I May Be Old, but at Least I'm Not Accurate

By Thomas Woodsmall, PLS

In the last five to six years, we in the survey field have been … let’s see how to put this delicately … free of insect bites and ticks, warm and dry, depressed, and disgusted, and we have had to attempt creative ways to pay the bills.

But, as the economy improves, hope has begun to stir, so in an attempt to get my creative juices back, I have written this article. Although I’ve been quiet in PSM for the last few years, I want to assure you that I’ve been keeping busy with new ventures, like laundry, grocery shopping, chauffeuring our son, helping with homework, etc. Unfortunately, regardless of the tasks I undertook, a familiar saying still rings true: I may be old, but at least I’m not accurate. Can someone explain to me why it was wrong to send my son to school with a mustard and peanut butter sandwich?

You might not have been surveying in the last five years if:
  1. You look so despondent, the bell ringer at the Salvation Army gives you money.
  2. The TV show Hoarders has approached you to be on an episode because you have to crawl over stakes, instruments, tripods, rods, hubs, and …
  3. You drive a pickup truck with the name of your survey company marked out with a black magic marker, and you don’t care that it looks like crap.
  4. Now you are the out-of-work brother-in-law whom most of the family avoids.
  5. Your neighbors are scared of you because you walk around the yard with a machete in your hand trying to kill carpenter bees.
  6. You’re so depressed you can’t get up the gumption to take the wheels off of your new (used) mobile home that you live in behind your “momma-and-them.”
  7. When your wife requests you move your old survey equipment elsewhere, you start yelling about how valuable it is and that one day you can sell it and retire. To which your wife replies, “I know … I know.” Then, she turns to one of the children and whispers, “Go get your dad’s medicine before he spontaneously combusts.”
  8. The new phrase you speak several times a day now is, “Welcome to Walmart!” Then, when the person you’re addressing pauses to get a shopping cart, you tell them all about your former job and the scars on your thighs and rump from swinging a wild machete. (I suggest not trying to show them your scars. Shoppers tend to sprint away, and apparently their reaction will cause you to have to reenter the unemployment line.)
  9. You’re moved to tears every time you see a rebar.
  10. The only thing you’ve grilled for the last few years is squirrel.

But, as I mentioned earlier, the economy is improving, so …

You might have gone back to surveying in the last few months if:
 
  1. You’re so giddy about getting up and heading to the field that you forget to change out of your pajamas (which you may have been in for the last two years).
  2. You see a tick crawling on your arm, and a tear comes to your eye, and you quietly whisper, “I’ve missed you little buddy.”
  3. You’ve taken sandpaper to your truck to get rid of the magic marker lines (see #3 on previous list).
  4. For the first time in years, your wife catches poison ivy from taking your jeans to the laundry room. (And you’re no longer the laundry fairy!)
  5. You are head high while lost in kudzu and you’re so happy!
  6. It’s been so long since you’ve had to squat in the woods, you lose your balance and fall back in … never mind. (Hey, that one just slipped out, sorry.)
  7. You had no idea that McDonald’s now serves lattes, and you’re unsure what that is.
  8. You call up your competitor and yell, “The feud is back because I’m back, baby!”
  9. You forgot what GPS stands for and realize it when your new boss looks at you funny because you said, “This Global Payment System thingy’s battery has died.”
  10. As you head out the door to go to work you yell, “I’m going to work! But I’ll be back, baby!” And you overhear your wife saying to the children, “Hurry, kids, go lock the doors!”

I have to confess, I have still been surveying for the last few years. The work landscape is quite different, though, than before the Great Recession. I’m now the rodman, party chief, drafter, survey manager, janitor, and maintenance man. I’m so lonely in the woods while surveying, I’ve named my robot Helga and my GPS unit Hezzi, (which is short for Hezekiah).

The strange thing about this arrangement is that when I start yelling at the rodman, I get my feelings hurt.

Tommy Woodsmall is a registered land surveyor in Georgia and is the director of land surveying for Blue Landworks in Suwanee, Georgia (bluelandworks.com), where he works with two partners, both engineers, providing impeccable engineering and surveying services.

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