I need an eyeball on the top of my head, one that telescopes to allow me to look over buildings and gauge the sky.
This would have been handy in staving off a recent jobsite calamity.
Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I work in the stucco and stone application business.
Most of the tools we use look ancient, like something your great-grandpa might have used — trowels and dippers, hawk and darbies, floats and iron scaffolding.
Cementing heavy materials to walls doesn’t require advanced technology. Muscle, physics and experience rule the day.
All construction invites occasional calamity, and Hunka has experienced his share.
Most of what we do takes place outside, so storms can be particularly problematic.
Twenty-foot tall scaffolding was no match for freakish, midnight-monster winds that ripped through a performing arts auditorium jobsite several years ago.
I imagine that wind laughing maniacally (“Mwahaha!”) as it tilted hundreds of pounds of iron onto a nearby light pole.
Righting the mess required a substantial forklift, heavy chains, nervous workers, and a team of guardian angels.
The whole job was a bit cursed. A couple days later, Hunka and I were on a scissor lift inside the same building, accidentally snapped off a fire sprinkler head, and took a shot of cold, oily water to the face. We looked like sewer-rats on the drive home.
Another job featured a burning bush incident minus the soul-changing religious experience.
It happened outside the front windows of a fast food restaurant that featured large, bushy landscaping the owner wanted to keep.
It was a winter job, requiring a plastic tent and propane heat to keep freshly-applied stucco from freezing.
(Suggestion to owners: When possible, ditch shrubbery planted in the path of remodel projects. It’s impossible to protect and prompts jobsite cursing.)
“KaWHOOSH!” went Mr. Tree as it met Captain Furnace.
“Curses!” exclaimed Hunka as he doused the growing blaze with water. The tree suffered an epic demise, and restaurant diners didn’t seem to notice the 20-foot flames just yards from where they were eating.
Last summer, Hunka tested the laws of physics on another jobsite. A ladder went one way. He went another — fast and straight down.
I swear he made a cartoonish whistling sound as he fell. Slings and casts were required, but it could have been much worse.
Hunka is a terrible patient, but that’s a story for another time.
The most recent calamity happened just last week. Tasked with painting a large office building with multiple entrances and lots of foot traffic, Hunka was on the jobsite while most folks were still in pajamas.
The air that morning felt wonky, but a 15-percent chance of rain mixed with a 100-percent desire to complete the job produced a freshly painted entrance to a busy medical practice.
Tape was pulled. Plastic was removed from the door and windows. Things went south just as scaffolding was wheeled away and staff began to arrive.
“KaPOW!” announced Thunder, the first cousin of Maniacal Wind. “I’m here to wreck your day!”
Rain is an understatement. Lightning flashed, wind blew, and the skies opened to a torrential monsoon.
Wet paint cascaded down the wall, over the windows and doorway, and pooled on the concrete. It looked like a bad day at a butterscotch pudding factory.
The whole thing could have been avoided by a telescoping eye that could pop up, peer over the roof of that building, and see the gathering storm.
Hunka and I spent hours cleaning up the mess, with fairly minimal upheaval to the medical practice’s staff and patients.
Nebraskans are a kind and compassionate folk, God bless them one and all.
Thankfully our calamities have never been tragedies, and after all, bad days are a normal part of every profession.
Keep an eye on the sky my friends, and ONWARD!