Monday, November 23, 2009

Then and Now

Both community colleges where I teach have construction sites for new buildings. It's amazing how small, local colleges are exploding in terms of popularity and enrollment, generating a never-ending need for more class space. The phenomenon has given me pause as I contrast this past summer's with my current employment. For a brief three-week stint, I was one of those construction workers. One of my coworkers at the time told me that anytime I felt frustrated with teaching I just needed to remember the heat, fatigue, and squalor of being on the lowest rung of the construction industry.

In that vein, I've got a list of stark contrasts, then and now:
  • Then: My day started at 4:30 a.m. I can't tell you how violated I felt every time that blasted alarm went off at the ungodly hour.
  • Now: 6 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and you wouldn't believe how much of a difference an hour and a half makes. 9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays--bliss!
  • Then: I sunburned and peeled and sunburned again before my skin adjusted to the Virginia summer sun and I stopped forgetting to apply sunscreen.
  • Now: I work under fluorescents and miss ol' yellow-face.
  • Then: Wicked callouses in just a few weeks. It's amazing what five straight days of shoveling gravel can do to unprotected hands.
  • Now: Baby soft again. I guess a month isn't long enough to make it permanent.
  • Then: Voracious appetite. I used to come home and eat thirds or fourths at every dinner.
  • Now: I have to remind myself to eat lunch.
  • Then: Typical attire included hardhat, safety glasses, long-sleeved shirt (on days with insulation) or white T-shirt to reflect the sunlight, industrial gloves, blue jeans, steel-toed boots (which discolored one toenail). Apply several coats of grime to complete the ensemble (grime = dirt + sweat).
  • Now: Collared shirt, sweater, belt and slacks, argyle socks, dress shoes, backpack. I only sweat if I overdress that day.
  • Then: Hating my job; dreading it every night before I went to bed.
  • Now: Loving life! (Merely tolerating the bad writing.)


  1. Glad you're liking your job. I think there's only a small percentage of people that can say that. Congrats!

  2. This may be my very first (or second??) comment ever on a blog, aren't you proud of me?! That being said, I can whole heartedly empathize with your "Now and Then" contrasts. Every time I even begin to THINK complaints in my head about my current job I just think about all the tears (literal), sweat (literal), and blood (maybe not so literal) shed while teaching public high school. Like your former co-worker, now I tell people the key to loving your job is to have one that you ab-so-lute-ly HATE prior to ANY other job. There may or may not be other factors involved, but I am still convinced that this is the MAIN contributing factor. =)

  3. You poor post-entry level laborer. You should try doing it for two years, you completely missed the winters, lol.