Originally Published on 3-4-16 -A Picture Is Indeed Worth A Thousand Words

You can now click on the above “LISTEN ON SPOTIFY” (WHEN AVAILABLE) to hear this in audio!

Hello everyone!

Part I: Published on 3-4-16

This photo represents my entire apprenticeship. Soak it in and I will try to get back to talking about it more in depth this weekend.

Part II: Published on 1-24-21

I had previously posted this photo and had forgotten to return and explain its representation of my apprenticeship. After 20 years of successfully getting out of my apprenticeship to become a journeywoman electrician, this photo still resonates as a theme during that time as well as my entire career. Few people work in occupations where they must wake up and prove their worth daily quite like working as a female in construction. I never felt relaxed and that I was just able to just merely show up on a jobsite. I felt like I had to perform and there was always a spotlight on my head. I say that as a fact of life and not as a complaint. In my mind, it was all a part of the job.

In the beginning of my career, I was eager to prove my worth each day. I even felt like I needed to go above the requirements just so I would not be on the jobsite’s first layoff. Over time, it becomes exhausting to maintain that high level of energy. I was even afraid to become friends with any females that were not equally hard working. I didn’t want the stains of their “laziness” to rub off on me. The guys knew that lazy, untalented women were a thorn in my side. I was often teased by my crew about putting the female on the job under my wing. In hindsight, I should have been a better trade sister for the woman that was struggling to find her way. I admit that I had caved into the pressure of putting in some distance. For many years, I felt like I was fighting to survive in longevity on the jobsite and fighting to maintain my reputation. It was hard enough to swim solo. Never mind having to help another woman swim to shore. I had no problem, however, helping a male on the job who needed help with various things on the job.

My reputation on the jobsite preceded me. Typically, the crew knew of you and any following rumors, no matter who you are, prior to you coming onto the jobsite. I had strongly desired to keep my work reputation as clean as possible. It was not possible to be totally free of any vicious rumors or gossip. I never wanted to give a perception that I was associating with multiple men in a personal manner. I did not want to get a stain on my reputation as being a woman who sleeps with her coworkers. I was a widow and I didn’t have much free time to hang out. That fact helped my reputation tremendously. I did think about, during my early years, how a good reputation was important also for my son’s sake if they chose to follow me into the business. My son Tom did indeed follow me into the business over three years ago.

I took great satisfaction in a project considered well done. I took any of the “not bad for a girl” comments with great pride. It was an honor to have a male coworker convert from having a negative perception of women to making the exception for me. I willingly became “one of the guys” on a jobsite amongst my crew. I never desired to stick out of force the men to walk on eggshells around me. I was always in favor of jokes being told on the jobsite and not holding back. I learned to have thick skin and some quite sharp retorts when I was on the receiving end of some chop breaking. I am so accustomed to the filthy exchange of jokes, I would feel weird working in a “clean” environment. I like coworkers who are direct with their issues, communicate, then move on and close the subject. A level of comfort evolved over time amongst my crew. I often became the gangbox psychologist telling my coworkers how to better approach their spouses. I have saved some marriages along the way.

When I was pushing through my apprenticeship, I was not doing for the overall good of all women. It didn’t even occur to me that I was attempting to do something few women even tried. I was accustomed to exchanging with men as a far back as boys in the school yard. I was close with my father and grew up sweeping and sorting material and hardware in a truck shop where my dad worked. I reached a level of comfort along with motivational coaching from my dad. He used to tell me that I was strong and smart; capable of doing anything I put my mind to doing. It really didn’t cross my mind that I was smashing barriers. I was just doing what I wanted to do and chasing that dream with fierce determination. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized I was on a path that was unique. I see the value of it today as a woman and work to encourage other women to go on my same path. I no longer concern myself with a fellow trade sister’s reputation having an impact on my reputation. The mindset indeed evolves with age. What doesn’t change is my mindset that I can do anything I set out to do. It is helpful to have the long work experience behind me as proof that it can be done.

What words or phrases come to mind when I see the photo? Strength. Deep determination. Perseverance. Hard work. Strong work ethic. Never giving up. Proving people wrong. Motivation.

What do you think of when you see the picture below? Let me know your thoughts on that as well as the theme of my writing. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my work. The internet is loaded with amazing content. You took the time to read my content. You are appreciated. I thank you and have a great upcoming work week!

Cheers!
Leslie M Jasper

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