An honest day’s work

Marana’s interns share their summer experiences.

Anthony HunterNowadays it seems like everywhere you turn there’s an article or news blurb about how sitting down all day (the “sedentary lifestyle”) will give you a bum ticker. Seems to me the stress created by this barrage of warnings will have the same effect, but who am I to say? I’m just an intern. So last Thursday, I was happy to be freed up from such fears when I got to work a day with a concrete crew in Public Works.

It was about 80 a.m. when I got to the work site off Coachline at Yellow Moon Drive. Two gentlemen were already hard at work shoveling dirt and leveling a patch where an ADA ramp was going in. I was introduced to the guys. Freddy, a kind, quiet crew leader toughened by years of laboring in the Arizona sun, seemed wary of my presence at first (it would take me a while to convince him that I was no spy). Working alongside Freddy was Alex, a young man, strong and with a bright future ahead of him.

I held back initially, waiting to see which duty I would get assigned. After a little while, though, I got the impression that I might not get asked to pick up a shovel at all, that I had been taken to be an observer. So I asked Freddy if there was anything I could do to help, and with a slightly incredulous look he smiled and said, “Sure, please!”

Jumping into the fray, I glanced sidelong at Alex to try and copy what he was doing. He caught my stare and helped out, letting me know that we were just trying to get the dirt leveled out at this point. It felt good to get my muscles working again, to feel the spade cut the earth and heave it out of the way.

The real fun was when the concrete truck showed up. We had to be quick about spreading the concrete around once it came off the slide. With Freddy’s wits and experience, our job was made a bit easier by section dividers he had placed in the space. This allowed us to tackle one smaller section at a time.

After we had spread everything out as best we could, it was time to make it smooth. I was feeling pretty good; the guys seemed impressed by my work. But smoothing the concrete requires a sort of finesse that I apparently lack. Freddy took the lead on that one, as he did on most of the finer aspects of the process.

The rest of the day went pretty quickly, with lots of work to pass the time. Freddy and Alex took me to their favorite restaurant in the area, Angela’s, and it was delicious (I recommend the chile rellenos). We ended the day back at the yard, cleaning out the bed of the work truck and joking around a bit. That night I slept as pleasantly as I have in a long time. I had forgotten how an honest day’s work tends to have that effect.

Anthony Hunter is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of Arizona. 

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