One day on the job site, on this particular day, I was told by my employer to come with him to Traunstein, a small city in the countryside at the foot of the rolling mountains. I knew that this job site had absolutely no protection from the sun that was going to turn us into fried clams before the day would end, but I said nothing because it wouldn’t change a thing, so off we went!
When we arrived, all I could see were concrete pillars standing neatly in a row and lots of PVC piping for the water system and as far as the eye could see, within site, of course, was gravel! Lots and lots of gravel, you know, the kind that soaks up the sun and turns into an oven top! It was 06:30 AM, and we were the first but soon Gorbi showed up, he was one one the workers and came from Hungary. We introduced ourselves and then turned to the work at hand as Ernest, the other excavator driver showed up, and he was not happy looking! As a matter of fact, nobody really was because we were all thinking about the rising temperature and the searing heat that would be accompanying it!
Ernest had the virus, and he was letting us know just how bad he felt and that noon would be his hour of departure and his constant groaning about the heat while he sat in an air conditioned excavator was making us a little irritable! Gorbi, Hans, and I were turning into steamed lobsters at this point, and no matter how many quarts of water we drank, it was sweated out within ten minutes! So every 15 minutes, one of us would go to the container office or water hookup near the gate and renew the supplies.
Eventually, noon came, and we disappeared wherever we could find some shade. Gorbi went to his black car and got in the seat, opened his window and proceeded to wolf down a large roast beef sandwich with two quarts of water. I had wisely chosen an apple, and he looked at it, than me and said, “You American’s are crazy! Work means you must eat!” and he gestured at his big sandwich and I just said, “Yep,” and turned to go to the 18-ton excavator that might offer some relief from the hot sun. After climbing into the cab, I settled myself as comfortably as possible, (they are not known for comfort) and within seconds, I was wandering across some ice pack! I mean, I was out!
12:30 PM, break over! As I dragged myself back over the sunbaked gravel to the tubes that were very hot to touch, I spotted Gorbi somewhat lurching his way from across the job site. He was holding his stomach and slightly shaking his head and uttering something that I couldn’t understand, but I’m willing to guess that it had something to do with his lunch! Hans, our employer, loaded fine rock and brought us over several loads to lay under the pipes. The PVC canal tubes were about eighteen feet in length, and they had to be clear of any debris before they were attached to each other because they would be later tested with first, air pressure and then with water and if any leaks were found, then we would have to dig them out of solid concrete, four feet thick, with reinforced steel rebar!
About an hour later, Gorbi was almost sleeping on his feet, and Hans had to jar him back into work because Gorbi was not keeping the tubes clear and tiny stones and gravel rock would slip inside! Of course, we were all tired and worn out, so nobody was being blamed, just warned about the possible consequences of an unpaid Saturday if we didn’t pay attention!
At length I was working the 6-ton excavator, one of the smaller ones and no, this one did not have airconditioning, and yes, I was roasting, even with open windows! I had to place the gravel bed down, then Gorbi would run the stamping machine over it and then I would lay fine gravel down, then came the tubes. After they were lined up with the laser, then came more gravel on both sides, about ten inches back and it went the entire length. This was to prevent the fine washed pebbles from slipping away as I covered the tubing.
At 4:15, Hans says enough! Were going home and by 4:30, I’m sitting in a small French made truck, enjoying the fiercely blowing airconditioner and two bottles of cold sweet tea!
At 4:45, I’m standing under a cold shower, and at 5 PM, well, you know that, don’t you?
I just wanted to show you that we all had to suffer today under the hot sun and tomorrow, well, we’ll do it again!