If you’re an elitist, classist, pseudo-intellectual like myself, you’ll find that maintaining any semblance of sanity while stooping yourself and short-selling your ideals to toil away on a construction site takes a certain brand of self-preservation instinct. Not only is it important that those you are working with don’t really know who you are, it’s also critical that they are somehow led to believe that you are like them. You don’t want to be the ‘faggot’ on site who no one talks to, or the ‘greener’ who gets delegated the shittiest jobs via back-lot work site conspiracies, or the victimized shmuck who finds his boots full of line chalk and his tool belt in the outhouse every couple of days. Because more important than even surviving your co-workers is surviving your boss, and the only way to do that is to toe the line and become part of the team. You have to be Construction Bro.

If you’ve played sports at any competitive level for any significant length of time without being beaten up by your teammates, this should be no problem; the rules are pretty much the same. If not, better bone up on your sociopathology and start smiling through the lie that is your life. Here’s one man’s method for making it through another day.

RULE # 1:

Use the word “Fuck” incessantly. This is the most important rule on the job site. If you aren’t prepared to use the word “Fuck” for approximately 1/5th of every sentence spoken you’re not going to fit in. You’re encouraged to use other swearwords as wantonly as possible, but make sure their usage is at least doubled by your use of the word “Fuck.”

RULE # 2 (a, b, c, d):

On site you’re allowed to talk about sports, chicks, getting shitfaced, and how good you are at your job compared to how bad everyone else is at their job. Never actually talk about work, unless it’s to discuss the work of one of the other trades and how shitty it is/they are. When discussing sports it’s important to engage in endless debate on predicted outcomes regardless of the unfathomable pointlessness of it all (and do prepare yourself to get skewered for days afterward when ‘your’ team doesn’t win/’your’ player shits the bed/etc). When discussing ‘pussy’ it’s important to frame the opposite sex through the most misogynistic, boorish lens you ever feared your mind was capable of. When discussing getting shitfaced just act like yourself, because you do love getting shitfaced. Remember to adhere to Rule # 1 in all situations.

RULE # 3 (a, b):

If you have a girlfriend, don’t talk about her. Don’t even mention her name. If your crew is especially tasteless, make that ditto for Mom. These two female figures are the best, most effective, and most consistently summoned subjects for worker-to-worker job site harassment. It’s best to pretend they don’t exist. Further, if you do anything after work besides play/watch (regional team sport of choice), lift weights, or get drunk, don’t talk about it either. You may be proud of the volunteer work you do down at the local Sally Ann or your collection of vintage Pyrex, but to the average construction bro that shit is weird. Mention something out of the ordinary and the conversation will drop, unease will start creeping into the back of your mind, and come next week your little hobby will have undergone enough mental processing to come back at you as something worthy of mockery.

RULE # 4:

Whenever necessary, go to work hungover. A ‘necessary’ time to go to work hungover is whenever somebody who you predict you’ll be working closely with the next day announces that they are going out that night to (verb) party. The only alternative to going out and manufacturing a hangover for yourself is to not get drunk, go to work the next day sober, and face a day of dealing with your work bro dragging his ass around, hiding from the boss, fucking up any task he does attempt, and BBM-ing the chick he banged the night before like every 5 minutes. If however you’re both getting dragged behind the shit wagon you can at least laugh along with the dude and watch each others’ backs for an eight hour game of ‘Let’s Make Work Noises In The Basement’ or ‘How Long Can We Make The Easy Job Last?’

RULE # 5:

Avoid spending non-work hours with ‘The Bros’ at all costs. All non-work related activity engaged in will entail nothing more than embarrassment at how disgusting work-bro interaction becomes off of the job site, the suffering of ridicule regarding how tight your pants are, and the spending of way more money than you could ever justify in a bar you fucking hate.

RULE # 6:

Do an ok job. Don’t blow anybody away, but don’t make yourself a liability. As long as you’re not terrible at the work you do and you show up closer to 7:30am than you do to noon every day chances are you’ll be able to get away with things like taking a ‘mental health’ day here or there, fucking things up once in a while, or asking for that raise you were promised. Yeah, sure, you were supposed to get it at three months, and it’s a $2/hour less than what you think you’re worth, but it’s still almost double what your friend is making rolling burritos.

RULE # 7:

Etc., etc., etc., etc.,

RULE # 8:

Never stop believing that one day it has to be over and that ‘real life’ will start for you sometime soon. Once you lose this…

Wait. Maybe losing this is the one torch under your ass you need to get The Fear so bad you actually go out and make something happen for yourself. Because pretending this gig was gonna be ‘mellow’ and ‘temporary’ is what landed you back here in the first place, chief.

