It was a hot summer afternoon; a little hotter than usual at our location between the tall trees that stretched down both sides of the highway. From my experiences, I knew we'd either be near, or under, an afternoon shower. In a perfect world, stopping and waiting to see would have been nice, but that was out of the question. We had a concrete wing wall to pour and needed to finish the forms.
We'd placed the box culverts a few weeks before. After the general contractor finished their embankment around the culverts, it was our responsibility to place the concrete wings that held the embankment and protected the road from washing away. The creek wasn't extremely large, but the debris in the brush along the banks showed the water could be over a person's head when the creek was full.
Our concrete was set for 3:00 pm. We were finished with the forms by 2:00 pm, but I was checking braces and forms to feel comfortable about the pour. While I didn't expect any problems, making the rounds killed the time I would spend pacing and worrying. Concrete does that to you; especially after you've seen a large form give and lose a few dozen yards of concrete.
As I walked around the forms, I watched a patch of gray to the east. It was growing large in the hazy summer sky, so I knew a heat shower was brewing. Over the next hour, it grew larger and I could see the sky was almost black behind the tree line across the highway. Rumbles of thunder started as the first load of concrete arrived. I had thirty minutes to empty the truck before the finish up load arrived. As we placed chutes and backed the truck, the rumbles became louder and an occasional bolt of lightning would flash behind the trees.
As we placed the concrete in the walls, an occasional drop of rain would fall. At around 20 minutes into the pour, the wind suddenly gusted from the east, dust started billowing and torrential rain started falling. The shift of the storm to the east I hoped for was not to happen. The storm, now in full fury, was drifting over our location. We couldn't pour in the heavy of rain, so we all scattered to the various trucks on site to wait for the rain to end.
As I sat in my truck, I was thinking about the time limit on the concrete and how long it would be before I'd have to "eat" the remainder of the load. From my calculation, I had about 5 minutes left. As I was thinking, the finish up load arrived. After 10 minutes, I decided I needed to tell the driver of the first truck the concrete was too old and would be rejected by the project inspector.
Stepping into the rain was like walking under a waterfall. It wasn't letting up and the dark gray sky was a sign the rain wouldn't stop anytime soon. Cursing our luck, I walked through the mud on the shoulder to look at the concrete already placed. There wasn't much to look at, since the raging creek was over 5 feet deep and rising. Cursing my new discovery, I went to both drivers and told them they were done. One was leaving with one yard of concrete; the other was leaving with eight.
Rain was still heavy. The crew, now realizing it was pretty well over, loaded what tools were left and headed to the tool house. It was still pouring rain as we finished and headed home. Everybody was soaked and tired. The cooling rain wasn't pleasant any longer. The cool air from the thunderstorm dropped the temperature to the low 70's, so being outside was like standing front of an air conditioner while soaking wet.
As I drove, I turned the heater on full to warm up and dry off. I called my boss to tell him about the disastrous afternoon. He understood, we'd both been in construction for well over two decades. We'd fought these types of battles before, so it was business as usual. Still, it was a big disappointment.
After about a week, the creek finally drained and the water stopped running. It took two days to clean up the mess, replace the forms and prepare for the pour on the third day. It went without a glitch. Within a week we were through with that location and well on the way of having another ready to pour down the road.
In Case You've Wondered
My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.
If you're here for the stories, I started another blog: scratchingforchange.blogspot.com
One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.
I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.