14 Things I Learned As A Construction Worker In Alabama

15. if you are not built for hard physical work, you better get out and find another (less physical) job...otherwise you will end up physically disabled even before you reach 35.
16. Most of physical workers smoke and drink alcohol (some do both) and some even use street drug. if you stay int hat line of work, sooner or later you will drink/smoke/use drugs, too.
 

messaggera

Kingfisher
Woman
I enjoyed the comradery with salt-of-the-earth men where I did not have to speak with a filter in case I offended a female coworker who would then rat me out to Human Resources

Our town-city always has some type of construction going on all over public places and on campuses.

As odd as it seems, given stereotypes,I never once encountered a rude or disrespectful construction worker as a female. If anything they have been curtesy compared to college educated co workers I have heard talk to women.

At least once every individual should experience at least one manual labor job in his or her life time. It builds character and appreciation for a work ethic. The drone tasks can be the best for thinking about life too.

Thanks for sharing this experience Roosh.
 
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This is really accurate, astute and definitely reflects my experiences in construction too. You're right about blue collar workers simplifying things to get to down to the essence of a matter, which is usually the only part that actually matters. I'd add that with some organizations it isn't okay for workers to make mistakes and you will end up getting chewed out, thrown under the bus, bullied or let go from the job. In the management ranks it is a dick measuring contest to see who is the best, who doesn't fuck anything up and who can get things done quickly and cheap. Which is good in some ways but can also turn toxic pretty easily

Oh I would also add, about catcalling, I've worked on construction projects in a major city where women seemed to invite conversation with the workers, enjoying a short banter or looking down into the trench to see what they're doing. Half the time the guys are minding their own business, and sometimes yes they did say inappropriate things to unsuspecting women. But it was interesting to observe the female interest in the workers
 
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DenizenJane

Woodpecker
I was on course for a relatively professional albeit mediocre job/career, and one day I decided to U-turn into blue collar/industry. work.

I'm still at it. Yes its tough, demanding, dangerous.


It still takes time to jive with the personalities that come with this line of work. In time, I feel I'll have no choice but to adopt more and more redneck/hillbilly culture for the sake of my own survival.

After you slog through the slow, terrifying, and frankly humiliating learning curves, eventually it almost feels like you are "rewilding" yourself back into historical America.

Eventually I learned how to drive the clutch, the lift- all kinds of stuff. Someone who can withstand this work while also being a good writer could make fantastic memoirs over these types of jobs later in life.

Hauling random heavy crap out in an afternoon rain... whining engines, rotors, overheads, saws, and alarms...
 
After you slog through the slow, terrifying, and frankly humiliating learning curves, eventually it almost feels like you are "rewilding" yourself back into historical America.
Sometimes it can also feel like you are fighting in a war, which can strangely be somewhat invigorating
 

Zagor

Woodpecker
During college I worked as a manual labored loading and unloading delivery trucks. Lifting all kind of sh*t up from the floor, putting it down on the floor, all day long. Boxes of various weight and size, AC units, refrigerators, farming equipment, pipes and tubes.. you name it, I've lifted it.
It developed my physique immensely, in a way you don't get from going to the gym.
 
Eric Hoffer is a great example of a guy who did physical work (worked as a longshoreman, among many other things) and still produced high-level intellectual content. "My writing is done in railroad yards while waiting for a freight, in the fields while waiting for a truck, and at noon after lunch. Towns are too distracting. "

He's the one who came up with:

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
 
That's not a reliable way to judge contractors, most of the good ones have multiple jobs going on at the same time.
Usually material is delivered by supply houses, and without exception, are out of critical things such as nails, screws, glue, tools ect..
The guys would call or text what they needed, my supervisor or myself would round up whatever was missing wherever we could find it and deliver to job site.
I've hady experience with alcoholic and or drug addicted employees. They always cost you more money than not.
I quit highschool and joined the trades, I run a $2+ million
Dollar year HVAC contracting business where I'm pocketing 250-350g+ everyyear. I hate paperwork so have to hire people to work in the office too! I could have retired years ago but enjoy the game too much!
i too enjoy being around the field personnel much more than the pencil pushers in the office, whom I also find to be overly sensitive to my direct
personality.
its a cutthroat business,
The building industry is not for everyone.
 

