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Hard Hats


Hard Hats

"Hey, sexy lady! I want you to come sit on my face! Yeah you! I want you to come sit on my face!"

Wolf whistles, cat calls and all other manner of Hollywood level stereotyping are the common perceptions of the modern construction worker. The classic image of a sexy woman walking past a work site and everything stops and then she is getting whistled at and having rude suggestions yelled at her is show often in cinema and in stories.

Does this happen? Today?

Not very often. You see there are now all kinds of legal ways to sue the hell out of the guy for doing that, and even if you don't do that a simple phone call to the site's general contractor (number is on the big sign in clear sight) will absolutely get that worker fired off, not only that job, but any job that general contractor works for the next year.

If it is a school, college, or hospital job that ban is for life. He will never work for that company again.

But yet that image of the rude hardhat yelling at the girls is so often shown that it's silly.

More than that, it's insulting!

As someone that has worked the construction trade I have seen, and heard shit that would make a sailor blush. The bit of dialog above was yelled by a guy I was working with to a girl walking past the job we were on. We were building a small church. The year was 1987 and I have to say that was just about the last time I ever heard that kind of thing yelled.

The problem with stereotypes is they while they do have some basis in fact, maybe the past or in some other place. It's not the here. Not the now.

Now? Well, if you are a woman and you are dressed to the nines and you walk past a construction site what can you expect?

To be looked at. Yes, you will be looked at. Count on it.

Why? Why are those dirty nasty men so rude as to stare at the women walking past?

Because you are without a doubt the most beautiful sight to touch our eyes during those long hours. We spend eight hours plus looking at other sweaty, dirty men, having to deal with pissy people that think they know what needs done. We are in a constant state of being rushed, in a very dangerous place to be rushed. Most of the time we arrive on the job to be told we are three months behind on our first day there.

Why? Because the general contractor was held up by changes, delays, weather, and "unforeseeable" problems that affect every job but are never made allowances for in the job schedule.

The superintendent has a headache due to the fact the architect is pushing him. He passes that headache down the line... all the way to the poor guy trying to earn a living doing a job that sucks pond water, but pays the bills.


So there he is, standing there with a dozen people above him making his life miserable and when he looks up what does he see? A beautiful woman.

He doesn't know who you are. He doesn't know your life story. He doesn't know about your college degree, that you have thousands owed in student loans or that you have two kids at home and a husband that wont cut the grass. All he knows, in that brief look, is that you are the best thing his eyes have seen in what has been an otherwise typically crappy day.

So he looks. He enjoys the movement of those curves and hips your husband complains about. He doesn't think your getting too fat, he thinks you look great in those tight pants. His eyes will devour you like a starving wolf because he is just that. His mind is starved for anything that isn't the same 'shit' he sees day after day.

Masons, electricians, carpenters, drywallers, roofers, plumbers, and all the pricks in business suits and shiny new hardhats that are making his life miserable. That is his day to day view of life.

Safety men telling us not to do this and to stop doing that. Treating us like we are three year old kids at the top of a set of steps.

Foremen telling us we only have 15:00 minutes to take a break and to not leave our work area to take it. Then his pain in the ass is standing there with a watch glued to his eyeball daring you to be a second late at lunch.

Oh yeah, hardhat lunch time that classic visual cliché.

Seen in hundreds of movies going back to the times of silent pictures. What's that lunch really like? Well you have only 30:00 minutes to eat your food. A cold sandwich or (if you're lucky to have a wife that loves you or time enough to do it yourself,) a bowl of leftovers from the night before, heated in a microwave someone brought to the site that only half works and has nine guys are waiting to use. Chug down a soda, stuff a Little Debbie cake past your teeth and it's back to work.

"Take fifteen, call it twenty, wish it was thirty." is a very true saying.

Oh yeah and they want you to go use the port-o-let in that time too.

(I wont even go into the constant state of filth that is a port-o-let on a construction site.)

Now live that, day after day, for about a year in the same place with the same faces, day after day, and does it surprise you at all that that guy will look up at you as you are walking past?

You're a new face... although I will be honest, he's not looking at your face. For those few moments when you are walking past you are the girl of his dreams, you are his fantasy.


You, who looking in the mirror think you look terrible. You, whose husband nags you to lose a few pounds. You are a fantasy, a daydream in the mind of a tired person who has too much to do and not enough time to get it done. But he will stop... stop and stare at... you.

True, if you could read his mind you would probably want to slap him. But the fact is you will never be payed a more honest compliment.

He will make half hidden motions to others around him to look at you. Drawing their attention to you as well. It's no longer the line of guys stopped staring at a girl's ass as she walks past. It's now almost one at a time, guy after guy checking you out, then sharing a grin with the others they are stuck working around.

Soft whispers have replaced the vulgar shouts of the past. No less vulgar in some cases, mostly comments about your ass, your breasts, your legs, your face. The visible. The easily commented on.

Oh, I can hear your mind. "Well, it's still rude."

Is it rude to go into a museum and stare in wonder at the art work of the great masters? You, are no less than a Picasso, a Rembrandt, a modern day living, breath, beautiful painted Da Vinci. In all your glory you are presented to that hardhat wearing man.

And that is an important part, as well. Man. (Yes, there are women in the work place, I've worked around more than a few. Guess what, they look at the sexy guys walking past. Well, some of them do.) He is in the end nothing more than that. Just a man. He probably is a father as well. A hard working, bill paying, birthday forgetting man. He smells of sweat, dirt, grease, exhaust fumes, and whatever part of the job his trade is working on.

Just a man there doing a job.

A hard job, no exception. A important job? Damn right it is! The house you live in, the building you work in, the school your children attend, and the hospital that saves your husbands life. They were all build by that tired, smelly, dirty minded man who just for a few moment of his long day wanted to take a moment and look at your ass. Maybe he grinned over the idea of what he would like to do with you in that little day dream fantasy where you are all soft and willing.

For a moment he forgot about that asshole foreman who is rushing him to get finished and is then going to forget to turn in his time right. He forgot about the stupid architect that can't figure out that just because it works on paper doesn't mean shit. He stopped worrying about the power bill his check wont cover this week or if his truck will get reposed before he can't get a payment in... because he had to make the mortgage payment.

He stopped worrying about all of that because of you. You!

His kids are sick with the flu, his wife want to buy all of Walmart, his brother wants to borrow money, his mother wants him to call her more often and his dad needs him to come over and cut the grass Saturday cause he hurt his back and can't do it.

His high school dreams of being a sports superstar are long gone. He's looking at thirty to forty more years of this same day, till he can get Social Security. At the same time he sees the older guys he first worked worked with dieing off within just couple of years of drawing their first S.S. check. He knows that is most likely his fate as well.

He hurts, he lives in near constant pain, he is exhausted in every way possible... mental, emotional, and certainly physically. He is cold, or he is hot depending on the weather. He is just fucking fed up with the whole damn job, but is worried sick he might get laid off. His daughter need new braces. His son want a bike for Christmas. He want to get his wife a nice piece of jewelry for their anniversary. To maybe try and make up for the one he had to work out of town on last year.

This is the man that just stopped what he was doing to watch "you" walk past.

You probably should thank him for the compliment.

If you're a writer at least thank him by doing him justice when you write of him. Don't use tired cliches and research his job like you would any other profession you were writing about.

Who knows maybe next time when you are walking past a construction site and you catch him looking, hell if you're feeling flirty, give him a sexy grin.

You will make his day.

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