6 and a half different kind of geotechnical workers

These categories of workers in the world of geotechnical construction are written from the perspective of rope technician who has worked in the industry less than a year. People in the photos do not represent the over generalized categories of workers. If you got interested of working in geotech as a rope technician; the views are not always this nice and you don’t always get to work on ropes.

Tourists

Tourist are chasing quick money, not a career up the corporate ladders. After 1-12 months of work they regain their freedom to do something else. Tourists come to the industry without research and sometimes with falls expectations of cool times and easy money. The ones that persevere and return to the industry after the first season have a great risk of turning into seasonal workers, even veterans.
Disclaimer: I consider myself a tourist after 10 months.

Seasonal workers

These guys already know what they are signing up for. Seasonal worker fills his or her calendar with well paid labor work between climbing, skiing and surfing seasons. He might have another job closer to his true passion but it fails to pay the bills. This little extra money allows investing in experiences on an other continent or gadget updates without having to resort to months long diet of tuna and white bread. On work site it’s quite easy to recognize tourists and seasonal workers – often they are found staring into the distance, day dreaming, unaware of a 20 ton digger honking at them. These guys are not always aware of all the unwritten rules of the industry.

You are a women or part of some other minority in this particular industry

Get used to being judged for your looks or strength and everything else that makes you stick out from the crowds. If as a member of any imaginable minority group you can handle fellow workers taking a joke of your particular character you will be just fine. If you are a vegetarian, skinny person, fat person, bold, low IQ, high IQ, have a different sexual preference or a smart ass, you better grow a thick skin and learn how to throw back a bunch or two and make sure you are heard. The industry is conservative by nature and anyone who knows anything about it has trouble with their hearing, literally.

You get hassled and joked about for a while, then when others see you work hard, they start treating you as a part of the team. Everyone starts this way, even the whitest slightly overweighed bulky regular Jim the Carnivore. For some the uphill battle is just longer. Usually it’s up to you to grow as a person and earn others respect.

Don’t take it personally. The whole industry is full of gossip and trash talk. Gossip as a way passing time and entertainment was established well before Instagram and will stick around long after laborers get tired of swiping and liking.

Veterans

Veterans have a lifelong history as a labor worker. As time has passed they have settled down to the rhythm of early mornings and long physical days of work. Veterans keep complaining to the bare minimum and try not to stick out of the crowd except with perhaps their jokes. Veterans don’t ask questions or make suggestions, they love routines and are quite often bad at communication trusting telepathy. They can shoot the shit while on breaks and make jokes and fun of any situation with mates but usually shy away from meeting outsiders before having a pint or two first. Veterans choose their career battles wisely and ignore accidents and close calls with a shake of their shoulders.
The thing that wrenches their guts: Hipsters and too tight pants.
Subjects of talk to avoid with veterans: feelings.

Team leaders

Leaders take part in trash talk very selectively and only when they know the invisible line of common sense has been crossed. Even then good bosses try to find a positive spin to things. Supervisors know better than to poison the moral of the crew by bringing too much negativity into the site. Naturally this applies only to subjects relating to work. To any other common construction subject of the day (women, meat, sports, politics or hippies) bossmen can have strong opinions.
Worth remembering: If you get in the wrong side of them they will have the last word.

White collar office workers with metal cap shoes

Trapped in their not so high container towers these white men have shaved faces and short hair, they wear blue jeans that shrink towards the ankles. They don’t have stains in their clothes. They also don’t have time to talk about the weather or drink coffee outside with workers. Sprained back muscles have been replaced by stiff hamstrings and tight hip flexors. They usually have no idea what is actually happening at the work sites unless there is a Grass who keeps them informed. These are good men who hunt for new job sites while not being busy trying to organize daily tasks. They keep the house of cards standing while making it a little bit bigger.

Safeties

Health and Safety inspectors walk around the sites before, after and during working hours. They constantly point their tablets at things and people snapping photos of lonely pieces of timber, loose gravel, winding fences, full ashtrays (if they can find one!) and anyone standing higher than the ground level looking unsafe. From workers perspective they are often the reason why things don’t get done faster. With great responsibility comes great solitude and over protected kids. Safeties keep grown men in check with their notepads. Too much of them and workers become paranoid and paralyzing construction correctness takes over. Too little and the labor force runs around the sites without any PPE’s (Personal Protection Equipment) and throw their used ear plugs and cigaret buds on the ground.

The grass 1/2

On any of the listed categories above these guys are mixed into them as a subcategory. Day after day they consciously avoid hard work, talk more than work, and try to please the bosses by skipping the natural chain of command.

The bully 1/2

Some never grow out of their elementary school role as a bully. This behavior follows them through their whole life. On a work site this can turn into a problem if the boss leads through bullying and not through his own example and earned respect. Don’t mistake a long term bully to a person who is just having a bad day.

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