top of page

Stories From The Field





Since I was only 21 years old I have had the extreme pleasure of being in the Surveying field. I am a Residential Boundary Surveyor  in Northeast Illinois. Like most people in my field I started as an Assistant, commonly known in the field as a Rod man. At 24 years old I began training to be a Crew Chief and officially changed my job title to Crew Chief at 25 years old. Thats 2005, The year after I was married and the year I welcomed my first son into this world.



Like I said in the first sentence, I love my job. It is a perfect mix of Art and Math. My work requires a quick mind, able to interpret and calculate numbers on the field. It also requires an artistic eye. Half of my job requires me to sketch out and measure everything I see within property lines. The part I enjoy most about my job however is the constant change in scenery.



The majority of my job requires me to travel from site to site. On any given day I travel to upwards of 7 sites, not always in the same city either. I have estimated the numbers of individual jobs I have done since I took the clipboard some ten years ago to be into the 15,000 number. I have traveled the entire Northeast Illinois. From The Wisconsin border to the Indiana border. From the lake to the Fox River. Any city that can be remotely considered to be a suburb of Chicago, I have surveyed.



Being in the field for so long and changing scenery so often can give a person a wonderful chance to experience new things and speak to new people. It also creates a fantastic environment for all sorts of different experiences and encounters. I want to now share some of these encounters with my readers. I want to attempt to let you see through my eyes. Everything from transactions I have had with people, running from stray dangerous dogs…..and other animals, fleeing sites because of gunshots and gang activity, confrontations with the local police, falling into rivers and lakes or just random events that provoked me to write about it.


 I am going to have to warn you though that some of my encounters may seem farfetched, some so much that I end up using some variation of the real life stories in my fictional story “Plumb it Up” but I assure you that every story I will share in this series will be absolutely true. I will not change a thing in these stories. To be honest, there is no reason for me to change anything I write about in this series. After being in this field for 15 years, I’ve learned that there is nothing more entertaining than real life. There is always something going on in the Chicagoland area so finding inspiration is only one job site away.

These are my Stories from the Field.  

"Truth be told, I'm not fine." He says. "See, my sister passed yesterday. I'm here clearing some things out of the house."


I turned to look at him.  " I'm very sorry to hear that sir. Seems like this year has taken a lot from everyone"  I respond to him.

   He leans against his porch and stares out into the cold. " All my siblings are over at the house and want me to come over. I'm the oldest. I'm 73 years old. I can't go over there. They're doing their crying and I can't be doing that." He says.

Driving down an alley in the west side, I pass by a woman standing next to a smoking garbage can.

"What the hell is that lady doing? " I say to my partner.


"Is she starting a fire?" I ask him again, th which he replies that he's not sure.


I begin to back up and she quickly notices and begins to attempt to hide. As I approached her, I came upon an interesting dialogue




 When I turned it over I found four Wedding photos. What must have happened that these memories were left behind and thrown to the curb? Something happened to the smiling faces and joyful characters that occupied these photos. The owner of this time capsule must have found too much pain in this relic to not only leave it behind but to allow it to be discarded as it was.

When her husband showed up he also looked pale and tired. His body was slow and sunken. Long night indeed. Their yard was messy and unkempt. Their walkway had not been shoveled and the dog crap had not been cleaned up in weeks.


After the job, I quipped to my partner about how drug addicts all looked the same and had the same tells. I spoke freely from experience having been an addict myself as a youth. Anyways, We both laughed and continued on our days.


 Then things got physical. The wife of the man didn't want the old lady's dog sniffing her dog's ass anymore.  "How dare you!"  She swings her leg and kicks the neighbors dog! The old lady Is out of her mind. "Who the hell are you to touch my dog!? I'm calling the cops!"  She yells! "Fucking white trash! You're not even from this neighborhood!"


 Now, as she is trying to get her dog she gets tangled in the couples leashes. She screams that the dogs are trying to get at her, then she swings her arm and hits one of the couples dogs on the body.


Silence fell on the duo of surveyors. We finished the job with almost nothing said to one another. The heartbreaking episode we had just experienced, having also been high, making the empathy that much more worse, caused a serious time of reflection between us two. Lesser men, may have cried but the level of machismo shared between us on any regular day prevented us both from letting out any outburst of raw emotion, though we both knew each other had been affected by the unfortunate event.  We sat back in our car and began driving to the next job, only breaking the silence once.


"Buddah, I've never seen any barbarian shit like that before in my life," Mario said.

I wish I could say everything went smoothly at the hospital. I wish I could say that. I get there and go to the front counter where I explained to the ladies the situation. After suffering through their phony looks of empathetic distress but noticing in their eyes the sure riot of laughter going on in their heads, I was escorted into the examination room.

"Who do you guys think you are digging that hole!?" He shouts again angrily.


I turn to look at him and roll my eyes a bit. "Here we go again" I thought. As I looked at my partner returning from the assignment I sent him on, I can tell he thought the same thing. I began to attempt to explain how my job was done when the old man did something I did not expect, he laughed. I was confused.

bottom of page