Mark and Alex – Construction

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

Mark and Alex talk about the construction being done at LingQ Headquarters and about Alex’s experiences working in highrise construction.

Mark: Hello again. Welcome back to EnglishLingQ. I’m joined today by Alex.

Alex: Hi everyone.

Mark: I’m Mark, by the way, in case you don’t know that.

You’ll probably hear some construction sounds as we’re doing our podcast here today, but because they are working on our building we thought maybe we’d talk a little bit about construction.

Alex: Interesting topic of choice.

The main reason is that I actually worked in construction.

I spent a year doing construction before I started university and it was a pretty interesting experience.

Mark: We can certainly get to some of your stories, I’m sure.

I guess probably the first thing we can do is explain what they’re doing here at our building, because chances are you’ll hear a lot of construction noises in our podcast for the foreseeable future.

Alex: There’s a hammer.

Mark: Yeah, there you go.

A little banging, a little authenticity…

Alex: There we go.

Mark: …to the podcast.

I think they’re supposed to be working on the building until March-April or the spring at least.

Alex: Yeah, another probably four-five-six months, something like that.

Mark: So it’s something to look forward to for us here for sure, because it’s very annoying all the banging and guys walking by the windows talking loudly and swearing at each other and stuff.

But what happened on our building is we have these outdoor planters and they have been leaking for quite a few years.

They’ve tried to fix them, seal them, but the water continues to find a way through and so the structure even itself, at least outside in the balcony area and where these planters are, is rusting and in need of repair.

So they’re ripping out all the planter boxes, replacing the parts of the structure that need replacing and then putting another railing up and I guess it’s going to take a while.

So the whole building is shrouded in scaffolding…

Alex: …tarps and everything.

Mark: …tarps and so on.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: And we have guys wandering around banging and wrecking stuff and jack hammering.

Alex: That’s the best.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: That’s the best.

Mark: The jack hammering is particularly exciting.

There’s also the sawing and banging, all of which is not that conducive to working.

Alex: It’s quite distracting, to say the least.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: I mean it’s particularly important that they do the repairs though, Vancouver being a climate in which rain is very, very common.

In fact, we don’t get much snow, but we did this year.

Mark: Last week was cold.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: Last week was cold.

Although I understand that in Europe it was cold.

I was in Europe last week, too, it was freezing.

Alex: Right.

Mark: But this week it sounds like it’s even colder.

Alex: Oh really.

Mark: There’s a bunch of airports closed.

Even in England there’s snow and airports closing.

Yeah, sounds like the coldest start to December in a long time apparently, so.

Alex: Is it? Interesting.

Mark: Here right now, today, it’s pretty nice.

Alex: It’s about three degrees Celsius, something like that.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: It looks really nice.

It’s a little nippy, but it’s not raining.

Mark: Wow, is it like three degrees?

Alex: Yeah, it is.

Mark: Oh.

Alex: Surprisingly.

Mark: But it’s kind of half sunny.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: It doesn’t feel that cold out.

Alex: Right.

Mark: It’s not raining. Yesterday it was just horrible.

Alex: It was.

Mark: It was like two degrees and raining hard all day.

Alex: Oh the joys of weather.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: Right.

Mark: But you were saying you did work in construction.

What kind of construction was it?

Alex: I did commercial construction, so particularly building high-rises or high-rise apartments.

Now, the building in particular that I worked on ended up being 41 stories.

Mark: Right.

Alex: And when I started it was on the third story.

And when I started I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Mark: Right.

Alex: No knowledge of construction or anything related to it.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Simply found the job on something called “craigslist”.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: And it was just, you know, something to make some money for a year and then to help pay for university.

But it was pretty cool because I ended up working in construction for 12 ½ months, which means that I experienced every different season that we have here.

Vancouver, as some of you may know, is a very moderate climate, which means that it doesn’t get that cold in winter and it doesn’t get that hot in summer.

But, interestingly enough, when you’re working outdoors for anywhere from eight to 10 hours a day it really takes its toll on you.

Like the hot is amplified and the cold is as well.

I remember it was two years ago during the winter that it was pretty cold and I remember every day my nose was just dripping, like literally the whole day; constantly having to wipe my nose and wearing these huge jackets and two pairs of pants, soaked and all that stuff.

Mark: Well, I know like on a day like yesterday as I’m traveling around and you see guys working outside I think ah, this is not such a good day to be having an outside job.

Alex: Yup.

Mark: In the summertime when I’m sitting inside my office and it’s a beautiful day outside then I think the guys that are outside have a good deal.

Alex: You would think.

Mark: You would think.

I mean yeah, sure, it can get pretty hot, but still you’re outside.

