breed. Stick with it. Get some new tools. Paint them, and if they get stolen again it's pretty easy to spot them. Also, take them home. Even if it sucks. Or, don't work at a place where you feel you have to take them home.

                    But don't let anyone scream in your face. Not the boss, not the lead man, not the customer. And if some salty one year apprentice pulls that crap, man. Dude has a lot to learn. Good way to get knocked out. I've seen it. Had a new JM lip off to a old wrestler. Kept running his mouth, eventually dude had enough and laid him smooth out on the job. Pissed all over himself. Big guy got fired, but man was it awesome.