(I think this is a better title than Guy Friends. Also, I decided to change my friend's name to Troy. I know you don't mind, Troy. Nothing to hide. Besides I didn't want to confuse people about my coworker who's name is Tony.)
I knew this guy once. His name is Troy. Met him at work on nightshift in my hometown nuclear power plant. We were outside smoking in a little bus stop shack. What did we talk about? I don’t remember the specifics. I believe we talked about writing stories.
I wouldn’t say we became fast friends, just acquaintances at this moment in time. What happened next is kinda foggy. Did he give me his email address? Did I respond in kind?
If you’ve ever smoked and travelled for work, there’s a certain connection. Not quite carnies or gypsies. We were called roadtechs. We travelled to many different states to perform our services for the nuke industry. Whenever there’s a refueling (maintenance) outage. We were there. Call and we would drive, fly, whatever it took to get to an outage. The pay was good. Once you become a tech you never go back. Oh sure, others have gone on to pursue their dreams. Landscaping, flower shops, whatever’s their flavor but they always come back. Even those who have retired would do an outage or two a year just to get some extra cash.
There used to be a website called “Road Whore”. We could look online for information about nuclear power plants all over. Lodging, pay, permanent job postings, practice exams for the tests that we had to take at every plant to get through training, etc. That name described probably about 70% of the techs (or more, I’m being kind). Road Whore. Me included. Would you sacrifice yourself for the abuse of “the man” so you can get a job where you wanted? What I mean is would you work a shi**y job just so you could work someplace else afterwards that you really wanted to go to? That’s not the only reference there is towards us from that term. There really are a lot of people out there that will do anything for sex. But I won’t go into that right now.
I’m going on a tangent. What do I want to say? Oh, smokers tend to just connect. If you get my drift. Maybe it’s the fact that we are out there griping about our jobs or gossiping about another tech that screwed up or pissed somebody off. It’s very clicky. Some plants worse than others.
It’s strange the different experiences you could have “on the road”. Some outages are smooth sailing. Others the plant from hell. Sometimes you could go years without seeing another tech that you worked with before. My longest period was 9 years (I really liked this person as a friend so it was really exciting to see her again). And there is always someone at the plant that you met somewhere else down the road. I have never been somewhere I didn’t at least run into one person I’ve worked with before. It’s amazing when you think about all the plants in the US. There are over 100 nuclear power plants in the US. I’ve been to about 20 different ones, majority of them more than once or twice. That’s a lot for most people in my opinion.
Most of the time roadtechs would try to work a loop. Maybe 3 or 4 plants that are very close to each other. They would work one after the other and just rotate those certain plants. Not me, I was all over the place. It wasn’t my intention. I started the business in my home town and after a year they kicked me out and told me to get experience on the road. They were actually doing me a favor because after a year I couldn’t get per diem anymore.
I could write a trilogy on all the stuff that goes on in my line of work. But I think that idea has been taken already by many others.
So time goes on and I’m working other outages. I could review my log of the places and times but that’s not important. There was a two year period where I was going from New York to California and back and forth. We drove. That was fun and yet not. If we didn’t have to rush to be somewhere it would’ve been nice, but we never had time to site see.
Well, it turned out that I was emailing this guy quite a bit. We’d share stories and the like. We even talked on the phone a couple times. Now granted I was not attracted to this guy in any other sense other than writing. And he lend an ear once in a while when I was having marital or work issues.
He was a nice guy. I knew he liked me more than I did him. To what extent I didn’t know. He was married and had kids too. I was married but didn’t have any kids yet.
He made me out to be something that I was not. He put me on a pedestal and told me in many ways that he admired me. Either in his writing, he would describe someone like me, or just in everyday conversation.
I would suck it up. I enjoyed the attention. He made me feel good. I guess I was using him a little bit to feed my ego.
I was a flirt. Tease. To many men (boys- jk) in many states. Of course this was before I met my husband. I was a player. I tried to count how many men I’ve been with. I lost count. You don’t want to know. I am ashamed. I was a slut.
But that all changed when I met my husband. I have to go back further though to explain it all (before I met my husband) ---
I was enjoying my lifestyle. I was free and I did whatever I want, whoever I want. But something was missing. One of my best friends told me she thought I was always searching for something. She was right. So even though I was fooling around, I started to watch Joyce Meyers Ministries on TV in the morning before I went to work. Something started to change in me. But it didn’t happen all at once.