Oogddyi

Chicken
Several years of working in construction, everything from manual demolition to finish carpentry. A few comments regarding some points in your post:

Body: I've found that you can keep your body healthy if you maintain a correct posture at all times and in all positions. Guys that get injured or retire early because of body wear are consistently those who lift incorrectly, don't keep their backs straight and their behinds... behind. With correct posture, you won't be that tired either. I recommend looking into the work of Esther Gokhale on posture.

Repetitive tasks: two solutions. Either do them with complete mindfulness and concentration (will keep your mind tranquil and you'll develop a very useful meta-skill), or put on headphones and listen to audiobooks.

Men and nature of manual trades: it's not idyllic, because men are sinful everywhere, but in general, I've found that qualified construction workers tend to be a quite realistic, down-to-earth and honest bunch. They build real things using their skill. Office politics like who likes who, who is most presentable etc. play almost no role in trades. You get rewarded for real work, not for your office/corporation "game", where it's often difficult to tell who is most responsible for the success of e.g. a marketing campaign. The lights are on, the engine runs again, the building is sealed. You can't dispute that. If your boss doesn't like something, you tell him it's plumb and square and that he can go check it himself. And this attitude is usually respected.

Some guys in the business have interesting life experience under their belt, like prison time, failed business ventures, crab fishing in the Arctic, growing up homeless etc. If I were a writer, I'd have high quality material for a few characters in my novels.

All in all, it can be a pretty healthy lifestyle for a Christian, especially for your mind. You learn stuff, you apply it, you solve puzzles, you build real, useful things for which you get rewarded. You don't take your work home. You return home worry-free to make love to your wife and play with your kids. I remember my years in construction with fondness.
 
I myself have done both blue collar and white collar jobs.
White collar includes ten years working on I.B.M.midrange computers systems in technical support/ operations and originally studying three different programming languages.
I never coded/ programming, as for me coding ten hours a day, is a nightmare. This 10 month coding school cost by todays money rate about $13,000.00.
I also did the blue collar work of hazmat cleanup
And pest/ vector control for over 11 years.
This included work on residential buildings,commercial areas and the fumigation of commodities in shipping ports.Also worked briefly in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base and two different FOBS near Pakistan border.
These last two paid $2000..00 a week.
Also did some security work on the airfields in these areas
My own preference is combination work.Examples being CDL-A hazmat transport,
Certified welding inspections or mud/drilling logging in the oilfields.I ,ve been recruited for these last two positions lately and I already have a CDL-A commercial license.The oilfield pay super high and there are smart jobs in this field.
NDT, welding, horizontal drilling and truck dispatchers to name four.
Making 100K a year is quite normal.
Lastly, I am over 60 years old , a fitness fanatic and will not retire any time soon.
Peter L.
 

Twarr

Chicken
Originally posted on RooshV.com

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Last fall I stayed in Alabama for one month to work in home construction. During that month, I gained more construction experience than my previous 41 years of life, which consisted mostly of assembling Ikea furniture and nailing things to the wall. This blue-collar job was given to me at a stage of my life where I desire to own a home, so I took the work seriously and contemplated on the experience after it was over. Here are fourteen things I learned…

1. Nothing fits the first time around​


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You can sum up construction as “forcing things to fit that don’t want to fit together.” You can take your time, be methodical, and measure diligently with your tape, but when it comes time to lay down a counter or build stairs for a deck, the pieces won’t fit. Then you have to figure out how to make the thing fit, either by cutting some more, using a wood shim, or pounding it into place with your fists of rage.

As a perfectionist, I dislike how construction work is more an art than a science. In fact, my writing is more of a science because I am able to methodically examine the purpose of every word in every article or book before releasing it to an audience knowing that it is perfect based on my ability, but in construction the standard is often “that’s good enough” before moving on to the next task that will also be impossible to get perfect.

2. It’s okay to mess up​


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Mistakes happen all the time. Whenever you hear an outburst of profanity then one of your coworkers just made an error, and you hear profanity all day long. Construction is not a baking recipe where if you add the wrong amount of ingredients, your bread won’t rise properly. In fact, a good chunk of the workday is correcting your mistakes or correcting the mistakes of the contractor who tried to do the work before you.

The biggest hurdle I had to doing my own construction work was the fear that I would mess up. Now I see that as a big laugh. Even the experts mess up, so the perfectionist in me officially died in Alabama.

