Tag Archives: construction workers

Lack of sunlight and its effects on the skin

When I don’t go outside for a while, like if I don’t make an effort to get out of the house and stand in the sunlight, I get really pale. I work in a restaurant, it’s in a basement, it’s so dark inside that after a really long shift I don’t leave until the sun has gone down, which, especially in these summer months, that feels like a long time, a really long shift.

One time I had this friend, he put this whole thing of tape around his forearm. I was like, “Man, what are you doing?” he was like, “I’m just trying to see if I keep this tape on my arm for a while, like maybe it’s going to get really pale,” he’s a construction worker, always outside, he’s got that golden coat of tan, you know, like you see on the well-to-do, always golfing. But my friend’s not golfing, he’s hanging shingles or something, I don’t know, not shingles, whatever, I just made something up, but he’s outside, like installing windows or something, something outside.

I was like, “Why do you want to do that?” he’s like, “I don’t know, why not?” so I said, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Doesn’t your skin need to breathe?” and he got defensive, he shot back, “All right man, you know, maybe that’s a risk I’m willing to take, and maybe you should just stop asking so many questions.”

And so I did, I stopped asking questions. But maybe I should have asked a few more, like aren’t you worried about keeping the skin clean under there? Or, aren’t you afraid that it’s going to hurt really badly when you try to just rip that tape off? Because he did keep it on there too long and, I’m sure something happened with the pigmentation, but nobody was ever able to tell, because he got a rash, and he kept itching it, probably in his sleep, because people would ask him, “Hey dude, you should get that checked out. Are you itching it?” and again, he’d just kind of turn his body, like protecting his taped up arm, “Leave me alone, all right? I’m not itching it.”

Why would he lie about itching it? Like I said, itching it in his sleep, whatever, just a theory, but there was a definitely a rash, an aggravation, and it must have gotten infected, and there was an extended stay in the hospital. It turned out to be one of those antibiotic resistant bacteria, and we were all really scared, I thought that was it, for his arm anyway, I was like, if he’s making it out of there alive, it’s going to be with one less arm. And for what? Why did he put the tape on in the first place?

I don’t know, the doctors handled it. They got some sort of different antibiotics or something, I have no idea. But it made me think about my job, my lack of sunlight, our differences in tan, my lack of any color. One time I went to the beach and made a little design out of sunscreen on my chest. Sure enough, I went home, took a shower, and there it was. I should have maybe thought out the design a little better, it was crooked, my applying of the sunscreen was definitely inconsistent.

I kept my shirt on for a while, not that I really have any reason to take my shirt off, still, I’d look at myself in the mirror and think, why did I do that? What was the point? Maybe it was the same thing with my friend, with the tape. Maybe he was really just very bored, maybe he wanted to see a really crazy precise white stripe across his arm. Why? Why not?

Back to my job, back to the basement. I get worried that my skin is going to get so pale that I’m going to get that same resistant bacteria covering my whole body, they’re going to have to put me under a giant human-sized heat lamp, just like a tanning bed, but red and yellow instead of ultraviolet blue, they’ll be like, “Sorry Rob, even the antibiotic-resistant-resistant antibiotics couldn’t knock this thing out of your system. We’re hoping that these big lights here might cook it out of you. Yes, it’s going to be painful. All movement is going to be very unpleasant. But when it’s all said and done, we’re thinking you might walk out of here with a pretty sharp looking tan. And that’s something to look forward to, right? In this time of year, right? That’ll be pretty cool, don’t you think so?”

So much construction

There’s so much construction going on in my neighborhood. Every day it’s like I see another set of bulldozers and heavy machinery occupying two, three, four parking spots down the block, right next door, orange cones and yellow tape letting all of the neighbors know, listen up, there’s going to be a lot of work going on, so don’t even think about parking your car here.


And they start tearing down all of the old buildings, the two-story houses, which by itself sometimes takes like a month or two, I think, you know, I’m thinking about how long it takes, and I actually have no idea, I’m not really paying attention that closely. I hope there aren’t any carpenters or construction workers reading this, thinking that I’m full of shit. Even though I am mostly full of shit.

The houses go down and then it’s nonstop noise for like the next six months. It takes forever. They get these giant pounding machines, I don’t even know how to describe them other than that they’re really tall, they have these huge weights that get hoisted all the way up, and then, again, I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s like a rapid-fire pounding, like a big giant hammer hammering something into the earth. I don’t get it. What are they doing, building a foundation? Wasn’t there a foundation there before?

I can never get any sandwiches anymore. Every time I go to the deli there are like twelve guys standing around with orange vests and hardhats on. “Hey are you guys in line?” and nobody looks at me, they’re all too busy ordering sandwiches and joking around. Obviously the deli guy wants them as priority customers. That’s like fifty guaranteed lunches every day for however long it’s going to take to put up whatever it is they’re putting up. Me, I just get a sandwich every other day, maybe every three days.

And so I’m sitting here in my house and the “Pching! Pching! Pching!” of the pounding machine finally comes to an end. I’m like, OK, great, ten minutes of quiet before the hydraulics or whatever finish resting so they can start in on a new round of pounding, but this time it’s different. There’s no new pounding. I’m thinking, is this it? Can we finally get back to normal?

But then fifteen minutes later somebody started jackhammering. And I thought that the pounding was bad, but after only maybe thirty seconds of jackhammering, I’m already dreaming of the days when the only thing I had to complain about was the pounding. And it’s not really just the noise that bothers me. Although, sure, the noise of a jackhammer is really, really annoying.

It’s something else. It’s a jealousy. Every time I see or hear a jackhammer, I’m always reminded of the fact that I’ve never once used a jackhammer in my entire life, and the more time that goes by, the more unlikely it is that I’ll ever get to use one. I’ll take my dog for a walk past the construction site, there are these thin blue plywood walls around the perimeter, but I can see over them, see through the cracks, and I look at these guys with their hard hats and safety goggles, and I can always tell that whoever is using the jackhammer, it’s like he barely has a grip on what he’s doing.

I should be doing the jackhammer. I think that, and again, I don’t have any real heavy equipment experience, but come on, I’m much taller than everybody else, definitely taller than your average construction worker, and so it’s like, I’ll definitely have more leverage, like I can position my body in such a way as to really maximize the jacking while not having to sacrifice any of the hammering. Most construction guys, I see them standing straight up, holding the jackhammer parallel to their body, and I see in my mind, me, at an angle with the jackhammer, we’re both at an angle, and I’m transferring all of my energy, making a jack-triangle against the earth, maximum jack.

But none of these guys ever take me seriously. One time I walked my dog by the job when the guys were all hanging out taking a coffee break. I was like, hey guys, any way I could get a chance with the jackhammer? And it’s not like they even laughed at me. I mean like, one guy kind of laughed, but everybody else just gave me this kind of annoyed look, barely even taking their eyes off of their coffees and their cigarettes.

I saw a different group in the deli the next day. Guys? But nobody was paying attention to me, everybody just constantly shuffling along the deli aisles, excuse me, coming through, taking all of the good sodas, the best bags of chips, and could I at least order a sandwich? Maybe get a little lunch, please? Hello?