Sunday, February 25, 2007

I will never look at another WalMart parking lot with the same blase attitude. It's interesting how one's perspective can change. Before beginning to work with Steve on this project, I hardly gave the signs and parking strips a second glance. Now I look everything over for quality of workmanship. Let me explain.
Assuming all of you visit Wally's World once in a while, have you ever taken a good look at the handicap signs? In our area of the world, at lease, the metal signposts are set in parking-stripe yellow bollards. (A bollard is a HEAVY metal pipe about six inches in diameter. It's set several feet deep in concrete. Once that's dried, it is filled with fresh concrete into which the metal sign post is anchored.) Bollards and signposts have to be carefully checked with a level - as they're being set in the concrete - to make sure they're set completely verticle.
After the two different concrete jobs are set and secure, a third concrete job has to be done. The concrete the bollard is set in has to be built up an inch or two above the level of the pavement and sloped to the edge of the hole. Then the top of the bollard has to be mounded with concrete as well. You use a rather dry concrete mix for these last two jobs...if it's too wet it doesn't mound - it runs off. (been there, done that) After this last concrete is dry, the bollard has to be cleaned and painted to match the parking lot stripes and the actual sign has to be riveted to the metal post.

Of course, that's what happens when everything goes well. Since you're working on a construction site, all sorts of things can and DO go wrong. Workers running around with forklifts are the greatest problem. (When I was using the forklift I managed to not run into anything but that was only because Steve was outside guiding me. You can't see every little thing when you're up in a high cab - and i'm not talking about the little yellow forklifts you see in warehouses. I'm talking about great big green jobs probably half as big as our old Deutz-Allis tractor.) We had several signposts to straighten - still have one more - and the landscaping company has a bollard they have to fix for us - it's all caved in on one side.
Anyhow, Larry, Lili and I have all had our day of doing concrete finish work (it's really rather fun in my opinion). We've all done a stint on the fire hose (a two inch hose has enough pressure to knock you on your can, I found, if you aren't braced and ready when the water is turned on). We've helped lay out lines for striping the parking areas and putting the 'hash marks' on the fire lane at the front of the store. And we've learned a tremendous amount about the intricacies of construction work. Even the parking lot stripers have pages of blueprint instructions. Each parking block has to be a minimum of so many feet wide, each sign has to be a minimum of so many feet above the pavement (and each type of sign has its own code to be met), and...and...and.
Then we go park in the parking lot and are completely oblivious to the tremendous amount of layout, construction and finish work that gone into making that parking lot what it is.
I remember the day Lili worked with Steve and me. Steve had to make an equipment run so he laid out a series of places Lili and I were to wash with the fire hose so they would be ready to have yield and stop signs painted on them (we're speaking of pavement, here). We got everything done by the time he got back except for two yield areas. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what he was talking about and he wasn't with us. When he came back, he reminded me there was a little sidewalk poured from the store to the parking lot. A yield sign had to be painted on the pavement on either side. Duh. Here I'd been trying to figure out which entrance or exit from the parking lot he'd wanted me to clean.
Anyhow, we're nearly finished with that project. Tomorrow, weather willing, we'll work on a Smith's parking lot up in Layton - about an hour north of here - and sometime this week we should finish the lot we've been working on lately. In the meantime I've also been subbing - have another full day coming this Wednesday and two or three already scheduled in March. So I keep busy.
Sue and Kevin and kids have been here for several days this week. Lili and Larry had friends over, too. yesterday Sue did a photo shoot of a bunch of Lili's friends in our living room - we moved all the furniture around to make empty space. After Sue got the shots she wanted, the kids created their own groupings using Genie's digital camera. They had a lot of fun but it's been really hectic for me. Oh well. The kids were busy doing something constructive instead of getting into trouble. Sometimes I think parenthood is one exhausting round of trying to come up with legal, morally acceptable activities for teenagers.
Well, 'nuff's enough. Hope you all have a wonderful week. I certainly expect to.
I had planned to add some photos to this posting but that's not happening like it's supposed to so i'm gonna go ahead and post this in hopes i can add some photos later.

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