If you want to know more about Mister Roller, and what became of him, I’d say he’s probably still there. Just look for a beat-up, white panel truck with Florida plates and a couple of ladders strapped to a bracket on top. Look inside to see if the floor is littered with old paint cans, rollers and crumpled up empty beer cans, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway and Burger King wrappers.

If so, that’s him.

Lesson number two, don’t interrupt the boss while he’s eating. Dan King photo

The first lesson from Mister Roller came while I was painting the side of the pilot house of the newest steel ferryboat with a gaudy mustard yellow paint to match the red, green, black and white color scheme (ugh!), and the paint kept oozing and dripping down the side to the deck, and I couldn’t make it stop running. Roll it up, and down it goes; roll it up, and down it goes.

I would never have guessed that the problem was the paint was too thick. If it’s runny, it’s too thick, make it thinner! If it’s thinner, it will start to dry before it has a chance to run. How’s that for counter-intuitive? That’s lesson one.

Second, don’t interrupt the man while he’s eating. After all, he lets you have a brief period for lunch, and doesn’t intrude on your yummy peace and solitude or harass you while you are eating. If, while you are interrupting his lunch, he should bite his tongue or choke on a lump of cheesecake, he may spend the afternoon nursing his tongue or tummy and arranging for you to share his pain and discomfort. That’s lesson two.

Third, don’t bother the man while he’s working. Especially if he’s using a nail gun or band saw, lest your silly question distract him, and he nails his thumb to the wall, or separates several fingers from his hand. While it might be fun for him to sneak up behind you very quietly when you are painting and suddenly shout out “Fire! “Run for the Hills!” and watch to see what got painted next, he probably won’t do that. Show him the same courtesy. Don’t bother the man while he’s working. That’s lesson three.

Fourth lesson is that The Man hates surprises, and whether they are good or bad news doesn’t matter. Simple. the man is the man because he is in control of the whole shooting match. A surprise amounts to his learning there was something he didn’t know anything about, and if he didn’t know about it and therefore couldn’t have controlled it, this is direct evidence that he was not in control and therefore not the chief, which he thought he was. This makes him very unhappy. Don’t tell him the paint is gone late in the day when the paint store is closed. He knew it would run out, just don’t surprise him. That’s lesson four.

Fifth, finish on time, neither early nor late and make the man’s job easier. If you finish your work 20 minutes before quitting time, you compel him to think up something useful for you to do that can be done in 20 minutes, and he may not be up to it. Don’t make him choose between having to figure out how to dock your pay if you do nothing for 20 minutes, and paying you overtime to finish something silly that turns out to take longer than the 20 minutes he thought it would. Either choice will upset him. Finish on time, neither early nor late. That’s five.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at ofrink@gmail.com.

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