May 16, 2010 5 Comments
I have a couple of friends that have been gained while working in this environment, and they are… let’s just say, of an advanced age. Not that they can’t hold their individual own in whatever trial and tribulation that is thrown their way, but I have to mention that they have been at it for some time, and experience does have some sway over youth in most matters. The international construction racket environment is one that is pretty demanding, both physically and mentally, but the one thing it DOES do is compensate you quite well financially, thus the draw… and thus the reason that people at the young age of 62 are still getting out in hard hat and harness and trying to build something HUGE.
The “draw” though is kind of running down as I am one of about six other people that will actually be in this environment longer than the next six to ten years, as the rest of the expats on this site have an average age that, even with my little clutch of youngsters on board, runs at about the youthful age of 55, and as far as I can tell there are really not that many people of any marketable age jumping for joy to come out into the international circuit. Wait, scratch that, unless they can do so with the ensured comfort of a computer in an air-conditioned office.
(-I know, I know, “as I type this post up on my computer in my air-conditioned office”. Sue me, I am trying to make a damned point here. I also don’t want to fuck up my manicure.)
There are some pretty crazy trades out here, insulation specialist being one of the more off-the-wall ones, but primarily the ones on site are management level versions of the basics: pipe fitting, welding, civil, rotating equipment, et cetera. Now these are not skills that have the same mental aptitude requirements as a brain surgeon, and are actually pretty easy and fun to learn, but they are all are labor-intensive processes and actually require one to break a sweat. Yeah, they require actual hands-on WORK, which, from my experience with a bulk of the generation that I am a part of, not many my age could even conceptualize; even if they could it would never be to the levels that those around me have. These guys and gals (not very many gals, mind you) understand that a weekend is a privilege, 12 hours a day is the norm, and you are going to have to push pretty damned hard to get shit done. Anything less would not be considered “work” in their eyes.
-My generation… it is just not there. How evident is it? Well, seeing as how I am one of a “count on one hand that had two fingers chopped off in a logging incident” number…
The thing that destroys me is the actual overall view of having to do this kind of work, of having to push yourself physically and mentally at the same time to accomplish a goal. The disparage between the generations could not be more evident then when I told my grandfather what I do in detail. He said, in his warm Southern accent “Son, you are doing what you need to. We don’t want you out there, we would rather you be close, but we know you are good at what you do. Just stay safe.”
I told a curious woman that was close to my age what I do for a living, and she asked me, with a look of disgust, what was wrong with me that I could not work in the States?
Who knows. Maybe the next generation behind us will bring forth a group that possesses the rugged individualism and determination required to come out here and populate my community with knowledge and the ability to just make shit happen. No real breath-holding on this one, and in about 15 years I am going to be the only American expat on a job managing a shit ton of Phillipinos and Indians, but hey, who knows?
-Good thing about it is if this next generation does in FACT produce this crop of replacements for our retiring workforce…. I will have seniority.
And I ramble on…