3. There is no one right way to complete a job​


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There is no field manual to complete a job. You attack a task based on your experience and the tools you have on hand. The more experience and the better tools you have, the more likely you will complete the job quickly with the fewest mistakes. When you’re learning on the job like I was, you observe a variety of techniques and then pick the most efficient ones to incorporate into your skillset.

Funnily enough, the one time there was a field manual on a job (to build an outdoor gazebo from a kit), the foreman didn’t like the instructions and modified it based on his experience, which ended up saving us time. Even a detailed instruction manual is just one way of getting things done.

4. Blue-collar men are not college-educated​


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I don’t remember meeting any college-educated men on the sites I worked at. When I got hired, the second-in-command looked at the boss and exclaimed, “We’re hiring former scientists now.” What the workers lacked in book knowledge they made up for in practical experience.

I noticed that blue-collar men process information and content differently than my college-educated peers. The attention spans of the former are not trained to read dense books or listen to long podcasts packed with information; they much prefer shorter snippets and sound bites to get to the essential truth of the matter, which I imagine is why politicians and corporations create memorable slogans. Blue-collar workers also don’t waste time participating in political activism or getting to the bottom of intricate cultural issues. They don’t have a vague mission to “spread the truth” or “improve society.” They care more about getting through the day and then getting paid on Friday. They hate communism, love guns, smoke cigarettes, chew tobacco, engage in more direct communication without a labored sensitivity for other people’s feelings, are more masculine, are less politically correct, like making fun of gays, and curse in every other uttered sentence, if not every sentence.

5. Working outside is harder than working inside​


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When you’re working outside, you’re more likely to be digging holes, carrying very heavy things, serving as a blood meal for bugs, or on the verge of passing out from baking in the sun. By comparison, the hardest part of indoor work is bending down repeatedly. Digging holes in the summer heat really is the worst.

6. Workers break every safety rule in the book​


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Before using a new tool, I like to educate myself with safety videos on YouTube so that I don’t injure myself. The men I worked with never followed these rules, and actually invented new ways of using tools that were rather dangerous. One example is the “standing cut,” whereby a man takes a piece of wood, braces it against his bent right leg, then uses a circular saw to cut it. When it came to eye protection, the most common form was squint goggles, which as you may surmise is the act of squinting while sawdust is flying at your face. I was the only person on the job who ever used ear protection, and I figure the other guys thought I was a sissy for doing so.

The worst injury I saw on site was a man who dropped a heavy piece of metal on his foot. He wailed in pain for some time, almost to the point of tears. When I suggested he get emergency medical treatment, the foreman looked at me and said, “Roosh, I know you’re trying to be helpful, but he’ll be fine.” Sure enough, he resumed work a few minutes later.

7. Construction is a matter of time as much as skill​


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Most construction jobs can be done by any man possessing an IQ of 95, at a level comparable to the pros. As long as you study a handful of YouTube tutorials and be patient, you can complete a job that looks great, but the reason most people don’t do it themselves is because of time. Your lack of experience and skill means it will take you weeks to paint your house while the pros can do it in a couple of days. If you tell me to build an outdoor deck right now, I’m confident I could do it, but it would take me forever.

Construction isn’t rocket science. If you can assemble Ikea furniture then you can theoretically build stairs. In the future, I’ll probably do smaller home jobs on my own and hire out the bigger ones.

8. Building is more fun than finishing​


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Building is when you buy the raw materials from Home Depot, devise a plan, cut all the required pieces, and then put it together, such as a deck or even a house. There is a lot of room for error and you don’t have to pay much attention to detail. Finishing is when you’re painting, adding trim, caulking, touching-up, or otherwise doing a task that will make the outer layer finished and visible to the world. The latter is far more monotonous and boring because you can be doing the exact same task for hours on end, whereas building is composed of more tasks and variety. On the plus side, finishing is generally easier for an inexperienced worker because of its simplicity.

9. Your body is either built for manual labor or it’s not​


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My physical energy decreased every week while on the job with no hope of recovery. The 100+ equivalent squats I was doing each day caused my legs to feel numb at night. I was so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to read. I figured that for every four weeks I worked, I would need at least two weeks off.

Compare that to men who have been in this line of work for decades. There was one man in his fifties who had never seen a gym in his life. He drank heavily, smoke, and ate fast food every meal, yet he could run laps around me. A weekend of hard partying actually had the effect of increasing his energy. Many men who did not look physically impressive were able to maintain consistent output while I faltered because of my fragile constitution.

