The mason that A___ and I worked for called me his Big Mean Bitch. I’d sling two sixteen-foot planks over my shoulder instead of one. I’d pull the mixer out of the way rather than bother hooking one of the trucks up to it. I’d throw twelve-inch blocks four high onto the scaffold. He meant it, I know, as a compliment.
Somehow, each day, I thought that if I could push just a little bit harder, carry just a little more weight, work one extra hour, that my boss would be happy. I thought that if I were just a bit tougher and stronger that the jobs would go well, and he’d stop motherfucking his crew, his clients, Hebrews, his wife, his kids, the weather.
It also feels good to walk through the hottest heaviest days of the year, dripping sweat, spitting tobacco in swirls of mud and oil, and chasing away onlookers with a stare the way I imagine a bigger, meaner dog might chase away a smaller, smarter dog.