As bad as being buried alive is, digging yourself out is worse. Of course, you never think about things like this on a normal day.
Instead, today I’m thinking about work as I get out of my truck and put my hard hat on. I’m thinking of my wife, who I miss already. I like my job, but there’s nothing I like as much as spending time with Maisie. Except for football maybe, but even then, it would be a close second. Maybe in twenty years or something, we’ll be bored with each other, but maybe not. We’ve been married five years, and we still kiss goodbye and hello. She gets up early with me, to make me breakfast and spend a little time with me before we go our separate ways. It’s still hard to leave the house when she’s looking so cute and mussed from bed.
I’m a lucky guy and I know it.
There’s still a bitter chill to the edge of the wind as I get out of my truck. It’s spring, but in name only. It seems like winter is kicking us in the shins on the way out, and it’s supposed to snow again tonight. In April. I just shake my head at the gray sky, because what can you do? At least the ground finally thawed out enough for us to break ground on the condo project.
Our construction site is on the edge of town, right where the sidewalk ends and gives way to rural properties divided by acres of trees. We’d already flattened the woods on the site. It had been a little sad to see all those old trees go, but progress was necessary. Our city was just coming out of a decade-long recession, and new housing and commerce were a hopeful sign to everyone that things were looking up. Everyone here, down to a man, were thankful to have this well-paying job.
Even if it meant leaving your sweet wife for a big chunk of the day.
I sigh with a little smile because I’m still as lovesick as the day we married. I tip my hat at Ms. Josephine as I walk by. She sits out here on the last piece of sidewalk of the city and talks to herself. How she’s made it through winter so far, I’m not sure, because her coat looks threadbare. That makes me pause, and dig some cash out of my wallet.
“Ms. Josephine, good morning.”
She looks up at me and nods, her frizzy salt and pepper hair bobbing. She reaches up to shake my hand, and I do, but then I slip the bills into her cold fingers and curl them around them.
“Go get out of the cold awhile, and get yourself something warm to eat. They say it’s going to snow tonight.”
She flashes me a surprisingly clear look and nods again. “I will. Bless you.”
She doesn’t get up to spend her money, and she doesn’t say anything more, so I sigh and walk on. “Good day, Ms. Josephine.”
I jog up the steps of the foreman’s trailer and open the door. “Morning, Boss.”
“Shut the door, Grady, you’re letting the cold in,” he grouses in way of greeting. “And I saw that,” he adds, pointing a sharp finger at me. “That homeless woman out there? She’d move on if your bleeding heart didn’t keep giving her money. Some of us have to actually work for our money,” he huffs.
“Well, I do work for my money. So it’s my business what I do with it.” I say it as cheerfully as I can even though his attitude sets my teeth on edge.
He’s not usually this grumpy. I’d say we’re pretty good friends, as far as co-workers go. But like everybody, he has days he wants to be left alone, and I get the message loud and clear. And not I’m not about to let his sour mood ruin my day, either. I clock in and tip my hat at him on the way out. He nods back, so at least I know it’s not really me aggravating him.
I make way around to the back, passing the huge wooden sign that shows a color picture of what the condominiums are going to look like. It seems impossible that this giant flat field of brown dirt will someday be that shiny new housing, but it’s our hard work that makes it happen.
I’ve greeted the crew and I’m ready to get started when I see something that makes me pause. I stomp over to Travis in the excavator and climb up on the step. When he looks at me, I make the sign for him to cut the engine.
He does and says, “What’s up, Grady?”
I tap my plastic-covered, protected head. “Hard hats required.”
Sheepish, he says, “Oh yeah. Sorry. I’ll go get it on.”
“You do that. Safety first.” I pat him on the shoulder, because he’s forgetful, but he’s a good guy.
And then I go about my day, working hard, and definitely not thinking of being buried alive, or how people could fool you when it comes to their true nature.