Scoop-Scoopin’ Dirt… 

The past few days have been busy at work and a bit of a blur.

I’ve learn to run an excavator.   

Excavator Tasks doled out by B:

  1. Clean your windshield. You can tell what kind of heavy equipment operator someone is by how clean they keep the windshield of their machine.
  2. Find the oil & antifreeze.
  3. That’s not the oil.
  4. There you go you got it..
  5. Alright turn it on.

The sound of the excavator.. oh baby it makes my face smile big. I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it.

6. Alright get out.

B backs the excavator up and out of the shop and into a safe spot in the yard.

“Ok get in there and find out what everything does!” *walks away*

Uhm.. okay what does… *boops a nob a bit causing the shovel to come up a bit.. *

Every little thing I touched did something and for every something it did I couldn’t have smiled harder. I felt like a kid, booping nobs around feeling like at any moment I was about to get in major trouble. I was waiting for “Hey! Kid! GET OUT OF THERE”

Didn’t happen.

B comes back and spray paints a bright orange circle on the ground. And yells over the loud diesel engine.

“OKAY SPIN THE HOUSE AROUND AND THEN STOP AT THIS MARK, I WANNA SEE IF IT MAKES YOU SICK”

I push the left stick to the left and holy biscuits that thing turns fast. All the sudden I feel like I’m on a ride in a carnival and I spin the house around. A lot. It’s a bit dizzying but I wasn’t sick. Check.

Next task: Use the shovel and boom to pretend to scoop starting away from you and bringing the shovel and boom forward at the same time. Keeping the shovel a foot off the ground the entire time.

This was tricky. He walked away and left me to sort it out.

I got a little frustrated and finally stopped and thought it through before trying again. What hand does what at the same time as the other hand.

I tried once more and got it. Check. I did this motion quite a few times to really nail it in there. The whole time talking to myself.. “scoop-scoop diiiiirrrrttttt.”

Next task, learn to put the shovel down and prop up the machine and using the track pedals shuffle the machine to the right, and then again to the left. “For when your stuck in the mud in the bush and you need to get yourself out!”

He leaves.

I get in and put the bucket on the ground, propping up the machine. I try and copy what he did and the tracks are both doing I don’t know what but definitely not shuffling.

I keep trying, not getting it. No…

Finally I stop again and think about it. If I push the right peddle, the right track goes forward.. Finally I got this, right track forward, left track backward, right joystick to the right = shuffle. The opposite for the other side. Figuring this one out felt good. Damn that was tricky.

“Okay get out”

He moves the machine over to in-between two big piles of dirt, shows me how to dig yourself a landing for the machine to sit on and then how to actually scoop-scoop dirt.

I get in and give it a try. All the sudden the nervous grandmother in me came out.

“Uh.. do I just, oh my God I just destroyed those frozen plants.. Ok and then turn.. and Oh shit I’m going to smash that other hill. What am I doing…”

He leaves me at this one for a long time.

Finally he comes back and tells me I’m scooping dirt wrong. Common mistake. Instead of using the bucket to scoop dirt. Think of the dirt as ice cream, use the boom to bring the dirt to you and then use the bucket at the end to keep the dirt in the bucket.

Major “Ohhhhh…” moment.  

“Ok get out.”

I wait for a new tricky task.

“It’s lunch time get out of here.”

Oh. okay.

After inhaling some Thai Green Curry at the cafe I head back to the excavator.

I’m left to continue scooping dirt for a few more hours, really delving into absolutely annihilating the hill, digging a hole to china, and working on smoothing out my technique. B stops by to check on my work. “Don’t dig that hole any deeper!”

“It’s good to take breaks when your learning new things so your brain has time to process what the hands are doing. If you like you can move the rest of that hill tomorrow. Bring your dog if you like. Your going to be filling trucks on Tuesday.”

The next day – Saturday, I show up at the site and nobodies around. I get in the cold excavator and everything feels fresh. I start the machine on my own and oh my goodness is this seat heated? Yus sits on my lap and quickly falls asleep.  

B after I had left on Friday had made a bit of a road between the hills for me to drive on in the excavator and filled in the hole to china. I shoot him a text asking what he’d like me to do with the hill situation.

“Work on keeping the ground even, not digging down into it after you’ve got the dirt from on top. Scoop up the hill from the far side, then that bit of road, and move yourself back and continue on.”

I work at this and the motion of moving the boom, the house and the bucket at the same time is coming more naturally. Just before noon he phones me and says to build a road for myself down the hill and to get down so I can pick up dirt from another part of the lot and add it to the pile I’ve been scoop-scooping from.

Building a road is not an impossible task. A road to drive a giant excavator down a hill safely on. Now that’s tricky. I take my time building the ramp as I start to picture myself rolling the excavator down the hill on my second day of running it.

After stressing about this, working at this, and sweating bullets. I make it slowly down the hill.

At the bottom I text B, “Sweating bullets here but I made it down.”

After lunch I work on learning how to use the thumb of the machine. I pick up giant dirt boulders and can’t help but dream of other things involving excavators. Clearing the bottom of the hill of my property is at the top. I picture myself evenly scraping the wild roses out of the way to make a garden. I picture myself evenly layering topsoil over the clay and even using the bucket to pound in fence posts. I picture the machine grabbing fallen trees with the thumb and ripping them out of the way.

There is creativity, even in destruction.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Scoop-Scoopin’ Dirt… 

  1. All I can think to say is, Wow!!! I didn’t have a damn thing to do with you being who you are, but I hope you don’t mind if I’m damn proud anyway!!!

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