I work on the fifth level of a six-floor mill building. The roof is getting repaired directly above the office. When something hits the floor, I hear it in my ceiling. When the workers roll the 1,000 pound roofing rubber, it sounds like a train rolling above me. We can hear the beep beep beep of the fork lifts as they back up. We all wonder when something will crash through our ceiling.
Today, I stepped inside the first floor hallway by the elevator, finding three people waiting ahead of me for the elevator. One looked to be a case worker from Department of Youth Services of the 4th, and two construction workers. One was young, tall, and slim, sipping on the remnants of his soda from McDonald’s. The other was older, with a great moustache and a bit shorter. Both dressed in sturdy denim and thick work boots, with the younger man donning a knit cap over longer wisps of dark hair. Both have “working man hands” lined with black under the nails and rough skin. Both have dark skin…or perhaps both were grubby from hard work with roofing tiles and rubber, in a 100-year old dusty mill. When the elevator door finally slides open, they both motion for me to go in first.
I lightly ask “how is it going up there” since my office is just below where they are re-roofing. They both smile and nod. The older man sweetly apologizes and chats about how good the weather has been to work on a roof. Says they should be on the other side of the building by next week. I wish them a good day as the elevator stops on the fifth floor.
Construction workers are normally negatively stereotyped, and when they toil away on the roads, we often grumble because it interferes with our commutes. But let’s face it. They labor away for many hours a day. It’s needed work. It’s work that most of us cannot do.