Last night at around 6:30 I was getting a beer and doing a little editing a Redbar, just off of Brickell, when a line of eight construction workers came shuffling in, helmets either in their hands or on their heads, all of em still wearing their neon green vests, dusty and sweaty with their hair all stiff and frizzy. They joke among themselves, but quietly. They look and sound like they’re probably rambunctious guys when the mood is right but for now they just look exhausted.
Glad to be off.
As I’ve lately gotten reverential of anybody who looks like a humble and hardworking person, I find that the sight of them, all lined up and slumped and smiling across the bar’s eight remaining stools (somebody brings an extra one in from the patio), kinda makes my heart swell. If ever there were a group of dudes who deserved a beer, it’s this lot. And when they get their collective Heinekens they raise their bottles in a gesture of a toast but nobody actually clicks his bottle against the next guy’s. When they take their first couple sips the whole line goes quiet. And then conversation starts up again. Jokes. Plans for the weekend.
I’m thinking suddenly of the Kurt Vonnegut quote about how everybody wants to build things, but nobody wants to do maintenance, and I’m considering, by extension, the irony of maybe suggesting that men with blue collar jobs in construction, men whose lives are devoted to the actual building of buildings, are, in a sense, doing the maintenance work of society. Keeping the structures strong and secure. Conjuring massive structures out of materials.
They’re hardworking guys. Average.
They smell like shit.