Tuesday, July 01, 2008

birds on a wire

I have been reading a new blog -- new to me, that is: Without A Net. The blogger is Erika, a young Canadian woman, living in Mexico City. Nancy of Countdown to México called the blog to my attention in a recent post. Then, "Juan Calypso" of Viva Veracruz commented in his blog on Erika's post: Me and Mr. Happy Pants.

I strongly recommend that you take a look at Erika's work. Her posts are always thoughtful and well-argued. Better -- they are very well-written. Most Mexico blogs (like most blogs) are basically on-line journals. The writers of those blogs have no pretensions about their writing. As Mack Sennett said: "Let W.D. Griffith worry about art. I'm just making pictures."

And then there are the handful of blogs that are a pleasure to read because they have style and character. Erika's blog falls into that category. I like reading it because -- I like reading it.

Her June 24 entry is a perfect example. Entitled
Stairway to Heaven, it is a Canadian vision of the recklessness of Mexican construction workers. But, let's hear it in her own words:

Because up, way up, on the climbing roof of the building, were the majority of the workers, milling over the concrete and steel skeleton like ants on a dead gecko, pounding and pushing and tossing and stacking and hammering and hollering. Of the 30 or so guys, maybe five wore helmets. None wore gloves or protective eyewear. They stood beside towering stacks of unbound metal beams and climbed up
teetering columns on rebar. There was nary a harness or rope to be seen.

One of Erika's greatest traits is her self-mockery. She is very quick to point out that she knows her Canadian genes are bouncing up against centuries of macho Mexican behavior. But she needs to cry out: Don't you know you are just being stupid?

And I can tell her that all of the OSHAs in the world are not going to make a difference. Safety people think safety is great; worker's compensation carriers think safety is great; workers think safety is just something else to pull the testosterone out of their very bodies and turn them into the equivalent of Belgian file clerks.

I know Erika's horror. I have workers' compensation carrier eyes, and I see what she sees: men about to prove how honorable it is to live as widows and orphans.

Of course, American and Canadian men are removed from this behavior by only a generation. Take a look at the photograph at the top of this post. That is not Mexico City; it is New York City. Posed, perhaps. But the attitude is every bit as macho as any trabajador de construcción.


Islaholic Trixie said...

Being in the construction trade it horrifies me every time I come across a construction site on Isla.
I talked to the vet last winter on Isla and the "testosterone" attitude is so true. Even the Mexican Vet on Isla said that Mexican Men do not want to neuter their male dogs because they feel it takes away the poor doggies manhood. They have no problem spading the female though.
There is a difference betweeen manhood and recklessness!!

wayne said...

I've always had a sneaking suspicion that that picture was photoshopped somehow. Have you ever been on top of a tall building, let alone as high up as they are. No way they would be just sitting there so casually with the wind blowing as hard as it does up high like that. Proof to me are the two guys on the far left. No way they could light a cigarette up that high. Just my opinion of it.

Erika said...

I... wow... Steve, I am utterly speechless (and anyone who knows me would know how truly rare that is!).

Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog and my writing. I am truly touched. If you ever make it to Mexico, lunch is on me.

Deb Hall ~ Zocalo Folk Art said...

Thanks so much for pointing the way to Without A Net. I'll be tuning in...I think we have a REAL writer here.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda -- When I was in college, I worked in an office building. Right across the street another office building was going up. This was the late 60s. The construction workers worked without helmets and harnesses. More Mexico than OSHA. The secretaries had witnessed two construction workers fall and die. I guess that is why machismo and bull fighting lie together so comfortably in the same sentence.

Wayne -- If not photoshopped, at least double exposed. That cloud behind the beam is ever too convenient. However, I have seen plenty of pictures that were every bit as awe-inspiring. Have you ever seen films on the Golden Gate construction?

Deb -- Erika is indeed a REAL writer. I am glad that Nancy pointed us in her direction.

And Erika -- We are all so glad that we found your blog. Your writing is true joy to read. I have been ratioining out your current postings. I do not want to run out of them too quickly. And I will take you up on the offer. If all goes well, I will have moved to Melaque by this time next year.