Lightning and The Jet Hilton

This column originally appeared in the Shed Builder Magazine December 2018/January 2019 issue.

                Over the last few years Better Barns has undergone several changes in strategy. As a small shed manufacturer, sometimes the market demands we find creative solutions and stretch ourselves from our comfort zone. This has been especially true during the last couple years. We have begun constructing large shop buildings and other weld-up units as a main product line. Our tagline is “Storage Solutions since 2002”, so we still consider barns, shops, and garages as part of our offering. This next story involves the construction of a 50×140 barn/shop, so not actually a shed story, but I thought it would perhaps be interesting to some of you.

Getting started! This was a daunting task for a guy accustomed to building 8×16 sheds…

                During the summer of 2018 we landed a job to build a 50x140x16 implement barn and shop for a repeat customer who we’ve done work for on multiple occasions. There were some problems with the contractor we hired to do the work, so Vance and I rounded up a crew to go straighten up the situation. This job was located about 3-1/2 hours from home, so Vance booked some rooms at the nearest motel. The nearest motel was about 20 minutes away from the job site in a little town, Jet, with one gas station which also functioned as the only source of food.

                First, a little side story about the motel. It was a regular old roadside motel run by one of our customers who used the building we built them for the town’s only other establishment – a liquor store. The lady who ran the motel/liquor store also worked at the gas station. I lovingly refer to the motel as the “Jet Hilton”. The rooms were okay, although you could feel the gritty sand in the carpet as you walked. Also, there was a dead cricket in the bathroom floor the whole first week we were there who became part of the family.

The motel and liquor store in Jet, OK.
My room I shared with Josiah for 3 weeks.

                The first day we were there, I got the feeling that I was out of my league. This structure was huge! We got to work quickly, and seemed like we made good time, but by the end of the day it didn’t look like we had done much at all. For a guy who is used to finishing a shed rather quickly it was somewhat discouraging. We worked from daylight to dark every day we could. However, there were days when the weather interfered.

In Northwest Oklahoma the sky feels huge! We could watch the storms coming for quite some time before they arrived. This is probably my favorite photo. Kyler Cottrell used my phone to snap this by the side of the road as we were on our way to the job site.

                Late one afternoon Vance and I were on the roof trying to finish the second side before dark when a storm moved in. We could see the storm moving in for a couple hours before it arrived, and we were racing to beat it. The wind was blowing like crazy! The 33’ sheets of metal were almost impossible to keep down in that driving wind and I was expecting to die any minute.

                Vance and I are very brave. At least that is the nice way to say stupid. We continued to fight the wind along with our helper Josiah. I’m quite sure at least one of us would have been badly hurt if God hadn’t hurried the lightning along. The lightning was the last straw for me. I told Vance that I would not stay on top of a metal building on the highest point for miles around with lightning.

Our ladder praising the Lord 🙂 That is Josiah climbing down off the roof.

                So, we hurriedly swept the shavings off the roof as wind gusted and lightning flashed in the much too near distance. The rain was already pouring on us and the wet metal made things a little more interesting as we quickly tried to finish the task at hand.  We climbed down soaked to the gills.

All the rain we dealt with during this job made the place a mess.

                After seeing that everything was properly put away we bade the jobsite goodbye and headed back to the Jet Hilton. I was glad to be alive that evening as I slipped into my gritty sheets for a night’s sleep after another exciting day in the life of a shed builder.

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