I started working full-time at the office again in mid-May and during my commute, I noticed some construction not far from my worksite.
It was at a gas station adjacent to a traffic light, close to the neighborhood I had grown up in as a kid. The gas station had been there for as long as I could remember.
It was just like the site of my first job at Dunkin Donuts, where I had worked when I was 16. That Dunkin Donuts had been demolished and rebuilt as part of a chain of other stores and restaurants for an area plaza.
There was now a huge mound of dirt and cement mixers to rebuild the pile of gas station rubble. It made me sad at first, remembering when my family and I stopped for some gas and a bottle of water on our way to a restaurant or to my Aunt’s house in the car.
We had also stopped there on our way home a few times for a 2-liter bottle of soda for dinner or milk to have with our cereal in the morning.
Every morning while waiting at the traffic light shortly before arriving to work, I started paying attention to the actual construction and was shocked to see the quick progression of everything.
Within a week or two, the mounds of dirt turned into flattened piles of rubble, lined up next to one another, waiting to be dispersed through the lot and the spot where the gas station convenience store once stood was no longer a gaping hole.
A couple of weeks later, cement was being laid over the now tightly compacted dirt dispersed through the lot. About a month later, you could clearly see the cement laid out for a parking lot.
Somehow this shocked me. I was amazed by the emergence of this new place of business, which is now a brand new bank.
It took about four months to build and I thought it would take a lot longer (a year, tops) but was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. I’ve been thinking about it since the bank started to take true shape, feeling a new respect for construction workers who put on their hard hats and get their hands dirty during odd hours.
They are, in their own way, a type of nuanced artist, shaping each and every ingredient into something entirely brand new. They can make something new and fresh from something broken and I am in awe of this concept.
Construction is creativity, architecture, design, and I feel a little guilty for only just realizing this now. There is more than just noise, dirt, stop signs, and backed up traffic. There is the emergence of something untouched, from the ground up.
To build great things, you have to get your hands dirty.