Apprentice: Indentured trainee tradesman. The stonemasonry apprenticeship was once 15 years, it is now reduced to 3. Generally doubles [as] a tea boy, errand runner, doer of the dirtiest jobs, victim of warped practical jokes and experimental humour; slave.
- A Stone Mason's Dictionary (www.finestoneminiatures.com/dictionary_a.htm)
An apprentice's honeymoon period - if you are lucky enough to have one - can last anywhere between one hour and one week. This is a period in which you are given special dispensation for your stupidity, clumsiness and complete lack of initiative. You are taken under the mason's wing and cared for like you were their own son or daughter. Mistakes either go unpunished or are tactfully and politely corrected away from the earshot of the other masons. You could be forgiven for thinking that you're (a) actually good at this and (b) the mason you're serving under actually likes you. Make no mistake: every exchange that takes place during an apprentice's honeymoon period is a lie. You are almost certainly doing everything wrong. The mason is just sizing you up while sharpening every joke, every retort and every put-down he will deliver at your expense when the honeymoon period is over. The only thing you can truly know about this period is when it begins and - much more importantly - when it comes to an end. And end it will. Because the seasoned mason has worked through too many winters to see these opportunities go to waste. They have earned their right to abuse you and abuse you they will.