Throwback Thursday: The Best of Days

So Orwell wasn't so good with dates.

This being 1986 and Big Brother is nowhere to be found.

We're getting a little closer, what with 24 hour surveillance, having your cell phone track your location in real time and the simplification of language, LOL, but in 1986, there was virtually none of that.

Although, if I do remember anything, it's the size of the cell phone, that big Motorola hand job that weighed a good 73 pounds, used by one of the project engineers on this construction site. It would be the closest I'd get to cellular technology until 1995 when I got my first and only pager.

Now this day, this day was as fine as days get.

I always felt sorry for the other children. When they had to go to work with their parents, they had to sit in offices. They were handed printer paper and crayons and told to be quiet.

But when I got to go to work with my mom, I got to drive a fucking tractor.

I didn't say ride in a tractor, I said drive.

On a construction site.

(For the record, this was the site of the Concord Airport Plaza, Phase 2, which looked almost identical to Phase 1, except that the interior had to be designed differently because it was to house the credit division of Wells Fargo, and if you remember anything about corporate computers at that time, they needed a lot of space and a lot of air conditioning. In perspective, your cell phone now has more computing power than this entire building was designed to house. Google it.)

Littered with I-Beams and broken pieces of wood, and nails of every shape and size. There were pneumatic tools and porta-potties and unlimited cokes from the vending machines. The vehicles were American built and the men were made up of equal parts dirt and sweat and beer and calluses.

I love this picture cause you can see prissy little me at ten years old with my socks pulled up to my knees and my velcro shoes and my collared shirt sitting next to my mom in jeans and a T-Shirt and flip flops.

Flip-flops at a construction site.

She wasn't a rube, she just took not giving a shit to a whole 'nother level.

Sorry if your mom was boring and couldn't teach you how to drive a Bobcat, them's the breaks I guess.

Speaking of "breaks" the reason I grabbed this picture is because I've been thinking about the likelihood of inevitability.

Like, was it inevitable that I ended up chasing art instead of construction?

I absolutely adore building things and I hate bars for the most part, so how come that little boy there, who was so proud, that for twenty five years he could point out a building and tell people that his mom built that, how come he is now, at 37, plugging songs at open mic nights at the local dives and not sitting at a drafting table imagining entire cities?

The full tale would be silly, but there was a pivotal moment:

Among the classes I took my first semester in college was an elective called "Introduction to Engineering"

I wanted to be an engineer, but I didn't know exactly what kind, except that I knew to shy away from chemical engineering. Chemistry was not my cup of tea, but Physics sang lullabies to my soul.

So I got the text book as soon as the bookstore was open and plowed through it, intent on becoming top of the class before the class even began.

By the end of that weekend, I was pretty dismayed by how remedial it was. It was like the "Dick and Jane" book of engineering. "See Spot calculate angles. Triangulate, Spot, Triangulate."

I assumed, this being college and all, that the class would be more invigorating, or at least more hands on, or at least not a complete waste of my time.

And nope.

For four weeks, we got an introduction to the library and the Dewey Decimal System. Two weeks later we were being given instructions on how to write an introductory paragraph using the college format, which, I shit you not, required group work.

I can't stand group work.

At first, I had assumed I'd walked into the wrong class, happens all the time, but nope, this was introduction to engineering, I know cause I eventually asked, and each homework assignment was to read the next chapter in "Dick and Jane builds a kiddie pool"

Had there been just something. Anything. An interesting teacher, a guest lecture, a field trip, a pretty girl, anything, and I might have suffered throughout it long enough to keep that dream alive. I so wanted to be able to point to things and say "I build that"

But nope.

I dropped the class and never considered the field again. Especially once I met the chorus girls on the theatre side of campus.

There's more to it than that, of course, but not much.

Whatever twists and turns our lives take, whoever, whatever we become, is still pretty much beyond the power of our parents and way beyond the computing power of our cell phones (so far), so remember to lighten up a bit.

I'm not saying you should let your ten year old wander through a construction site or drive a Bobcat or take a sip off your beer, but if you did,

those would be the best of days.

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