Saturday, July 18, 2009

What Not to Do When It's 115

A client wanted me to raise the top of their wall to keep coyotes out of their yard so they won't eat their miniature Greyhound dogs. I thought about hiring a fence company, but construction is in the tank here and like almost everyone else, I don't have any work, so I told him I'd do it. It beats sitting at home with no work and not being able to afford ice cubes. (I told someone the other day, whenever I'm broke I pray for money and all God sends me is work...what's up with THAT?)

I've never built a fence before, but I've watched guys do it lots of times. I figured, it's not like I'm building a space lab. It took me a day to jackhammer the decorative top of the old fence off first (I still have another section of fence to do yet). That was manly.
I have a new tool now too. Christmas in July for a contractor. The jackhammer rental was 100.00 a day. A new jackhammer is 400.00. I rented one a month ago for another project...hmmmm. Buy jackhammer, charge clients for rental fee. Yep, that's how its done.

Anyway, I went to Home Depot to buy the block, mortar and concrete and found out I'd need to make about 5 trips in my pickup. Those 8x8x16 blocks and bags of mortar and concrete are dang heavy. And they don't get any lighter when you mix them with water and install it all. Mixing concrete in a big tub with a hoe and putting up block uses a different set of muscles from sheetrock. But what the heck, it all hurts at the end of the day...pain is pain.

One thing I found out the hard way that I discovered when I got home from work.... I didn't pay enough attention to when I was watching those guys lay block is "What Not to Wear". The hat covered my bald spot, but I think this is going to leave a mark. I know that high collared riassa and sub-deacon's outfit is going to be really annoying tomorrow morning.
So, yeah, we always tell people "its a dry heat". But after ten minutes you're drenched in sweat and look like someone just tossed you in the pool anyway, so it doesn't matter. I've lived here since 1966 and worked construction in it for 27 years now. You do get acclimated. For 20 of those years I drove "beater" work vehicles with no air conditioning. I bought my first new work vehicle 7 years ago with A/C. Yeah... its nice.

I remember the hottest day on record in Phoenix back in '92, it was 127 and they had to shut the airport down because the air was so "thin" at that temperature the aerodynamics of the wings wouldn't support the planes. I happened to be working in a 5,000 sq. ft. office warehouse building whose exterior walls were all glass. There was one door into the entire building and no ductwork or air in it yet. It was probably over 150 degrees inside the building. I was doing the taping and spraying texture on the sheetrock adding about 60 gallons of water into the air, so the humidity was high. I could only work for about 15 minutes at a time. I'd walk outside into the vast expanse of blazing asphalt parking lot to guzzle hot Gatorade and wring out my shirt... and it felt like I was walking into a walk-in freezer...I actually got goosebumps. Of course, it MIGHT have been that I am so spiritually advanced I experienced the fiery furnace as a dewy breeze...

...or not.

OK, its so hot (some of these are actually true):

  • the birds wear asbestos socks to sit on power lines or walk on the street.
  • you no longer associate bridges (or rivers) with water.
  • the cows here give evaporated milk.
  • hot chiles work as ice cubes.
  • you have the logo of your car branded on your belly from your seat belt.
  • the temperature drops below 95, you put on a sweater.
  • you've experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
  • the 4 seasons are: warm, hot, really hot, and hell.
  • you discover that you can get a sunburn through your windshield.
  • hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • at 7:00am getting in your car is like climbing into your oven.
  • the first gallon of water from your garden hose comes out as steam.
  • you realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
  • Chapstick melts into a puddle your glove compartment.
  • a sad Arizonan once prayed, "I wish it would rain - not so much for me, cuz I've seen it -- but for my 7-year-old."
Why live here? Its only for a couple months and in December I don't have to shovel 3 feet of sunshine off my driveway to leave for work. If I want to see snow, I'll google it, thank you.


Larry Anderson said...

I can't even imagine doing construction work in that environment. I grew up with 100-degree temps in the San Fernando Valley, have been in 120-degree temps more than a few times in the California desert, and I'm still no fun to be around when it hits triple digits. Guess that's why I live on the coast, where it never gets much above 80 and is usually 68-70 even in summer.

As I write this, there's even some fog rolling in, which is my idea of heaven. My wife doesn't agree, and says you shouldn't have to put on a coat in summer. But then I've been here long enough that I've acclimated. Sometimes you see people around here wearing a jacket with shorts and flipflops, which looks odd until you've been here about five years and start doing it yourself.

Different strokes for different folks...

Steve Robinson said...

Hi Larry, You're living my dream, brother. I always hear people in Seattle talk about how cloudy and rainy it is all the time. Bring it on.

elizabeth said...

That's intense!

Kirk said...

You should be building bridges, not fences. ;-)

Steve Robinson said...

Kirk, LOL! I tried to get Obama to come and talk to the coyotes and see if we could get them and the dogs to hold paws and sing "Bow Wow By-Yah", but it didn't work out. We're trying to get the Department of Homeland Security to give us some bail out money to subsidize the fence since we are a border state and "Coyote" is a Mexican word and "Greyhound" is an American bus company. I'll keep you posted how that goes....

Anastasia Theodoridis said...


Don't you know the "slip, slop, slap" rule? And you go by s-p!


Slop on that sunscreen!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

P.S. And how is it other people keep living our dreams? Whose dream is it, anyway?

Anonymous said...

My colleague's guide dog has booties to protect his paws when the asphalt reaches the "liquid state" here in Phoenix. It frosts me when I see people walking their dogs, greyhounds or whatever, in the summer without 'em. The dogs are high-stepping all over the place. The coyotes are smart enough to hole up during the day...

BTDT on that burn...more aloe vera!!

123 said...

But, one can always put on more clothes; only so many can be taken off in polite company. A little snow is a small price to pay.