A Look Back

When a person can look back on their life and say there’s nothing I would change even if I could is someone living in denial.

Are there things about my youth I’d like to do differently? Of course, but it is what many may think. I wouldn’t trade the hard times for anything. I don’t want any do-overs for the pranks or nonsense I was a part of. All those things were character builders.

As I moved into adulthood and started out in the construction business at a very young age, I somehow knew that honesty and integrity was the great part of it all. A business degree would have been nice, not when it came to making money but when it came to holding on to more of it. Having the grit and determination is something you either have or you don’t. My early years taught me that only hard work would cause success. Some people have made grand fortunes with luck. But if you are in the competitive world of underground construction, there is very little long term luck involved. Of course you can bid a project think it as solid rock and once you get there you find it’s all easy digging dirt. Now that’s luck. But my experience has been the opposite way more times than not.

I always figured that if I could make enough money I could hire someone to help me hold onto it. But generally speaking no one will look after your best interests as well as you do yourself.

Few people have the ability to forecast weather for long durations out in front of us. Actually no one has that ability.

Since we are in the competitive bid business, we predict future work based on normals or even on better than average conditions. Having the weather cooperate for a several month project and it actually doesn’t rain too much is not being lucky, it’s allowing you to break even on that part of you cost estimating. People outside of the business that never face these circumstances may say, always a few extra days to your bid, just in case. If you do that, you probably will never land a project, when many of the projects we bid on will have a dozen or more competitors also bidding to get the work.

When you experience the number of months in a row that are extremely wet it will leave a person second guessing many things. That is where the unlucky part comes in. I don’t know this for sure but my guess is there are many company’s reeling from the weather.

With all this talk about weather has such dramatic effects on my type of business, I think sometimes I wish I had gone into a different line of work. I bet a lot of farmers and others had thought the same thing during the past months if they couldn’t plant or harvest.

While I have enjoyed something approaching 5 decades of digging deep ditches in some of rockiest, most difficult and unpredictable terrain anywhere, I guess I can say I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

When it comes to family and raising sons, I know I could have done better. I wish I had been more patient and understanding. I wish I would have listened more and talked less. If only I could have encouraged or even insisted they find easier ways to make a living, I would feel better about my fathering duties.

When reflecting back I often wonder how things could be if I hadn’t been so trusting of other people. So willing to take others at their word.

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