Categories > Original > Romance > Tester1 Reviews
Damn it! So, far, the hands on part of the competition is kicking my ass.
I saw him in his torn, Nike baseball cap, torn DC hoodie, welding mask, faded straight leg Levi’s, and steel toed boots. He was getting his tools ready to weld steel. He removes his Nike cap and shakes his head. His dirty blonde hair falling perfectly to the side. It’s length stopping just above his eyes.
I watch him put his welding mask atop his head, grab all his tools, and head toward his welding station behind the wall. The shop smells of oil and metals. I take a deep breath and set down my backpack on one of the lab tables.
Shepard comes out of his office with layouts. “Hey!” He greets me.
“Hey,” I breathe.
“So, here are some layouts. One for the mill and one for the lathe. This is similar to what they’ll give you at competition.” I nod and go over the layouts he gives me. They seem simple enough. “So, get to work.” He smiles. I nod and go over to my metal locker cube and take out all my tools.
Lathe work is easier for me, so I start with that first. That way I have more time for the mill. The mill has always been hard for me. There’s just so much extra crap to remember to do before one actually starts to hog off some metal.
I stay for an hour and get most of the lathe work done.
We clean up and get ready to go home. Hayden is turning off the oxyfuel as I’m washing my hands with goop to remove the oil I used from the threads on the piece.
“How far did you get on the lathe?” Shepard asks.
“I’m almost done. Just need to finish the threads and groove the smaller pieces. Then chamfer the ends, but that shouldn’t take long.” I dry my hands.
“Good.” He nods. “What about you, Hayden? How’s the stick weld coming?” I tune out and pack up. I didn’t know much about welding, so I didn’t have much to say about it. And I wasn’t competing in welding at regionals, so I just focused on machining. But I’m sure Hayden knows about machining. He’s had Shepard for all of high school, and he’s spends most of his day in the shop.
“Okay, guys. Let’s have a good weekend.” Shepard turns off the lights and we all go our separate ways.
Why can’t I get him out of my mind? His two-inch gages and septum are engraved into my thoughts. His ice, pale blue eyes. I’m in first period and am totally spacing out while we’re discussing Hamlet. I zone back in and try to focus. But it’s really hard when I can vision Hayden getting ready to weld. His skinny frame bent over his tools.
Graphic design and pottery are stress relievers and I feel better going in to the shop. I don’t spot him, but I know he’s in the back welding. I step into Shepard’s office and we discuss regionals. I walk out into the shop, and see Hayden. I smile shyly. He smirks and then heads into Shep’s office. Just then my heart is gripped by cupid’s strong hands, and butterflies are released throughout my entire body.
What is going on with me?
I just shake it off and leave to go have lunch with my friends Natalie, Jose, and my sister Desiree. Sara, my other sister, is out with her friends.
I see them all gathered by the flagpole at the front of the school. It’s cloudy out. There’s a light breeze. But Spring should be on its way soon. Hopefully.
School went by fast. It’s already time for competition. I’ve had enough practice. Hopefully it’s enough to place. That’d be awesome if I did.
It’s early in the morning and I squeeze extra necessities into my tool box. I head over to Clark College to get regionals done and over with. Competition better be fucking worth it.
When I get there the officials are getting everything set up. They have breakfast for us. But I'm not interested. I'm here to compete, not eat donuts and drink coffee. And I don't wait for Shepard to finish his before I start to wander about the shop to check out the machines. Shep said they'd be different. And, hell, they are.
The lathes don't have brakes, and have a two faced tool holder. They even have DROs! I've never seen that before. And the mills have an easy tool placer that screws the tool in so you don't have to do it manually. They even have a more advanced DRO. The grinders have a flat tool holder, and are on stands, not counters like back in the shop. And the drill press has different buttons I never knew a drill press could have. And the drill chucks are key operated so it'll be harder to tighten for me since I'm used to hand-tightened drill chuck. I sigh and try not to psyche myself out. I just study the machine carefully and make sure I have the right speeds in my head for the material we'll be machining.
I put on my safety glasses and make sure my steel toed boots are tied right so I don't have to stop and retie them.
First, we start with a written test. It's only 25 questions, and most of them are safety questions so I feel confident I'll get a good score on this one. But I get worried when I'm the first to finish the test. I go back and triple check my asnwers. They all seem to be in order, so I just turn it in and join the officials out near the laid out breakfast buffet.
