Tales From the Work Van

Ep 3: The Legend of Crack Nicholson

This red Rigid wrench has been with me for the past 5 years. Other tools have come and gone but this pipe wrench has hung in there and stuck with me. This wrench was a present, a parting gift bestowed upon me from the man I knew as Crack Nicholson.

In 2013 I was working on a new housing project and heard the crew and I were getting a new addition. Following behind the foreman that day was a man who bore an insane resemblance to Jack Nicholson….if Jack Nicholson suffered from severe drug addiction. We soon dubbed him Crack Nicholson. Crack was a hoot, he was probably 50, looked 70, and went a full 100% all day. He had bulging eyes and a raspy whisper voice he’d speak with while he scurried over to talk to you. He was one of those guys that had one wild story after another. You’ll have to find me around town if you want to hear some of Crack’s better tales but I will tell you about one of my favourite interactions I had with him.

I’m roughing in on the second floor of this one building while Crack’s down on the main. My phone goes off with a text from my foreman.

Foreman: “Go tell Crack Nicholson to put a shirt on and tell him this isn’t f@*$%ing B.C”

(SIDENOTE: According to my foreman, B.C. OH&S has apparently deemed shirts optional while working)

After reading that text I just thought, “Ugh! What is going on down there and why do I have to deal with it.” I make my way downstairs to find a sweaty Crack Nicholson feverishly running around missing glue joints and back grading pipes. His skin was that shade of tan you see on some guys that you just know is the colour of skin cancer. Like someone left an old baseball glove in the sun…..and the baseball glove suffered from a severe drug addiction. But nevertheless I was able to get Nicholson re-shirted.

Fast forward to Crack Nicholson’s demise. I don’t think he lasted longer than a month. Word going around was Crack was sneaking off on site to get a few drinks in. (Should we expect anything different from a Jack Nicholson look-a-like?) He was abruptly booted off site one day with little notice to get his belongings together. Luckily he was already wearing a shirt. But in his trail of angel dust he left behind this red twelve inch pipe wrench. I snagged it as a parting momento. This wrench has the magic touch, no need to tightened a second time as this wrench is getting the job done the first time out. Some say Crack’s sole is in this wrench, others say he stole it from the last crew he worked with. Either way, the day this wrench kicks the bucket will be a dark day indeed.

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