Ran into a construction 🔨 superintendent on one of the jobs.
There were a few younger, Hispanic guys doing everything wrong as they tried to protect themselves from a fall that would maim or kill them.
"Listen, boys," I said. "You're young and you think you're strong and it won't happen, but your life will end."
They understood enough to know what I was talking about. As I lectured them they hustled to put the right protection in place, and as I was walking away with the superintendent we began talking about our first jobs.
"I was 17," I said. "I was 30 stories up on a 47-story hotel and there wasn't any protection there. My foreman tossed me a body belt and said 'Use it if you're scared, you p$&sy.'"
My buddy laughed. He told a similar story about being in bad spots.
"I worked hard," I said. "My Dad was the BIG boss. He was running the whole job, and he wanted me to really see what hard work felt like. I was the lead guy on the concrete hose for all the concrete pours on 47 floors. Every day we poured concrete from 6 a.m. To about 2 p.m."
The superintendent was impressed. He hadn't known that.
Suddenly, I laughed as a mental image took over.
"What?" He asked.
"I used to be starving!" I said. "There are never breaks when the concrete is flowing and we always had trucks backed up, so, we never ate. I was bitching about it one night on the way home, and Dad didn't say much. He was saying, 'Yeah, tough shit, that's life.'"
"That IS how it goes," The super said.
"Anyway, next day, we're in about our 5th hour of the pour and I hear, "Cliff!"
"I turn around and Dad, the guy who actually was the lead boss of about seven hundred people was standing behind a column with a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil."
The superintendent laughed.
"'Get over here!' Dad said.
"'I can't,' I told Dad. 'There are 25 other guys here who aren't eating!'"
"'I don't give a shit about them!' Dad said. 'You're my son, eat.'"
My buddy laughed at the memory.
"That's a good Dad," he said.
"I remember the sandwich," I said. "Eggs with Italian Sausage and hot peppers. It might've been the best sandwich I ever ate."
And we kept talking about the old days and how hard we had each worked as we became men.
"And now we're the bosses," the super said.
"And it's up to us to teach."
"You were lucky," he said. "Your Dad was a good teacher."
"The best," I said. "He gave me two educations. He'd be happy that I'm still out here."
And that's the one thing that hasn't changed in 35 years.
I absolutely love wearing a hard hat and being out there on the sites, peeing in a box, waiting for the coffee truck and working hard.
"Work harder than everyone else," Dad used to say. "Do more than what they expect."
I don't see a lot of that attitude in the new crew coming up, but things get built now.
"It just takes us a lot longer now," the super said.
The good old days!
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