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Too Much Concrete

August 23, 2015

This happened many years ago, when I was just a boy, when I believed that my father knew everything.  He wanted to build a patio floor, from poured concrete,  in the back yard.  He gave me the task of preparing the site.  I dug out the area, levelled it off, and put in the forms.  I’d never done that before, but it seemed pretty simple to me.

Then he asked me to calculate the amount of concrete that we needed.  That seemed pretty simple too.  I measured the size of the form and the depth.  It worked out to just under one cubic yard.  When I told my father that, he said that he would order a yard and a half, just to be safe.  He knew everything.  I was a little worried.

The patio was to go in our back yard, next to the garage.  Our yard was separated from the back street by a stone wall.  The patio was close to the stone wall too.  When the truck arrived, we asked the driver if he could pour the concrete over the wall.  “No problem”, said the driver.  He set up his chutes, and began dumping it into our new patio.  We were spreading it with rakes and shovels.  The concrete kept coming.  Pretty soon it was way over the top of the forms.  “Stop”, we yelled.  The driver stopped the flow.  “Where should I put the rest of it?”, asked the driver.  “Dump it outside the wall”, was all we could say.  The driver was satisfied with that.  He dumped it there, and drove away.

We had a problem.  The concrete was setting quickly.  We were supposed to be smoothing it off at that point, but it was way too high.  We had to get it down to the forms somehow first.  We had to shovel it away as quickly as possible.  Wet concrete is really heavy!  We tried shoveling it over the wall, but gave up that idea after two tries.  Instead, we built a pile of concrete inside the yard, racing against time.  Wet concrete is really heavy!  It was exhausting work, but we finally got it down to the top of the form.  My father asked me to make the pile more attractive.  We sure weren’t going to move it.  “Make it into a bird bath”, he suggested.

We did get a patio floor, although one that was not very smooth on top.  We also had a big pile along side it, a pile that just might have been a bird bath.  I learned a few lessons too.  Never doing that again was the big one.  I also learned that my father didn’t know everything, and that I sometimes had a better way of doing things.


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