Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How to Build an Office Building

I've been walking my dogs by a construction site and have watched with great interest as they build a suite of offices.  Here's how it's done.

The early parts seem like the hardest.  They take for fucking ever and involve digging trenches, piling up dirt, digging up more trenches, filling in the ones you already dug because they're in the wrong place, and marking them with pink-beribboned stakes.  This goes on for many months and during this period there is hardly anybody there.  Dogs enjoy this part of the process because they like to run in the trenches.  The problem starts when you remember, "oh, no!  Valley fever, construction sites, 18 inches!"  and the next time your dog gets a cough (because he ate part of your library book and unbeknownst to you, has bits of cardboard stuck in the back of his throat), you rush him to the vet and spend 300 dollars on completely unnessary tests.

Then, it get interesting, comparatively.  A bunch of rough looking guys with big bellies and no asses, start measuring stuff and eventually nailing it together with 2 by 4's and 4 by 6's, and all those other pieces of wood construction guys like to holler about to prove they learned some of their numbers in elementary school.  This is the point where they bring in the portable chainlink fences, ducts, pipes, etc.  It gets a lot noisier at this juncture and there's one guy, but only one and he's just that kind of person, who gets a little miffed when one of your dogs lifts his leg on a piece of pipe.  This is not so much to do with the pipe, but the fact that said dog has breached the fenceline thereby pointing out its inadequacy.  After this they put down cement slabs, which takes a long time and at some point calls for a jackhammer.  The guy who made the mistake in the first place either gets fired or has to do the jackhammering, which appears every bit as unpleasant as its representation in Yosemite Sam cartoons.

It's only a matter of time before the skateboarders show up.  These young ruffians give you dirty looks when you go by until you remind them that you don't really give a fuck, and by the way there's a bigger hole in the fencing just 10 yards down.  After that they mostly ignore you, but occasionally smile as they stack every piece of wood and broken block they can get hold of to build ramps, banks, and obstacles. The skateboarders have a great time, especially because the construction workers, having taken several days off and imagining their concrete safe, sound and setting up nicely, have completely forgotten the big holes they neglected to fix, along with the fact that said holes can be squeezed through by any skateboarder worth his salt no matter how many "no trespassing" signs they put up.

Now it gets interesting.  After the construction workers repair the cement and sweep up the ball bearings they've strewn about to foil the skateboarders, the walls go up.  Any reasonable person might think that "walls" have something to do with wood or brick, and they do with the former, sort of.  The boards they nail up are made of particle board composed of random sized bits of wood glued together with something.  What the "something" is, is anybodies' guess, but I have a feeling it's probably some nasty shit that in the future will give a high percentage of the unfortunate future office-dwellers, cancer and a multitude of exotic undiagnosable neurological diseases, but by then this construction company will have long dissolved, its workers dropped off at various tent cities, and anyway you haven't got a case; the stuff was perfectly legal at the time.  And if the particle board doesn't get them the next part of the construction surely will.  Because now comes the styrofoam.  Big sheets of the shit, no denser that the stuff the last coffee grinder you bought was packed in.  This part promps the friendliest of the builders to remark, "it's a good thing they don't have tornados in this part of the country."  The styrofoam is covered in chicken wire and that's plastered.  So are some of the builders at the end of the day having pounded several six packs all the while assuring themselves that at least they've got it better than the old man, and don't have mesothelioma from continually breathing asbestos back in the day.

That's as far as they've gotten at this point.  My neighbor complains bitterly about the constant sound of pounded nails.  The skateboarders are long gone.  There's a plastic plaque outside one of the structures.  It says, "Future Office of Doctor Pratt."

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