If I had to pay the bills, I have no doubt I could work construction indefinitely, but it would come at a cost of all other areas of my life, including my intellectual work. I wonder if the job we’re currently doing is the job we’re meant to do, and the fact that so many of us have comfortable desk jobs may be an indication of how weak men of our generation have become.

10. You don’t need the right tool (but it sure does help)​


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Home construction is a mobile job. You drive to a person’s home with the right materials and tools and then get to work, but you can only fit so many tools inside a truck. This means that you have to visualize the job beforehand and decide which tools you need, but you will always forget something, and when you do, it doesn’t make much sense to leave the job and spend an hour or two retrieving the tool you need. Improvisation is common.

I have witnessed water bottles being used as paint buckets and power drills used as hammers. One task I was assigned to called for using a clothing iron to melt a strip of adhesive attached to Formica. We did not have an iron, but we did have a hairdryer for some reason, so I used that instead. You will never have all the tools you need.

11. There is too much drone work​


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The more skilled you are, the less drone work you do, because it wouldn’t make sense for the foreman to mop the floors when the guy making the least amount (me) could do it, but even the most skilled worker did lowly things like hauling trash to a dumpster or digging holes. That said, if toilets had to be cleaned, like was the case one afternoon, the job went to me, and so I cleaned the toilets. Even the owner of the company got his hands dirty, usually when it came to meeting an urgent deadline. Your ability to get the job done mattered more than your perceived status of being above this type of work or that.

12. Your mind begins to obsess about lunch, quitting time, and the weekend​


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For the first week on the job, I was genuinely interested in all the work I was doing, but by the third week, all I could think about was lunch, and when lunch was over, all I could think about was going home. All my fantasies started to revolve around the times I knew I wouldn’t have to work, because the work itself wasn’t fun. Every cool thing I learned on the job was surrounded by hours of drone work. For my coworkers, the weekends were time to let loose and live it up to unwind the tension from working manual labor all week. They would sometimes scandalize me with stories come Monday.

13. The favorite music of your co-workers can drive you crazy​


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A few of my coworkers needed to listen to music while working, either rock, country, or hip hop. Rock was tolerable, especially if it was the oldies station. Country music was intolerable, because all of the songs were about a guy who couldn’t imagine living without this one amazing woman in his life. Maybe old country music displayed genuine masculinity, but modern country is idolatrous slop.

Hip-hop music was the worst. I wanted to take the power drills laying around and apply them to my brain to stop the pain from the incredibly stupid and disgusting lyrics. I could forge through country music, but during the hours of hip hop, I relied on prayer to distract me from the assault on my ears. I preferred working in silence, especially if we were outside, so that I could hear the birds. They were my preferred music.

14. Construction is not worth doing financially unless you develop a specialty or trade​


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I imagine that entry-level construction is the hardest way to make money. Your pay hardly increases with years on the job (partially thanks to the flood of unskilled immigrant labor), there are no benefits like health care, and if your body wears out, you will be in dire straights. Unless you are a college student looking for a short-term job, I can’t advise it.

To make a blue-collar job worth your while, you should receive training and focus on a specialty. Better to become a carpenter, plumber, electrician, car mechanic, or some other trade where a hungry Central American worker who just arrived in the country can’t immediately compete against you. These jobs still require a heavy bodily investment but less than a grunt worker. You use more of your mind and get paid way more.

Another option is to start as a grunt worker, gain experience over a few years, and then start your own contracting company. From observing my boss, there is a lot of stress involved in owning a firm since you are responsible for both employees and demanding clients, but you can achieve a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I did notice that heavy smoking and drinking are common among men who work construction.

Conclusion

I can admit that I had a romanticized view of manual labor. It has been easy for me to advise other men to pursue a trade while I sit at a desk all day, but now that I see the intense bodily involvement, I can’t advise it for men who don’t have a sturdy physical constitution. If you’re a dainty cosmopolitanite like me, you will wear your body out before retirement and have to pursue another line of work.

Even though I’m not cut out for manual labor, it was more fulfilling to me as a man. My body was used more in line with its intention from creation and I slept better than I ever have. I enjoyed the comradery with salt-of-the-earth men where I did not have to speak with a filter in case I offended a female coworker who would then rat me out to Human Resources. If I could develop a specialty where the physical labor component was eased somewhat, I believe I could perform this type of work to earn my daily bread, but it looks like God has given me a different gift.