I still got drunk and allowed guys to have sex with me even though I never would have given them a second look if I was sober. Except there were some guys that were too pushy and obsessed. There’s one in particular (not the one noted above. I’ll call this guy Steve. Shoot who am I kidding? The guy's name was Scott.) switched his days off to hang out with me. He was my drinking buddy. Then he started to not leave and he lingered in the doorway to my room a little too long. It got weird real quick. But I put that on myself. I know it was my reputation and the way I acted.
I was working in Ohio, in training still. We weren’t allowed in the plant until we got all our training and tests completed. We were waiting on our security background checks also. A bunch of us were sitting at a picnic bench on a beautiful summer day. Perfect weather. We were joking as we always do. Then someone pointed out a man walking about 50 feet away.
“See that guy. That’s Larry Miller. Stay away from him.” Then they went on to tell me how he’s a male chauvinist and he treated women like crap. All I could see was the back of his body as he walked away. He was built. He was muscular. He walked stiff legged because of the tightness of his muscles in his legs, thighs, and buttocks. He had long feathery blond hair. Almost like Fabio’s, but a little shorter.
We get into the plant finally and the first day I’m sitting in the HP break room Larry comes up and sits on top of the table right in front of me. He leans over putting his elbow on his knee. He’s making some sly remark about pretty HP techs or something.
“You must be Larry Miller.” I said.
He chuckled. “You heard about me? Well, that’s intriguing. What did they say?” I said they told me he was a player and to stay away. We talked for a few more minutes and then he said “so what do you think of me?”
I said “I don’t judge people from what others say. I make my own decisions.” He made a deep, throaty chuckle.
He was amazing. He knew exactly what to say to me. All he had to say was “It’s ok.” And I was hooked. He said that a lot to me.
I was the instrument tech this outage and I had to make my rounds all over the plant source checking instruments. He had a control point at the Steam Tunnel which I had to go to every night. I would troubleshoot the portal monitors (step in detectors that would check for external contamination on people) which required me to open up the back panel and work on the inside.
“Looks like you really know what you’re doing.” He whispered in my ear. Made me jump! I was confidant that I knew what to do with the instrument even though I was still only a junior HP.
He called me into his shack (the control point) and told me to sit down and relax for a while. The instruments are not going anywhere. I was nervous but curious. He sat down next to me and asked me what I was thinking about. I was actually thinking about God at that moment. So we started talking about God. He was pleasantly surprised that I brought the subject up and wasn’t afraid to talk about religion. And so the friendship begins.
And that’s all it was. Was a friendship. But everyone else thoughtwe were screwing around. It didn’t help that I had a reputation or that he did too for that matter. People like to talk and assume.
I didn’t care. Except one time. That other guy I was talking about that lingered in my doorway, Scott. My “buddy”. He was mad and he told me he didn’t want me to talk to Larry anymore. I said why? Because he overheard Larry talking to the supervisor when we first got into the plant and he was saying he wanted me at his control point working for him. But the supervisor didn’t bite. Larry kept pushing it, saying “I want her”. My buddy was implying something. It worked. I was mad at Larry. I should have known better.
Larry came into the breakroom one day and instantly felt that I was mad at him. He couldn’t take it. He didn’t hold back. He wanted to know what was wrong and why. So I told him what I heard and that I didn’t appreciate being treated this way. It became thick in the room. Other techs would come in and then immediately turn around and walk out. They knew something was going down. He swore that was not how it was and he said he couldn’t take it if I was mad at him. He told me what really happened and then he said he never wanted to see that look in my eyes again. He couldn’t bear it. I felt horrible. I believed him. But in some small way, I felt good too. He cared that much about me. Wow.
So you guys are probably wondering what ever happened to Troy. Well, I’ll get to that. I guess I just need to get all this other stuff out right now. You know my best friend once told me that she read somewhere that it’s good to wait to write about a very emotional time. Even though it’s good to write about it right at the time it’s happening you are full of emotions which can make the story one sided or heavy on the me, me, me aspect. After a good amount of time then you are able to write a more objective story. I was afraid and upset that I wouldn’t remember a lot of stuff. I’m surprising myself with all that I do remember. It’s been 11 years since I met Larry.