Monday, 19 March 2012

Watching Men at Work

Sitting in the car outside a petrol station, waiting for a call before picking up my neighbour from the airport, I had nothing better to look at than the men renewing an area of concrete. I watched for forty minutes. This is what I learned.

Division of Labour – Two men making concrete
You make the concrete and pour it onto the frame. Until such time as the foreman arrives to see how we’re doing I won’t interfere. My job is to make a smooth, even surface. That is my job. In between loads of concrete I’ll stand and stare at the girl in the car.

Doing the deal – Industrial Painter and Foreman
I want the work you’re offering so I’ll nod my head a lot and agree with you unless I think I can wangle more money out of you somehow. When that case arises I’ll look serious, shake my head, point at things and write on my clipboard.

Measuring Up - Industrial Painter and Foreman
I want to look professional so we will measure the area you want me to paint once the old, rotund hombres have finished their concreting. I would not want you to think that I am just picking numbers out of the ether. In the act of measuring I will tread on the as yet unset concrete and wrap my tape measure around the men’s implements whilst you dither around deciding where best to stand with one end of the measuring tape.

Managing the Project – Foreman
I’ll walk around talking into my mobile. I will talk to one of the concrete men, listening with the air of one who knows the answer anyway but wants to be seen to be consulting the staff. I will even help with the measuring up. I am proof that using a mobile phone on a garage forecourt will not result in an explosion.

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