(In Part III: The Days After Savage Nobel)

Part I: My Life As A Well-Read Meathead

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CHAD R BUCHHOLZ is a freelance journalist and writer of fiction born, raised, and somehow back living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Most of the places his work has appeared over the past few years are of the internet variety can't be found because the sites are either defunct or on hiatus. Physical examples of his writing can be torn out of the pages of ION Magazine in Canada or mailed to loved ones via the micro-magazine/serial postcard fiction publication Abe's Penny out of Brooklyn, NY. Chad graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2008. He blogs here.

17 responses to “The Savage Nobel Part II: An Abridged Job Site Survival Guide”

  1. […] Part II: An Abridged Job Site Survival Guide […]

  2. […] sober naive age Jump to Comments The second istallment of my “Savage Nobel” trilogy is up at The Nervous Breakdown and number three is in the […]

  3. Gloria Harrison says:

    Jesus. These sounds like rules that might also apply in prison. Funny (hilarious even) but kind of frightening, too.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    Very nice.
    As Gloria says above, these are rules that could apply to all sorts of situations!
    Me: I am a firm advocate of Rule #1. Fuck yes.

  5. Joseph says:

    You nailed it. A long time ago I worked construction as an apprentice, until I heard from every man with a son how their kid would never work in the trades. That was reason enough for me to get out.

    I was just 19 on a big job and in our shanty alone were thirty guys at lunchtime. “What do you like to do for fun?” The older men were talking about fixing cars, going hunting, I was getting nervous, could I say photography, or music, or dancing….too soon it was my turn, ‘Kid, what do you do for fun?’ Fuck, I answered. They might all still be laughing today.

    Everybody is late sometime or another. I used this excuse once. Fuckin bitch left me tied up to the bed and I had to wait til her girlfriend got home to untie me and one thing lead to another, sorry it won’t happen again.

    All that said, I worked with men that took pride in their work and they taught me many life lessons I have passed on to my own children.

    All the Best

  6. dwoz says:

    Ok, so I run a song critique site here on the internet tubes. If this was a song, I’d ask for a rewrite.

    I’d say that you placed me (and yourself) within a milieu, checked your baggage in, as if the context were a bus leaving a lonely and dusty four-corner somewhere out in the middle of an endless flat expanse of factory-farm soy, in the heart of one of the square states…and then simply sat back down and watched the bus leave, it’s sour-sweet diesel dust the only clue that we were starting to go somewhere but never did.

    However, one good thing has come of this. As I am now in the process of building (having built) a house, I think it might be interesting to shamelessly steal your premise, and make a story using it.

    After all, you never did actually use the premise…it’s still fresh in it’s wrapper, new-old-stock, so to speak.


    • How many metaphors/similes do you need to mix in order to tell me that you think I haven’t thought this out?

      Steal away. And fail.

      • dwoz says:

        Hey, dude….”fail” is my middle name. 🙂

        What I’m trying to say here is that you have not managed to make the “elitist” connection back into the “lowly trades”.

        In many ways, lots of those guys are workingman-philosophers. You have such a rich ground to till with that premise, and yet you don’t take advantage. Shame on you!


        please note, I would NOT BOTHER to write anything at all if there wasn’t SOMETHING here that was VERY worth pursuing. Don’t take crit as a H8tr drive-by slash job. It’s for YOU, not me.

        • I think that maybe you don’t ‘get it.’ Maybe wait for Part III or something.

        • dwoz says:

          No, on second thought, you are a visionary and I was an idiot not to recognize it. beautiful work. There’s no doubt whatsoever that your first full-length is going to get scooped up and zoom to a perch somewhere in the top 5 of the NYT bestseller list, and stay there for an embarrassingly long time.

          Tell Oprah I said hi. Great stuff. Don’t change a thing.

  7. Ryan Day says:

    That is some good advice… It makes me begin to understand the appeal of shut-innery.

  8. Excellent advice!

    So when you talk about chicks but you are NOT mentioning your girlfriend or your mother, who are you talking about? Celebrities? People who walk by? Girls you got smashed with while you were out working on the hang-over that you’d shown up to work with?

    I’d love to hear more!

  9. Amanda says:

    Mmmmm. Mmmmm hmmmm. Man, do I know those rules (and what happens when you break them) well.

  10. Cynthia Ovenrack says:

    i liked this piece more – keep it up!

  11. […] the phone and left the diner and got back on my bike and got home I reread the previously posted ‘Jobsite Survival Guide’ and felt that I wasn’t sure if I should have published it. I didn’t think it was as funny as […]

  12. nicholas hadfield says:

    fuckin eh!

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