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This is a question Phobias

What gives you the heebie-jeebies?

It's a bit strong to call this a phobia, but for me it's the thought of biting into a dry flannel. I've no idea why I'd ever want to or even get the opportunity to do so, seeing as I don't own one, but it makes my teeth hurt to think about it. *ewww*

Tell us what innocent things make you go pale, wobbly and send shivers down your spine.

(, Thu 10 Apr 2008, 13:34)
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Construction sites
OK, so perhaps not so much a phobia as just plain flashback-terror...

I’m an architecture student. I still have 2 of the seven years to go, but I think it’s a fair bet that once I finish, visits to construction sites will be a not-unusual occurrence. It’s quite a shame, then, that I am now fucking terrified by the lot of them. Allow me to explain...

Edinburgh uni: starting my undergrad all those years ago. Now, for anyone who’s ever lived in/visited Edinburgh uni Pollock Halls, you’ll know of Chancellor’s Court. For the uninitiated, it was a new building of student rooms within the halls of residence campus. My first year in the uni was the first year it opened and, compared to the other halls around it (of which I was a resident) it became a shining beacon of upper-class nobery. I shit you not when I say Edinburgh Uni is, in actually fact, twinned with Sloan Street. Ok, I shit you a little, but it’s not far off the mark and every single rah-rah 18 year old in tweed with rosy cheeks and a bmw seemed to get grouped into this one building.
Now, for you and me, student halls will conjure up images of sterile but somehow cosy corridors of endless identical doors. Grotty kitchens and every wall coated in that school-toilet paint-fleck stuff that everyone seems to have been expose to. Not Chancellor’s Court.

Here’s a picture of normal halls (the view isn't bad to be fair): http://www.maths.ed.ac.uk/or41/talks_v26t/pollock_04.gif

Here’s a picture of Chancellor’s Court: www.edinburgharchitecture.co.uk/jpgs/pollock_halls_070209_aw01.jpg

Mother. Fucker. This building had it all. Every room an ensuite. Every room a double. Every room with fucking swipe card access and a TV provided. It had its own ‘private’ bar. It had talking lifts. And the best bit? Those corner glass boxes? Those were the communal kitchens. All mod cons and beautiful to boot. Bitter? Not a bit. :/ Anyway, when I was there it was just about to finish construction. I guess it had run over deadline because they filled the finished bits to 40% capacity at a reduced price to recoup some costs while they finished the lower floors.

Cue me and a friend coming back for a few drinks with some relatively normal people we had met out. We had our drinks and shared awkward silences as the others from the corridor discussed who had the most powerful ‘daddy’. *cringes* Right, says I, time to leave. I think it is important at this point to point out that I was wasted. Ok, perhaps not entirely accurate: super-fucked may be a better phrase. Now this building is big and pretty confusing to navigate, so I had to ask for directions to the lift. “Go out the door and turn right, then left, then left again”. Cool. So I go out of the door and turn left. Twat.

I get to a door with stairs beyond. Fuck it, thinks I, it’ll do. So down I go, wobbling all the way as I clumsily try to send a text before my battery dies. I count the floors, 2nd, 1st, ground – ok! I open the fire door and go through, swearing at my phone as it figures out if it’s going to send the text or not. About half a second later I notice that this doesn’t seem like the reception. For a start it’s pretty dark. I look up from my phone and notice the windows. They’re glowing from the lights outside. They still have factory plastic coating on. That seems to be the only light coming in. My gaze wanders around to see an entire open plan basement floor scattered with concrete dust, odd bits of scaffolding and fire extinguishers. Tits. We were drinking on the 1st floor. As I turn, the new high-spec fire door does that annoying new-door thing of slowly gliding shut before suddenly slamming to a close. Grr. Still, at least I didn’t catch my fingers. I turn the handle to open it. The handle doesn’t work. Why? Because there’s a fucking swipe card reader next to it and, as I’m not a resident, my card doesn’t work. I look to my phone just in time to see the power down screen. Arse burgers.

So there I was, locked in a basement level construction site with no phone and getting more drunk every second as the freshers promos started to really hit. I try the windows (the basement was at this stage on a lower-ground floor as landscaping was yet to come). They’re locked to only open 5cm. Left with no option, I open one that far, grab the top edge and jump, putting all my weight on it. *crack* Sorted.
Slipping through the window I reach the soil. Although, this being Edinburgh, it was now a slick of mud and sludge. Inevitably I slip. I slip and I keep on slipping. To say it was only 20m to the edge of the construction site is like saying the burglars from Home Alone only had to go upstairs. Seriously, I think builders spend their evenings setting up traps for any student thick and/or drunk enough to find themselves in a construction site at 4:30 in the morning. You name it, I slipped over it, fell down it, fell into it, broke it, stubbed my toe on it and – in the case of a pile of left over copper cladding – reached out to grab it as I fell and sliced my hand open. After what seemed like an unnecessarily long eternity I got to the edge of the site, only to be greeted by a 9 foot wall. The type with the diagonal timber bracing so you can’t climb it. Well, after many false starts and slippy encounters with near-shitting myself, I reached the top. Only problem was, I hadn’t really figured out what to do once I got that far. So I jumped down. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a drunk, mud-covered student jump from a 9ft wall. It’s not graceful. I started the motion of leaping then decided against it midway, turning around sharpish. Unfortunately, the first stage in jumping was to let go of the fence. Hence the cartoon-esque mid-air twist, clamber, wall/face drag then spine crunch as I hit the pavement. Luckily I was too drunk to feel all the pain, but I still have a lump on my lower back from that.

Finally I had made it. Just one humiliation left as I got back to my corridor and tumbled into a friend’s room. There was everyone – including the guy I had left in Chancellor’s Court about half an hour ago – all sitting warm and comfortable. As I opened the door they all turned from their film to look up at me: at this stage propping myself up on the wall, so drunk I was dribbling spit down my chin, leaving a smear trail of blood on the paint-fleck wall as I slowly slid forward, caked head to toe in a predator-style mud/concrete dust combo, and with window-coating plastic wrapped around my shoes mumbling something about ‘fucking copper’.

Now every time I go on site I can’t help but count the exits and plan the best escape route. This does not usually involve a 9 foot wall.
(, Sat 12 Apr 2008, 7:51, 1 reply)
you poor bastard that sounds like an ordeal!
(, Sat 12 Apr 2008, 12:31, closed)

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