Constructive Construction

There is a lot of construction going on outside our window. Bobcats are maneuvering around cranes and cement mixers are dancing around excavators. If I was a seven-year-old boy, I would be ecstatic. But I am not; so I am not.

Access to our street is often impeded, our parking spots are blocked, construction noise starts up early in the morning and continues through the day. The lovely expanse of green that we used to see is gone, replaced by a huge hole soon to become a large building.

Yet, while I am not rejoicing in the change, I am impressed by it. The scene before my eyes is inspiring. Men (and yes, they are all men) show up day after day, work hard and accomplish. They work in the heat and in the rain. The operative word is “work.” At the end of the day, the work site looks different from how it looked in the morning.

My husband is fascinated by machinery. One year, as an anniversary gift, I booked a session for the two of us at a heavy-machine construction center. The enterprising owner who trained and certified machine operators, recognized that in the off-hours the machines could be a source of fun. When we arrived, we were each assigned an excavator and given some basic instruction. After that, we independently maneuvered around a course, manipulating levers, picking up basketballs and trying to deposit as many of them as possible on piles of old tires. It was a great date for those of us with strong competitive natures.

It is striking that when I pass a government construction site such as road work conducted by a state’s transportation department, I see a different picture than the one outside my window. First of all, there are many more people doing much less work. Most of the time, I see a lot of individuals standing around while only a few are actively engaged. The government group is usually co-ed and looks to me as if gender and race are two of the primary qualifications that matter. Not so, for the hard-working group outside my window.

As much fun as our excavator experience was (and, incidentally, I was extremely good at it), I did not see it as a future career. I imagine that a woman who did, would indeed face barriers, both social and practical. That is the real world. When you want to do something very different from that which most people in your circle want to do, you have to work harder. When we insist that all people, no matter their sex, culture, intellectual curiosity, physical prowess, or any other defining feature, must desire to do the same things, we end up with expensive and incompetent results.

I was sorry to see the building project start and I expect the final product to somewhat reduce the quality of life for my husband, me, and our neighbors. Nonetheless, the flurry of activity and the proficiency of the workers I see, have become a source of daily optimism for me.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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