Previously: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Jason Ziegler and Brandin Bednar are flown from New Orleans to Washington, where their status as evacuees helps them land jobs at a local construction company. To catch up on earlier episodes go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.
Jason Ziegler's stint in the concrete business crumbled on a Monday morning. He got to the construction site pretty much on time, he says, not more than one or two minutes late. But the foreman was already putting away the time cards, which are laid out at the start of the shift for the workers to clock in.
"Hey, boss," Jason recalls saying. "Don't put away the time cards. I'm here."
"I don't need you today," Jason heard the foreman say. "Why don't you go home."
Jason, 26, had a history of showing up to work late, if at all. A couple of times, after raging nights on the town, he massively overslept. Once he stayed home with Brandin Bednar, his 20-year-old roommate and co-worker, waiting for a furniture delivery that never came. Most recently, Jason says, he missed three days of work because he was, in fact, dog-sick.
All of this seemed to put Jason in poor standing with his boss at Miller & Long, the local concrete and construction giant. Not long ago Jason recalls putting down his tools for a lunch break. The boss, he says, quickly yelled at him. It was only 11:14 a.m. Lunch starts at quarter past.
Jason's appearances in this weekly magazine feature didn't help, either. When he was first hired, he'd found humor in his new, fancy-sounding job title: assistant engineer. The day after publication, Jason says, his boss was fuming. "What?" he demanded. "You think working for this company is a joke?"
Now he'd been told to go home for the day. He says he didn't argue. It was clear that his career in concrete was kaput. He just left, not bothering to take the tools that had been a gift from the company.
When Jason got home, he found Brandin still asleep. Brandin didn't call the company to say he wouldn't be coming in, and no one from the company called him.
"We fired them," says Myles Gladstone, a vice president for Miller & Long. "They stopped showing up. This was a real disappointment. We really did a lot for them. They're young, I realize that, but it would have been nice to hear from them, to hear them say thank you."
Brandin had new plans. He'd spoken to a friend in Seattle who is planning to drive to Mexico soon. That sounded good to Brandin, who has agreed to tag along.
With winter approaching, Brandin has grown increasingly ambivalent about living in Washington. "I need to be someplace warm," he explains. But he can't really leave the District until his birth certificate arrives in the mail. A few weeks ago his wallet was stolen, and, without an ID, he can't fly to Seattle.
Jason plans to stick around Washington. He's made a few friends, including one who wants to start a band. "Maybe I'll be a rock star," he says. In the meantime, he thinks that finding work in the District won't be hard. "There's always a need for manual labor," he says. "All these senators need someone to do their work for them."
-- Tyler Currie