Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Tell-Tale Lie (From 2008)

I need to be a little bit tedious here for a moment.

No, really; more than usual. It's because you have to grasp the enormity of this foolishness first. So here goes:

I've worked every kind of construction there is. Commercial construction, residential construction. I've painted the inside of a doghouse, and I've built football stadiums. Rough arts? Check. I've painted murals and wallpapered, too, so it's not just the barbarian arts I'm talking about. I've worked alongside many a homeowner, and at their direction in their occupied homes, as well as out in the field where no end user comes.

I've worked on single family homes a lot. Duplexes? Sure. Multi-family? Check. Condos? Absolutely. Big ol' apartment buildings? Of course. Call them what you like --whip out your PUD. I've already seen it.

I've cleared the land. Dug the hole. Stacked the blocks. Poured the chowder. I've stuck a spud into the steel. Welded? Name your metal. Hell, I've paved the street. Put in the sewer and the drainage.

Office buildings? Yeah. Hotels? Yeah. Getaway cabins? Sure. Mansions? Absolutely. McMansions? I guess.

Exurb, suburb, city, village, town, township, outpost. Atlantic? Pacific? Great Lakes? Pah. Done.

I've screamed into the phone and the ear and the air alike. Worked alone. Directed hundreds.

I've drawn the plans. Applied for the permits. Put in Environmental Remediation. Sat in interminable meeting for the privilege of being yelled at before being denied and approved alike.

I've worked on houses where the owners showed me where their ancestors hid during King Phillip's War. I've worked on houses that had graywater recovery and passive solar.

Railroad, Colonial, Adam, Georgian, Second Empire, Stick, Eastlake, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Queen Anne, Ranch, Prairie... this is getting tedious. If I can think of a kind of house I've had nothing to do with I'll mention it. Ummm......

People? Black, white, brown -- all the hues of the rainbow and the UN combined. Disfigured or whole, ancient or young, from every continent. Well, maybe not Antarctica. I've worked with every race, color, and creed. Gay, straight, and just plain strange. Men, women, boys, girls. Disabled people I couldn't keep up with, and able-bodied lazy people. Everybody.

I've worked for customers so imperious that they wouldn't allow us to drink from their garden hose while we were working. Outside. In August. In Massachusetts. Some people, conversely, would set a place for us at their table if we were in their house at dinnertime.

In short, I've done every single thing I can think of in construction at one time or another, by and for every sort of person-- short of scouring other galaxies for odditities -- in every sort of setting you could conjure up, and for every sort of customer you can imagine.

I've seen most all the Do It Yourself/Construction/Remodeling/Shelter kinds of shows now. I've noticed something about them. A clue. And I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, that in the hundreds of thousands of hours I've worked, and during the gazillion man-hours of other people's work I have observed, not one, single, solitary human being in the real construction world has every given any other person a "high-five" before, during, or after the job. It has literally never happened in my presence.

I don't know what you people are watching, but it ain't work.


misterarthur said...

Love this essay. Thanks for reposting it. I don't give people high fives, either.

Andy said...

You so, like, totally, get a full-on virtual high five for this.

Thud said...

Sipp...I'll high 5 the chaps when they arrive in the morning, I'll post on result when I leave casualty.

Anonymous said...

So if only 100,000 hours you worked construction that's 48 years ........ add to that the gazillion hours you observed ............ I hope you got paid for all these hours !

Dohhh! said...

I've worked construction too for forty years and I'm guessing you have never seen anybody on-site in a pink cowboy hat. Unlike in the "reality" TV shows.

SippicanCottage said...

I hope you got paid for all these hours !

That's why they call it work.

Charles said...

Another thing never seen on a job site - someone slapping someone else on the back and saying "good job!"

Anonymous said...

I think many of these shows are edited to make the home owners look weak and foolish. They'll give the home owners some kind of task to complete and end up praising them like they've just learned to walk or something.

Would love to see one of these programs come to your house, Sipp, so they can "show" you how to remodel. Now that would be a reality show!
-Deb in Madison