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“Every time I see a little kid waving I always try to wave back”

Friday, Nov 17, 2017

* One of my favorite things on Twitter is Chicago Sun-Times reporter Tina Sfondeles’ “Men watching construction projects” tweets. I don’t quite know why, but they fascinate me and I’ve been impressed with how many “likes” and retweets they get. I’ve suggested to Sfondeles that she should think about doing one of those coffee table books.

Anyway, Neil Steinberg wrote a column about her tweets

“It began as two men staring at a large crane near the Franklin Street Bridge,” [Sfondeles] said. “Then others joined in. I would see this phenomenon nearly every day — with men peeking at the construction site from different vantage points. Some just stood near the bridge for a clear view. Others peaked through gates and mesh covers. Some peeled the covers down to view the site. Others stood on top of a water pipe to get a better view. And this happens nearly every day, rain or shine.”

What does Sfondeles think is going on here? Men “never outgrowing a childhood love of Tonka trucks,” she explained. “I find it really endearing that these men get lost in thought while staring at the site. It’s a little time out from reality.”

There is indeed an aspect of channeling your inner child, or your actual children.

“It’s just fascinating to little kids,” said Griffiths, who has two boys, 2 and 5 years old.

What do the construction workers think of being watched? Do they even notice?

“We see people looking at us a lot,” said Michael Femali, an operating engineer for James McHugh Construction in Chicago. He said he doesn’t mind, particularly when it’s a little kid in a stroller.

“Every time we see a woman pushing a stroller, we always see kids waving and pointing, all the time,” said Femali, who operates a tower crane. “Every time I see a little kid waving I always try to wave back.”

“I’ve been doing this 25 years,” he said. “I kinda like people watching. I understand what’s going through their minds, what they’re thinking.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Soccermom - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    Oddly enough, I was just reading a piece about this very phenomenon - -written by Robert Benchley in the 1930s…


  2. - Man with a Plan - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    The operator has a super classy attitude about it. No matter how cool the public thinks heavy equipment is, the operators still think it is cooler. These people love what they do and they do it well.


  3. - NoGifts - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Everyone loves construction.


  4. - DrurysMissingClock - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    Seinfeld has a joke about this in an early season IIRC..


  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    I used to have an office in the Wirtz building at Michigan and Wacker. From my desk, I had a direct view of the dismantling of the old Sun-Times building and construction of Trump Tower, from start to finish. Way cool.

    I was amazed by the iron workers. They would pound beers at the Goat at lunch and then go back up in the sky and catch beams. A lot of them refused to wear safety harnesses as a point of macho pride. Can’t imagine.


  6. - Centennial - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:13 pm:

    One of my favorite things on Twitter right now as well, and I wasn’t sure why until Tina’s explanation. It really is endearing to watch men of all walks of life stop in their tracks to watch in awe as a piece of metal is moved from one side of the site to another.


  7. - Chicago_Downstater - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    Very cool piece. Construction is always exciting to watch–unless you’re stuck in traffic for it. I like to see it because I see it as a good economic omen…even if that doesn’t always bear out.


  8. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    One of my best friends and I both work in construction and we’re constantly texting each other pictures of our job sites. There is nothing cooler than skilled workers and their machines building things.


  9. - Anon - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    This is so cute!


  10. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:48 pm:

    There is something in watching something very difficult and precise come together. Danger, talent, nerve, focus - something being built up vs. torn down. Seeing a final product, which is almost rare today.


  11. - Puddintaine - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:50 pm:

    Real work and accomplishments give a very fine satisfaction


  12. - a drop in - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    Posting a monster truck with 10 foot tires on FB will always make my wife’s day.


  13. - Anonymous - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    I think it’s a pretty cruel thing to do. Shaming guys looking at whatever. Would Tina be ok with me posting photos over and over and over of women shopping? Or eating? Or walking dogs? Regardless of her intentions, do you think the men are getting backslaps saying “hey awesome you’re in Tina’s posts!” Or are they the punchline in a tired joke?


  14. - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    Ironically, men love watching demolition just as much.


  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    ===I think it’s a pretty cruel thing to do===

    That’s the most bizarre comment of the week.


  16. - Dome Gnome - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    One day I was watching a crane lift an MRI machine up to an upper floor of a Northwestern Hospital building. It took several hours, but a little boy in a stroller watched the entire time. He had miniature construction equipment toys lined up on the tray of his stroller and alternately played with his little toys and watched the heavy equipment operators do their work. A good time was had by all.


  17. - yeah so what - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    I follow Tina on Twitter. I love when she sends these pictures out. But as a man who likes to watch construction - her photos are only of the dudes. What I actually want to see is the construction.

    yes we like to look at big machines and stuff - i make no excuses for it I am a little boy inside


  18. - We'll See - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    - Anonymous -
    “… women shopping? Or eating? Or walking dogs.”

    Now I see why you signed in anonymously.


  19. - Northsider - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    Serious question, Anon @ 1:04: Why do you think they’re “shaming” photos?


  20. - yeah so what - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    Anon 1:04 - you’re a joke, there is nothing offensive about it


  21. - yeah so what - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    “Ironically, men love watching demolition just as much”

    Streator - Rich once posted a stop motion video of the demo. of the Sun Times building - it was really cool


  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    The Sun-Times dismantling/Trump Tower construction had the added interest of that most of the materials and machines were brought in and out by barge.

    Put a thrill into the Wendella commuter ride when they had to navigate around those loaded down barges on the move.


  23. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    I’m envious, word. Have loved to watch construction since I was a kid and Dad worked for the construction company that built the UI Assembly Hall.

    We’ve actually got a crane in the air in Springfield and old AA will be watching on occasion when that job really takes off.


  24. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 2:11 pm:

    As the son and grandson of ironworkers, I’ve always appreciated the skill involved in erection of buildings. It was even more fun the few times I got to visit a job site as a teenager and actually walk to iron.


  25. - RNUG - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    == I was watching a crane lift an MRI machine up to an upper floor of a Northwestern Hospital building ==

    That reminded me of the iconic photo of a crane lifting one of the first computers through the wall into Franklin Life.


  26. - 37B - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    I think some professions have “waiving at children” in their job descriptions. Think railroad engineers.


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