I help myself to a jelly filled scone and some orange juice while I wait for the other boys to finish.
Second, is the mill. We're given our measurements and our blocks of metal. We have two hours to get as far as we can. I just meaure everything out and then pull in my tool. I grab my dial caliper, brush set, and stilts and get to work.
I'm hogging off a hundred off at a time and take one last measurement. Fuck! I swapped measurements! There's a picture of a rectangle on my layout, but I have a square in my hands! Damn it! So, far, the hands on part of the competition is kicking my ass.
The third part is the lathe. We're given our tools and time limit. But first we have to sharpen our own tools. Just one part of the lathe test to make sure you know how to grind yourself a good tool. I take longer than the other guys to get my tool to my satisfaction, so by the time I get to the lathes they've already started bluing and cutting. I cram and blue my stock. I make the cut marks, but I can't get my tool holder in right. I've never seen a two faced tool holder before. So, I ask one of the officials watching us for help.
He sets in my tool and explains to me how this machine works. But I internally roll my eyes. 'I know how it works! I just needed you to put in my tool!' I think to myself. Him talking is just eating up my time!
I try to get rid of him, but he stays to watch me make my first cut. Then leaves. I sag in relief and try to get as much done in one hour as possible. Which turns out to be not very much.
The last part is the drill press. We are handed a flat drill and we have to sharpen it. And as I'm sharpening it I catch my knuckle on the wheel and there goes a chunk of my skin. I inspect it to see if I can just continue, but bloods gushing out and it's too big a wound to ignore. It can get infected or I can get something inside it. I rush to the bathroom and rise the blood. I find an official and ask for a bandage. He shows me where the First-Aid kit is and gives me an antibacterial wipe. I clean and bandage myself and then get back to work.
We're handed another piece of metal to layout our drill press exercise. We blue it and I'm the only one to ask for a punch to make sure the centers of my future holes are as accurate as possible.
I put in my piece and my drill. I head to work, but my drill gets stuck while I'm drilling. Shit! I am forced to stop operating to pull out my drill and put it back in. And it continues like this until I'm done drilling all ten holes.
But I look at the layout and I have to champfer the sides. One at a 45 degree angle and the other rounded. I sigh and clamp down my piece and grab my file. I'm working on the rounded angle when they call time and we're all forced to stop.
All three of us!
Yes, there are only three contestants. Seems like we're all going to state.
We turn in all our parts and sit and have lunch while the officials tally our scores.
We all discuss each part, but I don't say much. I just want to get out of here. I'm the only female in the shop and my back hurts from seven hours of competition.
The time has come and the results are in. We all cram into the room where we took the written test and here the places. I take second. Shepard smiles. I just return the smile half-heartedly. "And now, our contestants will be rewarded with all of these tools that were donated by several industries looking for kids just like you." Says one of the officials and we turn to see bright yellow bags with many tools and trinkets to stuff them with. "You each have hundreds of dollars worth of items in front of you. I hope you come back next year."
I see dial calipers and scribes. There are just so many tools. I smile and pack my own yellow back. We were also given our pieces to keep as special memories, I guess. "Oh, dude! Look at all this stuff!" Shepard comes over and inspects my new set of machining tools. "This is so cool!" He beams. I just smile and pack up to leave.
As Shepard helps me to my car, a judge comes out and gets into his car. He pulls up next to us and asks me, "Are you gonna go to state?"
"I don't know yet." I shrug.
"Well, I sure hope you do. We need more girls in there. To shut those boys up." He smiles gingerly at me.
"I'll think about it. It's quite a bit of money." I say.
"It is, but it's worth it. This chance doesn't come by everyday." He says. "Well, I'll let you guys go. Nice seeing you again, Chris." He smiles again. His white mustache turning up into a smile as well.
"Nice seeing you too, Ray." Shepard nods and the car roars away. "That guy and his car." Shepard shakes his head. "He's put in so much money into that car, it's insane." I just laugh. "But he loves that car."
"Well, it's nice." I comment.
"Yeah." I put my yellow bag full of goodies in my car. "Well, I hope you had fun competing." Shepard smiles. I look up at him and nod. "We'll discuss state on Monday. Have a good weekend, kiddo."
"You too, Shep." I smile and get into my car. I wave as I drive away to my house so I can take a hot shower and a long nap.