We just broke up a tremendous amount of cement at my house, this time without having to use sledghammers. My buddy Frank, a construction worker, brought a jackhammer over, and we pounded the hell out of the pavement busting the stuff up.
If you're like me, then as a kid you grew up thinking shit like forklifts and jackhammers were awesome, things that should be prayed to at the shrine of "heavy equipment". All the noise, the movement, the sheer solidness of the machines themselves was something to be admired. Of course, once you get behind these things, then you realize what really goes into the whole process. Forklifts are cool until you get one stuck in two feet of sand and patio base, and your boss tells you he'll fire you if you ever do such a thing again. Jackhammers are cool until you get past that first minute of using them; after that, it's just a hundred and fifty pound weight that you drill into the ground, then drag back out. After a couple minutes, it feels like four hundred pounds, and you're sweating enough to drown out any remaining illusions you might have had about how awesome they are.
I write mostly from a working man's perspective, but there is something that seperates people like me and Frank from the real working men. I'm nearly done with college, and that means that I'm nearly done with driving a forklift. For my friend, he went to college to learn how to run a business, and it's his old man's constrution company that he'll take over one day. Until then, whenever it is, he'll be in the hole digging, and on the jackhammer plowing apart cement. After maybe ten years, when he's put his licks in, he'll elevate to running the place.
Ironically, both of us working guys have it better than the regular guys who work for the companies themselves. There are lifers at the garden center who will be riding that forklift long after I'm gone on whatever endeavor I end up doing, and there's guys at Frank's company that will be on the jackhammers until they're 62. They know what the rest of their lives are about, and it doesn't entail writing a book like I will, or owning a beautiful house, as Frank will. It entails toiling in the dirt and tar forever, keeping their heads up, and doing the shit work in this country that we will all inherit one day. It's on their backs that we have built, and on their backs that we will renovate, destroy, and rebuild. This is forgotten far too often.