For most of my life I have romanticized rail travel. I’m not sure I can name with any specificity the reason, but there’s something about it that always makes me feel wistful and, somehow, adventurous. Perhaps it is the stillness inside the train juxtaposed with the fast-forward pass-by of the external scenery. Or maybe the silent connection with fellow passengers as our bodies, in unison, jolt to the left or bounce ever so slightly in tandem as we meet the joints in the tracks beneath us. Time becomes, at once, so critical (are we on time?) and then so quickly absorbed into the nothingness of trusted migration towards one’s destination.
A friend and I opted for this commuter experience a few weeks back in making our way to Boston for a conference with an early start. Out of the norm for both of us, we attempted to fit inconspicuously into the morning routine so rote for others. But it reminded me that everyday things, when they are not your every day, can be odd, hilarious or, even, uncomfortable. Like how do you buy a ticket?! Or why on earth are the conductors still wearing Amtrak Circa 1971 uniforms? How are you supposed to know your stop if you lost count and are only alerted by a garbled, at best, loudspeaker announcement? And why oh why do people line up to disembark well ahead of their stop requiring deft balancing and shoulder bag management at 50 miles per hour?
Despite these oddities, my romantic vision of rail travel is still intact; I loved every minute of it to tell you the truth. But it got me thinking about what I take for granted in the everyday life of our work at F.H. Perry Builder. There is such a “business as usual” aspect to construction. It’s absolutely everywhere. For contractors, there is a certain rhythm and routine to identifying trade partners, creating a timeline, breaking ground, putting on the finishing touches and closing out a job. Yet I’m sure there are things in my world that are odd, hilarious, and definitely uncomfortable for homeowners going through this for the first time. How do you compare costs? How can you possibly choose among the millions of fixture and finish options? Who will be your point person? What about neighbors? Ah, site bathroom? Can we really build this never-been-done-before idea? I know “everybody does it”, but this is my home and surely I am unique.
We actually don’t expect any of this to be normal or routine. And we don’t expect you to know how to navigate the eccentricities of our day to day. We know you are savvy and successful and we do trust that you are along for an adventure or you wouldn’t have called in the first place. But it is absolutely a part of our job to establish the rhythmic flow. The work we do is too nuanced to be left to garbled communication or to leave you feeling like there won’t be time to collect your thoughts before we plow ahead. We seek the unison of our shared experience and the faith in the final destination.
Romanticizing might be a stretch and there are no retro uniforms in construction…but there can be a stillness amongst the chaos; certainty that you’re on the right train and that the journey is the destination.
See you out there,