How bad can it be?

Have something to drink.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: Suck it up.

Alex: It’s really tough.

It’s easier in residential construction, which is just building houses and stuff.

Mark: Right.

Alex: The guys are much more comfortable.

Like they can, you know, go in and out of the house.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Easy access to amenities, but when you’re 30 stories up…

Mark: Right.

Alex: There’s literally a guy that has to carry a pitcher of water from the highest that the man hoist will go.

The man hoist is like an outside elevator.

Mark: Right.

Alex: So a guy will have to go down to the ground, get the water…

Mark: Right.

Alex: …then go back up the man hoist and then carry it up, you know, four or five flights of stairs.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: And then, you know, immediately the 20 guys up there swarm to it, drink it all and it’s empty and you have to go down again.

Mark: Yeah, I can see where being in a high-rise would be quite a bit different.

What were you doing?

What was your job specifically?

Were you the water guy?

Alex: I was what you call a laborer.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: Which, when I explain it to people I normally say I was kind of the lackey.

Mark: Right.

Alex: So, I did all the…

Mark: That’s why I asked if you were the water guy.

Alex: Yeah. So I would do things like getting water, but also a lot of moving materials.

Mark: Right.

Alex: And also a lot of cleaning and really, more than anything, making sure that the carpenters and the foremen can do their jobs well.

So, providing them with all the materials they need to ensure that they’re able to do that.

But, actually, towards the end of it I ended up doing a lot of the pouring of the concrete.

Mark: Oh yeah.

Alex: Yeah.

So we would have to climb up on these forms on the walls and, you know, there’s the big concrete pump.

That’s the boom that’s swinging around.

Mark: Right.

Alex: You’ve got to pour that into the wall, really dirty.

Especially in the winter it’s super cold, because when you’re up like 30 or 40 stories it’s anywhere from five to 10 degrees colder than it is at ground level and you’re not protected from the wind.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Sometimes it would be snowing up at the top and not snowing at the bottom.

Mark: Oh yeah?

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: Or raining, rather.

Mark: Right.

Alex: But, yeah.

So towards the end of it I started to do a lot of the concrete pouring; less of the kind of menial sweeping-type jobs.

Mark: Right.

Alex: But, I mean someone has to do it, you know?

Mark: Was that better or worse?

Alex: I liked it more towards the end.

Construction is one of those jobs where the higher up you go the less you’re expected to do physically.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Right?

The new recruits they just pound it into them.

You know like take this, take that.

Move this, move that.

You know, instructions here and there.

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: But as you start to move up the ladder there’s more slack.

You’re kind of more allowed to think.

Mark: Theoretically you’re more skilled and can do more things?

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: Right.

Alex: So I enjoyed that more because it felt like it was kind of at least using more of my potential rather than just being this, you know…like you don’t have to think, that’s the thing.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Like when you’re doing a basic job like that you don’t have to think at all.

You just do stuff.

It kind of feels like your brain starts to atrophy, you know?

Mark: Yeah.

Alex: You’re not using it. It’s just you’re physically exhausted.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Mentally not doing anything.

Mark: Yeah. No, I can see that.

I’ve only ever been involved with residential construction.

But, there again, I wasn’t actually doing the work.

I was watching people do the work or getting people to do the work.

I’m sure it would be quite a bit different than a high-rise like that.

Alex: But I think at the same time the high-rise construction is probably a lot more simple because you end up doing the same thing over and over.

Whereas, in residential it requires a lot more skills and abilities because every house is different.

Mark: Right.

Alex: Right.

Mark: Yeah, that’s true.

I mean I’m always very impressed with how the different trades people are able to do their jobs, you know, from the guys building the frame in residential construction.

The most impressive thing is how quickly the house seems to go up.

Alex: Right.

Mark: The frame of the house goes up in no time and then the roof on it and the windows and, wow, then it really seems to slow to a crawl after that.

Alex: It does, as soon as the heavy stuff is done.

Mark: The plumbers and the electricians.

Yeah, the heavy stuff is done, but all the detail that goes into a house, the tiling and the plumbing and the electrician.

Alex: Everything that makes it a house.

Mark: The flooring, everything, the painting.

Whatever else goes on seems to certainly go on for…

Alex: A long time.

Mark: …a lot longer than you’d think.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: You think, wow, it’s almost done.

Alex: Right.

Mark: And it’s not.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: Anyway, I think that’s probably good there.

We touched on the subject of construction for any of you that might be interested.

We’re taking advantage of the current situation here.

Alex: Yeah.

Mark: And we will talk about something else next time.

Alex: Yeah, I look forward to that.

Mark: Okay, bye-bye.

Alex: Thanks for listening everyone.

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