We’re reaching the final few days of work here in Chester…
After being thoroughly smoked out in the restaurant last week – we’ve all been working hard to ensure that Chester’s brand new premier Barbecue house will open in time.
I’ve been putting in more hours over the last couple of weeks and helping out the other teams of workers on-site. Its not often that I’ve experienced such a sense of unity on a building site. Usually, when you’re dealing with other people in the trade, you often find that toes are trodden on which inevitably leads to tempers flaring and arguments breaking out.
Ours is a trade that requires both speed and technical skill, however manners are not necessary in order for our tasks to be performed.
There is a reason why the tradesmen of the UK are branded with the, almost derogatory, term of ‘white van man’. The term has almost become interchangeable with the other infamous classification of ‘cowboy builder’, which found its roots in the 1980s British sitcom Cowboy – a show about an inept builder’s firm. Since then, the term has grown in popularity, made even more iconic thanks to the Channel 5 show Cowboy Builders which exposes negligent tradesmen. Thanks to these cultural touchstones, many British tradespeople have now been tarred with the same brush, leading to one of two eventualities for the individual.
Either the tradesmen decides to shirk these stereotypes and works twice as hard, in a bid to improve his business, or he admits defeat and begins to let his standards slide, subconsciously acceding to his self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’ve worked with men and women who have taken both routes. The tradespeople, who resent the initial impression that the customer has formed of them, tend to be rather difficult to work with. From the moment they leave the front door, they are hoping and praying for the end of the working day to come. On the drive to the site, they are wishing for an accident to have occurred or a site manager absent, so that they can take the day off – like a truculent child. When they do finally get to work on site, they’ll moan and complain when they can’t access what they need to and will simultaneously block others from working.
These kind of tradesmen come part and parcel with a building site. In every place of work, you’re likely to find an individual who isn’t happy in their line of work, however, these people are usually part of the minority rather than the majority. When you find yourself working on a site with many of these difficult characters, that’s when you can start coming up against some problems and a toxic work environment starts to form. Luckily for me, the Chester work-site has proved to be quite the opposite of this. The workmen on site are not only wonderfully cooperative, but they also share a passion for their occupations which lends each task an air of enthusiasm.