Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

The Knowledge Stays With Me

Whoever wrote that ad knows less about construction than me.

That sentence probably hasn't been written before.

Lately local radio has had a commercial for a type of cell phone network -- that shows that I don't know much about cell phone networks, but at least I admit it -- where the foreman of a construction site is talking to us. He says, "Right now I'm standing in a hole. A 300-foot-deep hole, to be exact." His crew's building a hotel. And I, with my still-cursory knowledge of construction because I was only in the business for two years -- though I was in it longer than that ad's writer -- know that there's no way the foundation hole would be even 50 feet deep, let alone 300.

The construction company I worked for dug some of the deepest holes in Portland. Back in the late 1990s the company took over the digging of the elevator shafts for TriMet's Washington Park Zoo station. Deepest transit station in the U.S., and those shafts? 260 feet. Special case, obviously.

And before the recession hit, the same company dug the foundation hole for a planned skyscraper in downtown called Park Avenue West. If you know Portland, it's on the block with Nordstrom east of it and Director Park south of it, and it's kitty-corner from the Fox Tower. Its hole was the deepest foundation yet dug in Portland, and it was, if I remember correctly, about 70 feet deep. That's partly filled in with a couple of levels of what will eventually be underground parking, though the hole is far from filled in because the owner of the land doesn't want to take the plunge yet and restart the building. (While I was at the company, engineers who also were there were working with the architects to redesign Park Avenue West as a 27-story tower, not a 37-story one. That's a more involved job than "just lop off 10 stories.") The building will happen one of these days; it won't be the Boise Hole, which was created by demolishing a block in 1987 and (how's this for timing, blog-wise?) will get partly filled in THIS VERY WEEKEND, 25 years later.

So, 300 feet deep? That'd be overkill. That's exaggeration. Unneeded exaggeration, because 70 feet (for example) is an impressively huge amount of dirt, rock, and old foundation dug out. 300 feet, you'd be hitting bedrock, and not even blasts from volcanoes can blow away bedrock. (Mt. St. Helens erupted laterally in 1980. Scoured a lot of land to the bedrock. What was still there? Bedrock!) I don't want to know what you'd need to clear out a city block's worth of bedrock. In short, no, and I mock whoever wanted that hole to be 300 feet deep.

This means I learned stuff. And as frustrating as it was to get fired from that construction company job last December, I was OK with keeping that knowledge. I know this because after I left that even more maddening job at the dog show company in 2009, I kind of wanted to forget everything I'd learned about dogs there and relearn about dogs under my own power. Because I wanted to keep liking dogs, and the co-worker from Hell I had to deal with there could've made me lose a lot of that love. I didn't want my fondness for dogs tainted by her. My finding construction to be neat, once I knew something about it, survived my neuroses. Heck, I could imagine working in a construction office again (hey, there is Walsh Construction!), meaning I could imagine learning more about construction. Build on my knowledge. And be even more aware of how "off" that ad is.

Wow. That was inspired by one line in a minute-long radio ad?
Tags: radio, work
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