Construction may not be for every man, but if you have the opportunity to try it for a short while, I recommend it. You will work as men of old did, perhaps like those of your ancestry, and experience a different side of your nature that is concealed from you while working the comfortable jobs of modern times.

Read Next: 6 Things I Learned From Camping Alone
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Imagine doing it for a lifetime. I’m glad you did it for a month. Now you have a small taste of how a good portion of your readers live.
 

DanielaEverheart

Sparrow
Woman
"In fact, my writing is more of a science because I am able to methodically examine the purpose of every word in every article or book before releasing it to an audience knowing that it is perfect based ... "

Nope :
 

Hannibal

Ostrich
Gold Member
When I was 14 I used to shovel shit for dairy farms, bale 1100 haybales in an afternoon, splits cords of firewood with my preferred tool a splitting maul, but a wedge and sledgehammer work ok too, dig trenches for septic systems, smash out basements for sump pumps, all kinds of nonsense.
You get used to it, only takes six weeks like anything else.
When I was 19 I did roofing and would routinely outwork the mexicans.
In my early 20s I would move a quarter million pounds of freight by hand in a 12 hour day, in -20 F temps. Did that for years.
The hardest part of manual labor isnt the labor, its not developing a permanent injury from it.
With some gym training (taut ligaments and a bit of muscle protects the joints)and an emphasis on eating fatty meat and plenty of salt, most injuries can be avoided. Fiber is trash, vegetables and whole grains consumed in quantity cause hernias and constipation. Theres a reason why farmers peeled every vegetable, including carrots.
 
Havent read the other responses yet but here goes....R- you have started this endeavor too late in life .That, makes it Exceedingly difficult to adapt at 40 something. Thou Had you continued, you to greater degree would have adapted and your body would become stronger and accustomed to it more or less. (takes a year thou, the first 90 days are a killer)...sure its HARD, but.....Welcome to tha real world ! The funny thing in the adapting is you start to Crave WORK...you come to see how it clarify's your MIND, thinking and logic. IT IS the HEAT of THE refiners Fire so to speak... So press on maybe start out on a less intense job , something less physical if you can . As an often accused Intellectual working manual jobs all my life , i found the physicality invigoration....a MAN amongst MEN....real MEN .( and chicks dig a guy who can actually DO something ) No need for Pansy Health club membership, no need to tap-dance tha two step of words or offensive phrases . Men among MEN , suck it buttercup or shove off.... aughhhh your feelings got hurt ,,,HI larry ous ..... we needed a good gut buster ....good for tha jobsite moral !
 

PaulC

Robin
In reference to good paying blue-collar jobs, I thought I would pass this along. I was just offered a position as a case order selector (picker) at a food warehouse. Full benefits, $7500 signing bonus. Starting pay was $24 an hour with top pay of $40 an hour. They said to expect an hour or two of time and half overtime each shift as well.

I passed, as that is a young man's gig. They are desperate for workers and will take anyone right now. So if any of you are looking for work, search case selector/order selector/picker in your area. Having done it before, I can attest that it is extremely fast paced and very physical, but it pays well. (It paid OK back then, but not near what they are offering now.)

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unit414

Robin
When I was 14 I used to shovel shit for dairy farms, bale 1100 haybales in an afternoon, splits cords of firewood with my preferred tool a splitting maul, but a wedge and sledgehammer work ok too, dig trenches for septic systems, smash out basements for sump pumps, all kinds of nonsense.
You get used to it, only takes six weeks like anything else.
When I was 19 I did roofing and would routinely outwork the mexicans.
In my early 20s I would move a quarter million pounds of freight by hand in a 12 hour day, in -20 F temps. Did that for years.
The hardest part of manual labor isnt the labor, its not developing a permanent injury from it.
With some gym training (taut ligaments and a bit of muscle protects the joints)and an emphasis on eating fatty meat and plenty of salt, most injuries can be avoided. Fiber is trash, vegetables and whole grains consumed in quantity cause hernias and constipation. Theres a reason why farmers peeled every vegetable, including carrots.
Wow, you've got me beat. And I thought I did some hard things in the military, as a field mechanic, and in a heavy manufacturing place. And you started at a younger age (at 14-15 I was a city kid, and mowing lawns and delivering papers, which is still more than some of my peers were doing). You are awesome, man. Guys like you are what have made America great. I only guess you're American cuz you mention Mexican roofers. :)
 
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