McDaniel:While You Were Sleeping: The Earth Shook | Word on the Street
by Douglas McDaniel
Aug 15, 2007 | 282 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The word on the street is silent as the wind, or a ghost, or, no, better yet, a zombie.

This is not to diminish in any way the high art of carpentry, but its 6 a.m. in the Mountain Village, and while most of this end of the world is still asleep, they are filing in by the dozens like, yes, zombies. Or at least, beings who need coffee.

They are quiet and resolute as they park in the intercept lot, heads down, with hard hats, bottles of water and lunch boxes, yes, of course, they must have had lunch boxes. Latinos mostly. Can’t put it any other way.

They stream out of their trucks, or other large white vehicles, heading to their work sites fast, no doubt with their punch clocks in mind.

It’s 6:10 a.m. in the mountains, and one is left to wonder how early it was that the construction army, streaming in from Norwood, Montrose, Rico, Cortez and points even further, first began to muster. They turn the Conoco station at Society Turn into a small, vital city center for the bare essentials as the sun rises. A guy with a big beard and overalls getting coffee in a confusing rush at that overrun caffeine counter says he’s from Rico, which is really not that far away. He says he gets up at 4:30 a.m. each day, so one can only consider the wakeup call in the predawn gloom of some even more far-flung Four Corners outpost for this advance gas-launched invasion into the hills.

Are these workers not the most determined, dedicated people in the region? Who would dare challenge them for being late to work? Imagine what it must be like to go through that five or six days a week, and then do it all over again on the way home, driving into the great abyss of the southwestern night with the sounds of jack hammers still in their heads and a winding river of red tail lights between them and their homes, their dinners, their kids, wives, dogs, (affordable) mortgages and so on.

The central core of Mountain Village is hardly online at this point of the day. It’s 6:30 a.m. in the mountains. The grocery store is closed. Want a cup of coffee? Hah. This is a BYOC deal. The Gondola isn’t running until 7 a.m. Just after the break of day they are streaming in – the construction army – without any greeting (or any alert retail or restaurant venture to exploit their numbers).

The majority of people up and down the other side of the mountain in Telluride can hardly know the extent to which this is going on. It’s like the ant invasion beneath your home, the termites in your attic.

An issue for consideration is, of course, how many of these invisible worker bees, who come and go without being noticed in Happyland down below, are impacting the local environmental footprint, in terms of the daily commuting parade up and down the county’s two-lane highways. Or, how for all of the green thinking go on around here, how much of the construction invasion might be trumping all of the other extremely high-profile and expensive local efforts to save the, hah, planet (or, local eco-bubble).

The other concern would be just what this community is going to do (“community,” as in  those who live here, work here, who are not on vacation here) once the anthill gets all built out (as if there is actually any limit). All of the boffo resort and vacation retreats being built will apparently, someday, need even more employees than construction workers. Hundreds and hundreds of them, and guess what, that will be the next invisible army streaming up the canyons, all because even if housing were provided, they don’t come here to enjoy the view.

They are here to mine. In a sense, Mountain Village is the new mine, one with long-term impacts that are going to be beyond belief, with the punch of a modest downtown for a midsized city on the plains except, in this case, slowly slipping down the hill beneath the weight of all of its polished vanity and spacious glory.

It’s 6:45 a.m. in the mountains of Colorado. Do you know where the future went? It’s walking silently, up hill, puffing hard in hardhats, just hoping for a decent check as the mine whistle blows.

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