05 November 2008

Fun with Big Blue.

So I got into work and we learned that the 16th level of the parking garage where our photovoltaic project took place was reopened. That's great news; it means that the turnover went smoothly and we're good to clear everything out. All our material and the micro-scissorlifts were already taken down and signed off, but we kept Big Blue up there in case we had any last minute changes or problems.

Big Blue is a massive outdoor scissorlift. I'm not sure how high it's capable of going but I think its well over 80 feet, because I'm not a friend of heights and we had to go that high to check out the lamp of one of the light poles. Not cool. But anyway, aside from that, Big Blue has these giant off-roading tires, the platform is immense...I'd say four grown adults could easily lay down on the platform and even roll around a little. And somehow, Big Blue had to make it from the 16th floor of this parking garage down to the first, then down the street to be parked in a safe area for it to be picked up.

It's not a one man job. Three of us in neon safety vests went up there to take care of it: Jeremy controlled the lift from the ground and Sherri and I walked with it, watching for obstructions and traffic. It was a good system. We had to fold Big Blue's rails down because as huge as it was, it couldn't fit under the beams otherwise, and then it did only barely. The thing is, this lift runs on fuel rather than a battery, so it was loud, and we managed to use hand signals, lip-reading, and occasional screaming to communicate; also, it moves very slowly. It's not so much that we walked it down rather than strolled.

We we started moving Big Blue down from 16, it was fine. No traffic. In fact, no real traffic until the 14th or 12th floor. (No 13th, of course.) But as we moved down, not only did traffic become heavier but we were caught about halfway down in shift change, where everyone was apparently late and frantic. The lift was as far over as possible without hitting vehicles and we waved other vehicles past when we could, but we needed the entire space available for turns, and no one wanted to yield to hand signals. They wanted to speed past at 50 mph and thn slam on the brakes when they realised they couldn't fit around us. Yelling, rolling eyes, throwing up hands, honking...in case anyone was wondering, not one of those things work to make a scissorlift go any faster.

So we managed to get all the way down with no incident: we didn't bump any cars, didn't smash into any walls, didn't run over anyone. I nearly got squished twice by cab drivers using cell phones as I stepped into the street to look for traffic as we walked the lift down (against traffic, in the turn lane) to it's designated parking space, for pick up, but it was a great way to spend the first 2 hours of the day. Yes, 2 hours. Did I mention that Big Blue moved slowly?

Final note: I don't care how late you are, trying to run over construction workers won't get you to work any faster. Skip the Starbucks drive-thru and get to work on time to begin with.

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