Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a construction worker? From the moment we get up, our day is in stark contrast to that of a typical office job. The early morning hours - the ones right before starting the work day, are the only "routine" hours of the day. And for me, they are particularly enjoyable.
If you were a construction worker, this is how your morning would begin:
It all starts when the alarm clock goes off anywhere from 4:00am to 4:30am. At this point, a normal office employee would jump in the shower but not a construction worker. Why? Because why bother taking a shower when you're about to get extremely dirty. Besides, you showered the night before so you're definitely clean enough.
You slip your jeans on (which you conveniently laid out on the floor prior to going to bed), then some socks, pull a t-shirt on, and either throw a ball cap on your head or wet your hair down. Or, if you're real smart, you keep your head shaved so there's no need to deal with a ball cap or brushing your hair. Your construction boots you keep in the car because they're so filthy you don't want them coming into the house.
You climb into your car and start it. While the engine warms up, you start thinking about which kind of coffee you'll get this morning: French Vanilla, Hazel Nut, or French Roast. This is an important decision because you'll be sipping it for the next hour while you're on the road to work and you better choose one that you're in the mood for.
You drive two blocks to the nearest 7-11, park your car and leave it running while you walk in to get your coffee (there's no need to worry about someone stealing it because nobody else is up this early in the morning). You walk inside the convenience store, still wearing your socks, and nod to the clerk who gives you a sleepy I've-been-here-all-night look.
The good thing about getting your coffee this early in the morning is the clerks usually brew a fresh pot of coffee around this time and you're the first customer to pour a cup.
You choose Vanilla Nut, pour a jumbo coffee, throw a few ice cubes in so the coffee doesn't burn your tongue off, and add two helpings of creamer. You quietly pay for your coffee. Neither you nor the clerk say a single word to each other. You just nod good-bye and head out the door - nobody wants to talk this early in the morning.
For the next hour you're driving on a nearly empty highway, passing darkened neighborhoods and staring out your window at a pitch black skyline; the sun is still at least 30 minutes away from warming up the horizon.
You're cruising at about seventy miles an hour, sipping your coffee, and half-listening to a talk radio show. Most would find this part of the morning a little lonely, but I always enjoyed it. The silence, darkness, and vacant highway provides a rather nice time to zone-out and reflect on life - where am I going? Where have I been? What is important to me?
The last step to starting your day as a construction worker is parking your car and lacing up your boots.
You grab your bucket of tools and take a short walk from the parking lot to the base of the new building's construction site where you see a catering truck parked at the curb (we affectionately call it a "roach coach"). Its awning is up and a dozen men are milling around - ordering coffee and breakfast burritos, telling cheap jokes to each other, and flirting with the young Mexican girl inside the truck cooking their food.
Downtown Los Angeles is still dark but the skyline is beginning to glow from the impending sunrise. The streets are completely empty. The traffic lights cycle from red to green even though there's no traffic whatsoever. In both directions, homeless people line the sidewalks, laying side-by-side, curled up in their blankets atop pieces of cardboard. For them, it's another long night on the downtown streets of Los Angeles coming to an end.
Soon the catering truck driver lowers the awning, starts his truck, and sputters away to another job site. As the sun finally rises, a security guard pulls shut the long gates that separate the construction site from downtown L.A.. You turn now, with your bucket of tools in hand, and walk into the under-construction high rise to finally start you work day.