The recent “damn inconsiderate cell phone users” thread, while an admirable rant, just doesn’t get me as ticked off as I should be. You see, the complaints by the Teeming Millions don’t hold a candle to what I experience every day.
I live and work in a demographic anomaly that collectively is known as “West Orange” – the western suburbs of Orlando, Florida. Until quite recently, West Orange was culturally and economically isolated from the rest of the Orlando area; what drove the economy here wasn’t the theme parks or the spin-off industries, but rather citrus production. The population, much more so than other parts of the Orlando area, has a “rural Southern working class cultural orientation,” to be PC about it.
Well, now citrus has faded into the limelight. Now, roughly half of West Orange’s population works in construction. Seems like everybody and their cousin is a general contractor, drywaller, roofer, or otherwise employed in an allied skilled or unskilled trade. In my comfortable middle class subdivision, about half the vehicles in residents driveways are well-worn pickup trucks; restrictive covenants 'round here don’t ban 'em, because if they did, they couldn’t sell any houses. We’re talking about an area where people get excited not about a new Olive Garden or something like that, but rather a new United Rentals.
So, where does the “worse than cell phones” rant come in? Easy. Name something that everybody involved in construction has – something that they never leave home without …
No, you can’t guess it, because you’re lucky enough to live around yuppies and their shiny e-leashes. Here in West Orange, though, everybody – and I mean everybody – has a Nextel. It’s part of the culture. I’m an urban planner, and I got handed a blue collar e-leash on day one at work. My colleagues in other West Orange municipalities have Nextels. Planners elsewhere … nope.
No, I don’t have to endure upscale professional types making stock deals on their Nokias during lunch. Nope … instead, I’m surrounded by the sounds of Direct Connect beeps and alerts, followed by loud, barely intelligible, low-fidelity sound that sounds something like …
“B-B-B-B-B-EEEEEP GRAW GARR BARR GRAW GODDAMN DRYWALL GARR BAAAA GRAW BAAR BAAR FUCKIN’ SUBCONTRACTORS GRAAA BAAAAR ARRR ARRR GODDAMN INSPECTOR GAAAR BAAA B-B-B-B-B-EEEEEP!”
Now, imagine that, every five minutes, in every public place you go.. Restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, filled with loud, tinny walkie-talkie conversations, most of which consists of profanities, a roll call of items from Home Depot, and maybe a little holdin’ forth on good 'ol Number 8.
Surely you don’t hear this in good restaurants, you say. Uh huh. The decent chains and the more upscale independents … B-B-B-B-B-EEEEEP! ARRRR GARRRR BRAWWWWWW GODDAMN JOBSITE ARRRR BRAWWWW GARRRR ARRRRR AIR COMPRESSOR B-B-B-B-B-EEEEEP! What about someplace like Bed Batha and Beyond, or Pier One? Yup, because odds are that cute woman checking out the cobalt blue glasses is a jobsite supervisor for some homebuilder. Movie theaters on weekends? Uh huh. Joe Contractor will be rambling on with the landscaper about irrigation zones while the film rolls, AND NOBODY SEEMS TO MIND, because everyone else is a Joe Contractor too. I’d get peace and quiet in a movie theater in Tel Aviv by comparison.
Those of you living in normal communities … be lucky, be very very lucky you just have obnoxious twits talking about “deploying robust e-business solutions” or something like that, because it doesn’t compare to the booming voice – and screechy response – of two guys holding forth on a framing inspection. Everywhere, all the time.