BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Article Title

The Work of Their Hands


Taylor Cozzens


Mormon studies, personal essay, work


When I turned eighteen, I took a job as a laborer for a construction company that was building dormitories on a university campus in High Point, North Carolina. It was a new world for me, one of mud, concrete, and rebar. The Lulls, excavators, and flatbeds crawled around the job site, engines roaring, back-up beepers blaring. Meanwhile, the chop saws competed with the quickie saws to see which could scream the loudest as they sliced through wood, metal, and concrete. I soon came to know the tingling in the fingers after using a Sawzall and the smell of hot metal after using a grinder. I became more than familiar with brooms and shovels and with the aches that come from lifting and carrying for hours on end. Blowing my nose yielded black and brown contents, and the Port-a-John disposal tanker was always a welcome site. Perhaps the most defining trait of this new world was the workers: the hardy, dexterous, Spanish-speaking workers.