I love watching people work. I am not sure why, really, but I think it’s probably because a body at work betrays the mind’s intentions. When a person is working, the whole person is engaged. Intent seamlessly manifests itself in action, every muscle movement telegraphed by a furrowed brow, a slight nibbling of the lip or a vaporous sparkle that darts across the eye like an apparition. A person intent on completing a task doesn’t hide his intentions. Their movements and thoughts are without guile. Who knows, maybe this is where the term ‘an honest days work’ comes from.
Growing up, I’d watch the men who worked for my dad with awe. The youngest workers, still clumsy with inexperience, tried their hardest not to draw the coarse ribbing of the oldest; who, bodies hunched in submission to the repetitive stresses of the labor, griped about the pace of work. But, most of all I loved to watch the men who were in their prime. These men, who experience had made strong, had not yet succumbed to the hardness of movement characterized by the older workers. Their effortless movements were punctuated by outbursts of laughter, the barking of instructions or a quick reprimand for a wayward movement. They were the masters of the site, these men’s effort determined how quickly the work would go, how much money the boss was going to make. In fact, watching those men work influenced me to enter the construction field.
Unfortunately, the construction field has been weakened. Unscrupulous contractors cheat all of us by hiring workers illegally, requiring them to present themselves as sub-contractors and to carry their own worker’s comp. and liability insurance. Furthermore, the lower prices that they are able to work for, since they don’t have insurance or payroll tax costs, become the new pricing standards industry wide. Firms that do not operate illegally are unable to meet the new standards and are forced out of business. Over the years, I have watched many honest businesses fail because they were not willing to break the law. They have been replaced by operators who are less honest in their dealings. The entire industry and workers wages have degraded as a result. So, before you hire someone to work on your home, make certain that they operate their business in an ethical manner and help ensure a new generation of competent craftsman.