Until recently, I have felt like a lone matronly scold in the construction classroom, forever admonishing my young male classmates about forgetting to wear protective glasses. According to OSHA, our textbooks, and ubiquitous signage throughout school, safety glasses are de rigueur. But for some reason, my younger classmates take the matter pretty lightly, staring straight at the table saw and firing off nail guns sans spectacles.
(They are not my children, I remind myself. Though they could be. The math works. Heavy sigh.)
Meanwhile, I’m obsessively double-glazed, my own astigmatic tortoiseshell frames layered with protective goggles approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
When another woman recently joined our class, she and I united in a small, shrill choir of optical vigilance, chanting a relentless refrain: “Where are your safety glasses?”
But that all changed today, when representatives from a large construction-demolition firm stopped by to visit the college of applied technology and to invite members of our Building Construction Technology program to apply for work-study positions. The guests brought applications and made an impromptu presentation about the importance of being on time, staying in school, and—wait for it—respecting safety guidelines. The female member of the pair, in particular, remarked about the importance of protective eyewear on a job site.
Sing it, sister! This woman, about my age, has lived long enough to know how many things there are in the world to worry about.
My young classmates, normally so cavalier with their eyeballs—when they’re not rolling them at me—suddenly goggled up and were on best behavior in front of the potential employers.
Ironically, it was my fellow safety hawk who lacked the proper gear. Having just arrived in the room, she had not yet lowered her shades onto her eyes. In a role reversal I never thought I’d see, one of the perennially carefree no-glasses guys turned to her and whispered with audible annoyance, “Hey, can you do me a favor and put your eyewear on? I’m trying to get a job here.”