I know I write a lot about the problem of being the only woman on a construction site that now has over 60 men working on it. But I’ve always had my little “disclaimers” that it’s not always bad being the only girl and I’ve said how I don’t have problems with 99% of the men I work with and I actually enjoy a lot of their company.
When the new guys first start onsite, they’re a little awkward and do the whole “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” thing. But, I do the timesheets, personnel paperwork, and the weekly safety and stormwater talks so the guys get to know me pretty quick. After a week or so, I’m almost one of the guys…sort of.
When I’m walking around onsite, I get a big “hello!” from most of the guys, nice waves and smiles from men who don’t normally smile during the day. I’ve built quite a few friendships with the guys. They tell me about their families, share pictures of new children or grandchildren and I get lady trouble questions thrown my way every once in a while. We joke about diets when I catch the bigger guys getting chicken wings out of the roach coach instead of a grilled chicken sandwich like they promised their wife. We celebrate milestones such as big birthdays or when someone quits smoking (which is RARE). They got a kick out of it when the guy in the water truck went bumbling by me really close on purpose and soaked my backside on a 90 degree day…knowing I wouldn’t hear him coming with my ear plugs in…they can be cute like that!
The site guys do seem to take some extra care when I’m around, be it watching their language, apologizing for it after profanity slips out, helping me up over an abutment with my short legs or even going a few extra feet with the bucket of the excavator so I don’t flinch when I’m standing over the trench as it swings by my head. And they are definitely a little protective. A few of them even went after some crazy guy on the street that was grabbing at me and being gross when I was outside the site fence (story for another time…don’t worry, the cops got him!). It’s great to see a bunch of burly men go after a whack job and chase him off with profanity laced tirades and threats of bodily harm. I had personal body guards for a couple months after that episode and was told not to leave the site without an escort. So my “escorts” would walk with me on my walks outside the site and I could see everyone keeping an eye on me wherever I went and checking to make sure I was ok. The office guys are always great about locking the door behind them if I’m the only one left in the office later at night. I am on a site in a city, so it can be a little hairy at times, and it’s nice to have a bunch of bigger dudes on my side!
The other thing is, the guys are always making me laugh. I swear some of them see me coming and try to think of something to say that would make me giggle. Sometimes it’s as simple as “you look radiant this morning!” and this was at 5:50 am and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. Sometimes they get poetic. I did some work for the general contractor’s site super one day, and got him a hydrant meter in a pinch and he said “I need you like the flower needs the rain!” I of course burst out laughing and told him he was full of it! It’s the little stuff during the day where the guys try to keep it light that it can turn a bad day around.
As you can see, most of the guys I work with are great family men and are just unbelievably sweet! The best part of my day is hanging out with them for a bit when we have some down time. And the way they act more than makes up for the ones that give me trouble. 🙂