Sweat of Your Brow

More than scratching the surface

There was a hole in the middle of my driveway big enough to swallow a good-sized electric golf cart this week. The city came out and busted up the surface to get at a water leak in a feeder line. I went out to talk to them just to make sure they weren’t going down to look for Chilean miners. I had no idea the services were buried so deep.

It’s everyday stuff, of course, to the people who have to do such things everyday. Coddled and sheltered homeowners, though, tend to freak out at the sight of  their aggregate being pummeled. You get a lot of inside information about the nature of land development and property maintenance from guys (and gals) on such a crew. They may praise the thoroughness of the original concrete job in your driveway while they’re smashing it into removable chunks. They may also condemn the number of large boulders that the developer used in the fill….because big, heavy rocks and delicate water pipes aren’t always compatible. So you stand there and shoot the breeze. And, frankly, you learn a lot. If there’s any artistry to be seen in the operation of a backhoe you may witness that too.

One of the things that always strikes me, though, is that these workers…every one of them…if they stick around long enough and work for the municipality…are probably going to wind up with a better pension than a schmuck like me could ever imagine. Sure the work is often dirty and wet and cold and uncomfortable,  but there’s a certain camaraderie that comes from being part of such a crew. The last time I experienced the fraternal bonds of deliberate sweat and toil..and the feeling that I was probably healthier for doing an honest day’s work…I was hauling cement in a wheelbarrow for a swimming pool construction company. I did that for a couple of summers..and I don’t think I felt better in my life.

‘Course I was about 35 years younger then. I’ve spent most of my working life filling time on television. Whether it’s an excavation site or a production commitment…everybody, in their own way, is trying to top things up the best way they can.


2 Responses to “Sweat of Your Brow”

  1. You should see what’s going on in the West End these days. A four month long project to blast the seawall to smithereens and then rebuild it….at night no less. The noise bylaws have been temporarily suspended…like for 4 months…and we are now subjected to an all night barrage of lights, back up beeps, midnight chainsaws, loud yelling, and the smashing and crunching noises that come with excavating tons of rock and fill. It’s hell. I’d love a week of your forgettable island vacation. Cheers~

    • Robert, I can sympathize. It’s a noisy city…although once they have it thoroughly populated by cyclists and chickens it should be a different type of din. How about all those people in the waterfront condos who had to endure months worth of pile driving while they built the new convention centre? I think the fillings in my teeth would have fallen out!

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