Working the Beam
Jay never worked with a safety belt. Unlike the other hard hats at the site, he appeared fearless as he strutted across the unfinished steel 150 feet above the sidewalk. Most of the crew looked similar in the “unofficial” uniform of the tower; thick, Hibram soles fastened to steel-toed boots; blue jeans, thread bare at the knees from hammering the temporary pine frame used as a construction guide. The T-shirts varied only in color and were seldom covered by a jacket even in the bitterness of winter. Most carried their livelihood around their waist in the form of a thick leather belt with a variety of much used tools at the ready. Of course, every man wore the hard hats required for insurance liability. Safety belts were strongly recommended but Jay never wore one.
He had little to prove. A veteran at the age of 38, his weathered skin, thinning hair, and graying beard belied his youthful spirit. His body had paid the price of working on skyscrapers.
As he flung his legs over the exterior beam and positioned his metal lunch box, Jay stretched his neck slowly from side to side. A fall at the last site cracked three vertebrae and his ankle was permanently fused in a bent position after the rookie at the Hampton’s job two years ago absently dropped the fifteen pound bracket on Jay’s outstretched Achilles tendon.
Jay carefully placed the thermos of hot coffee to his right when Bodie lowered himself gingerly to his left….