As a result of my construction job, I have more physical strength at the age of 55 than ever before in my life. At times I am frankly astonished how it keeps building. Where once I couldn’t lift a piece of scaffolding over my head, then one morning I can.
Up on the ladder, scaffolding and roof, the acrophobia comes and goes, but it seems to be slowly dissipating and what used to make me nervous, doesn’t so much anymore. It’s all Freudian anyway, right?
The various subcontractors who flow through the job, plumbers, roofers, concrete man, windows, etc, are truly fascinating characters who defy stereotyping. They are rich for some kind of literary treatment, but probably not by me. We simply need more writing about these people, in all genres. When’s the last time you read a poem or heard a song about a plumber?
I continue to learn the work jargon and have become semi-fluent. New word—screeding—as in screeding sand or concrete.
This job almost makes me want to go full Thoreau, except slightly larger than 12 by 12 in cabin size. If I ever could obtain the property I would give it a go, with some substantial oversight from my boss, who continues to be a master teacher of the construction (and gathering lobster mushrooms!) trade.
I can’t wait for the bonfire of scrap wood we’ll set off this winter. It will burn into the night atop a mountain, a signal to someone or some entity. We’ll warm the French brandy in the coals and chase it with cold crackling Hamm’s. We’ll talk to elk and tell scary stories.
Being a good construction worker means demonstrating acute awareness of everything around you so that you perform a task correctly the first time, and also so you don’t die or get injured. Teaching was never like that. I wish I’d had some construction job experience before or during my long teaching career. I could have applied these lessons to the classroom and been a much better teacher.
One of my favorite aspects of the job continues to be that I get to piss outside and eat blackberries at the same time while ospreys circle overhead.
Swearing more profanely on a physically grueling construction task always makes for better task completion.
I like working to the sounds of classic soul music better than any other genre, although old country music is a close second.