Disclaimer – don’t actually do any of this stuff (but it is the kind of thing to expect on a building site)
1. Don’t worry about where you put anything. There is officially no official place to leave equipment; in fact, you’ll spend 60% of your time, running around looking for a bucket for mortar
2. If you worry about health & safety people will either presume you are a some kind of snob or an aristocrat.
It is common for brickies to leave bricks for example, standing upright, on the edge of walls above you and it is also common practice to leave as much crap as possible, including packaging, broken bricks and cable ties strewn across the scaffolding for people to trip over
3. Say “f*cking” every other word
4. Establish yourself as the alpha male as soon as possible by being the first to take your top off at any glimpse of sunshine, and by shouting the loudest during the ‘banter’
5. Eat pies & pasties, smoke 20 cigarettes per break, and then tell the middle-class guy that his hemp protein powder is bad for him and going to destroy his kidneys. In fact, being a builder gives you superior knowledge and life-experience, so be sure to put across your strong opinions on nutrition, education and politics 🙂
6. If the boss tells you off, just say “I’m really sorry la, won’t do it again”. He will love you forever as most apprentices can not take feedback at all (feedback = getting a bollocking).
7. Lift exclusively with your back. People who lift with their legs are also presumed a ‘posh bellend’
8. At break, talk about how hard your mates are, and smoke just inside the door of the portacabin to ensure that it is completely ‘hotboxed’ with tobacco.
It’s important that you are seen either smoking, or using a gambling app on your phone.
9. If you don’t smoke, it is assumed that you are some kind of shifty bugger
10. Never ask anyone’s name, or introduce yourself; it’s just not done. Call the person “la” and “mate” until you know their life story and it’s too awkward to ask their name
11. If the boss ever has to go off site somewhere, stop all work immediately
12. Once you are an established brickie, it is important to remove your hard-hat whenever the site manager is out of sight
13. Try and pretend you’re interested when the older brickies tell you stories about hod carrying, and saying stuff like “when I was your age…” and “you don’t know you’re born kid”; whatever that means
14. Pay someone to spread a rumour that you once killed a gorilla with an uppercut. Or something similar. This will make you less of a target for pranks and the high-brow banter
15. Stop watching documentaries and QI, and make sure your ‘read’ the Daily Sport and Star, just so you can hold a conversation with one of your associates. It is crucial that you hold aggressive right-wing opinions that are reliably informed by tabloid newspapers.
16. Be grateful for being given a chance. Many people, in many types of work, never get chance to put their qualifications into practice
17. “Bucket of sh!te” = bucket of mortar
18. Energy drinks are compulsory for under 35s. If you don’t have an energy drink and 5 cigarettes in the morning, you’ll be deemed an outsider.
19. “Customer Service” is not a known term. Once the job’s done, it’s done.
20. Always rub your chin 3 times before quoting a price
21. Aggression is the go-to emotional state for any good tradesman, whenever conflict, misunderstanding or frustration occur. The more aggressive you are, the better tradesman you become
22. Passing the buck is an art form on the building site. Just don’t expect anyone to know what ‘passing the buck’ actually means.
23. Crack open a can of beer as soon as you get in the car to drive home*
*Don’t actually do this. Although this did happen regularly when I was lift-sharing
A lot of the youngsters that I worked with were incredibly defensive. If you can be humble, say sorry and that you’ll do that or try harder next time, you will stand out a mile as a good worker. If you actually do some work as well. Try and get the punters/customers to like you as well by smiling and being polite. Again you will stand out a mile.