Construction Dreams

Graphic: Zoe Gelfant

A saw cutting through the sidewalk spins at 2,900 revolutions per minute.

The edge of the 20” blade moves 277.69 kilometres per hour. If a piece of the blade breaks off as I’m walking on the other side of the street and flies into my neck, how quickly do I bleed to death?

It’s a trick question, by the way. That doesn’t happen. But I can’t stop picturing it whenever I’m near one of those machines. I can’t stop picturing all sorts of implausible construction atrocities, actually.

Walking under scaffolding seemingly erected for no reason but to take up sidewalk space? Oh, lets imagine what’ll happen if a section collapses on me!

Biking onto one of those metal panels they put over the holes in the street left from tearing up water mains? What if the panel slides out and I fall into the hole and break all my bones but somehow survive, only to beg for release from the agony that simply doesn’t come?

If a car spins out of control on the wet dirt road of Sherbrooke and flattens me, would I die right away or a few minutes later? Would I feel my ribs punch through my lungs? Would I hear my spine snap? Would I notice the people screaming and crying?

Listen: I’m not actually a neurotic person. It’s just that construction doesn’t do good things to my brain, and that’s an acute issue in our chronically crumbling city.

I know, I know, I should be happy that, thanks to the construction, buildings won’t actually fall on me. Streets are being made safely rideable for my bike. Ugly sidewalks are getting Delightful Granite Inlays. But it’s hard to think positively about the future when construction makes me picture a distinct lack of future.

So, yes, when all of this is done in however many years, the city is going to breathe and give thanks for normal traffic and fewer potholes. I will too. But I’ll also give thanks for not having to picture my bloody corpse and a crane swinging away with my severed head.

I guess it could be worse, though—imagine if the construction never ended?