Somebody got booted off the job today. A week away from completion, and he was thrown out. His crime
? He used the bathroom
Portajohns are the rule of life for most of us construction workers. Some of that is practical: a building has to be pretty far along before the plumbing works, and well, you have to go somewhere. Even when you don't want to. But a lot of times we aren't allowed to use the plumbing there is, even when it is fully functional and sanitary.
Naturally, this causes some grousing. After all, everyone defecates and the wearing of a hard hat doesn't make mine any better, or worse, than anyone else's. We're all the same species, and we all like to flush. This is particularly galling during winter. Portajohns are normally filled with a mixture of pine oil and water to supress odors. The solution freezes, leading everything to pile up on top. Your skin can stick to the seat. And they do smell under the best of conditions. I have a co-worker who claims never to have used one, saying he holds it until he get get to a gas station or home. Me, I can't clench that long.
However, my years on the job have taught me that keeping people like me out isn't necessarily stupid. For one thing, I get dirty. Try drilling through concrete and see how clean you stay. Or crawl on top of dusty duct. My hands are often filthy, and can take a week to get truly clean by white collar standards. Letting me in will keep the janitor busy.
But the real isssue is behavior. Most construction workers, at least the skilled tradesman, aren't dumb and don't have terrible social skills. But construction is an industry where people are judged primarily by what they get done. It's open to people of shall we say, a checkered past. Ex-cons abound, and I had a co-worker arrested for a parole violation in the next room. This openness is a good thing generally because it allows people who may come from a colorful background to make a living wage, which gives a man a good reason to turn his life around.
But some people just weren't raised right. I have seen graffitti sufficiently racist to make Joseph Goebbels proud. Today, Mexican immigrants seem to be the target of choice. The Beavis & Butthead mentality also exists. One of my favorite quotes came when people started trading claims about which relation of their other they got their crabs from.
But the worst part is the hygiene. Some of these people never learned to aim. Even when they're sitting down. I've seen . . . . well, never mind what I've seen.
Its on days like those that I really wish I'd become a dentist.