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No Smart Phones at the Empire State Building

You might want to get your favorite beverage. We could be here a while. Before I get started, I may not write about yarn. You know I love writing about yarn, however sometimes I need to write about my second favorite subject, me……..and my construction life.

Did you know the Empire State Building was built in 410 days? From the first nail in the first board to the ribbon cutting (The ribbon was cut by the New York Governor’s grandchildren.) the building was completed in 410 days. I find that amazing. In the early 1930′s using the best construction methods and technology of the day, the construction industry built the tallest building in the world in one year plus 45 days.

I don’t believe we can do that today. And I know why; SMART PHONES! The workers on the Empire State Building did not have smart phones. They actually spoke to people using common sense. The workers didn’t need immediate information. They used planning and common sense.

Every worker today has a smart phone. The construction industry actually has workers who’s only tool is a smart phone. I encountered one of these workers on my new mall construction job.

I was involved in a conversation directing a couple of my workers. I could have sent the info to their smart phones but I am a dinosaur and I still think actually speaking directly to people is best. While talking to the workers, I was approached by a tiny, little guy wearing a hard hat and reflective vest. He was carrying a smart phone.

Tiny: Are you with the construction crew? Me: Yes, I’m Monner with _________ Construction. Tiny: You are wearing shorts and sneakers. Me: I know that…………. I put them on this morning. I will be off the site in a minute. Tiny: Hardhats and vests are required here. You must be visible to the other workers. I need to call my safety director.

As he placed a call on his smart phone, my mind was racing. I was thinking, ”Tiny, you spotted me in my shorts and sneakers without a reflective vest, it is nice to know I’m not invisible.”

Those were the same kind of thoughts and questions that I had for my father before he asked me to leave the family construction business. As I have mentioned before, I got the last laugh, I spend my weekends writing stories about yarn. My brothers spend their weekends bidding concrete construction jobs. Actually, my lack of focus might have had something to do with me being asked to leave the family business. I just remembered I was writing about construction and smart phones.

Tiny used his smart phone to call his safety director. In fifteen minutes I had 17 emails (on my smart phone) directing me to find out who was on the site wearing shorts and sneakers. I didn’t need to investigate long. I was pretty sure it was me.

This mall is open to the public for shopping. Hundreds (OK, tens) of young people are shopping in the mall wearing shorts and sneakers. I haven’t noticed any wearing hardhats and reflective vests. Hey, that might be a cool fashion trend. (I think I have a focus problem.)

I returned one email (verbally, using my smart phone). I called my boss, ”Jeff, you know it was me wearing shorts.” Jeff said, “I knew it was you, just let it die.” I wondered if shorts would have been a 17 email problem building the Empire State Building.

If you need to refresh your drink, now would be a good time.

One of my responsibilities of my job is to coordinate the construction of entryways of the stores that are leasing space in the mall. This includes demolition of the old/existing entryways. Last week I was asked by the director of mall construction to demolish a couple of storefronts sometime in the next month. Later that day he called me on his smart phone.

Director: Monner, we need the entry of Maurices demolished today, tonight and tomorrow. We need to tile in front of that space in two days. Me: Not a problem. I’ll get the guys working on it in an hour.

Oh by the way, I was wearing my dopey vest. I think the project managers likes wearing them. I think it is like wearing a team jersey to a sporting event. I think it makes the management team feel like real construction workers. I have news for them, real construction workers don’t enjoy wearing another layer of sweaty clothing. I might have gotten of topic there, sorry.

With the demolition of the entry at Maurice’s complete and the tile crew working, I received a call. Yep, on the smart phone. It was Tiny.

Tiny: Monner, when did you demolish the entry to Maurice’s? Me: Monday and Tuesday. Tiny: Oh, that’s what I thought.

Twenty minutes later my smart phone rang, buzzed, played music, whatever it does when I’m supposed to answer it. It was the mall director.

Director: Monner, we need to put Maurice’s back the way it was. Me: When? We just tore it down. Director: Now, Maurices put their project on hold. We weren’t supposed to tear it down. We didn’t get the word in time. Me: Seriously? Maybe someone could get all of the information we need before they dial their (construction language) smart phone. I don’t need to do this (construction language) twice. Director: Don’t worry someone will pay you.

Why is immediate information available via smart phone to create a problem but it is not used to prevent mistakes?

It feels good to use construction language again. Knitters use some “salty” language sometimes, but it’s not the same. Knitters use smart phones to look at patterns and stuff. Construction people use smart phones to hurry up and make mistakes.

I can’t speak for the construction workers of the Empire State Building. They might have used smart phones if they had them. But I would bet construction would have taken longer.

My coffee cup is empty again, so I’m going to stop writing for now.

Our crazy lives!


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