Tag Archives: jackhammer

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?

My brain feels like a bunch of cool power tools

Nothing. I can’t think of anything. My brain can’t even get started. Imagine trying to use a chainsaw. You know how you have to pull the string on a chainsaw, and each time you pull it, it’ll make that noise, like, OK, maybe it’s going to start, maybe the whole thing will rev into action, but it doesn’t, it dies right back down, so you try again, and again, and you realize that, maybe it’s not about how hard you’re pulling, maybe it’s more about how fast you’re pulling it. It has to be hard and fast, just the right amount of both. My brain feels just like that chainsaw, but with the handle cut off the rope, so you can’t get a grip. Actually, it feels like there is no rope. And there’s no chain either. And also, it’s totally out of gas.

I’ve never actually used a chainsaw. But it’s one of those things I’ve seen on TV a hundred thousand times. I’m so familiar with the image that I’m almost positive I could pick up a chainsaw and use it and it would be exactly how I imagine it to be, no surprises, nothing separating real life from the scenery I’ve cooked up in my mind.

It’s the same with jackhammers. Every time I pass a bunch of guys doing some construction work I’m always more than a little bit tempted to approach them and be like, “Guys, come on, please, let me use the jackhammer. Come on.” And, if I were working construction, I’d be thrilled. I’d be like, “You got it boss,” and then I’d sit back and take a break. I think that chain sawing, jackhammering, these have got to be like universal humanisms. (Is that a word?) Like I think that anybody could do it.

If I could design my own jackhammer, I’d add some pegs at the bottom for me to put my feet on, both of them, so I’d be standing on the jackhammer as it went to work. Picture a pogo stick going out on a date with a jackhammer, having a few too many drinks, taking things way too fast and having a baby. I’m pretty sure that, given the right environment, like a happy home and a balanced diet, that baby would grow up into the appliance that I’m thinking about in my head. I’d call it either a jackstick or a pogohammer. Not too original, I obviously just switched around the first and last parts of each item, but it’s not about the name here, it’s about the tool, and how cool it would be, how much more fun it would be to operate than your traditional jackhammer.

And I don’t want to get stuck on this here, but we’d see a surge in construction activity, because so many more people would want to use this awesome new tool. More construction workers, more construction projects, a more vibrant economy, more people enjoying what they do for a living. I think that Western society as a whole would be much better off, much more satisfied. And what if you make the bottom part detachable, so when you’re at work it’s a chisel, for breaking rocks and cement, but then at the end of the day can replace it with something soft, something bouncy, and so it would keep the pogo aspect of the hybrid alive also. These construction guys could own their own pogohammers, they’d ride them to work, use them at work, and them pogo home. Fun, environmentally friendly, a whole range of possibilities here.

And so I’m thinking, what other sorts of appliances or power tools can we maybe merge with other more common items? I started with a chainsaw. What if, instead of a chain, for cutting, you could swap in like a comb, for brushing? A combsaw. And this way you could brush your hair in a fraction of the time. Although, we might have to figure out something about the gas engine. I can’t imagine people wanting to breathe in all of that exhaust, like in their bathrooms or bedrooms.

No, let’s go back to the jackhammers. Maybe we could put a wheel on the bottom. And so it would be like one third jackhammer, or not one third … hold on … it would be one half jackhammer, then one quarter pogo stick and one quarter Segway. Do you need a license to operate a jackhammer? I hope not. Although it probably depends on local laws, permits, regulations. Could we change that? Does anybody know anybody on the City Council? What do you think the chances are that we could fix it, make it easier for your average everyman to own and operate a pogohamway?