Old Friend

I had the fortune this past week of running into an old friend, one I hadn’t seen in awhile. To be honest, it had probably been at least three or four years since we had seen each other last.

It's always a happy thing when work brings you face to face with an old friend!

We happened to bump into each other at, of all places, a job site. It was a park project I had worked on a number of years ago, but because of the local economic conditions, the plans had been put on the shelf until things improved and money could be raised for construction.

In the meantime, I had left the landscape architecture industry and become an environmental planner. After a number of years away, I decided to return to the landscape architecture field and am now working for a firm that helped design the park project.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up at the job site and I ran into my old friend!

We spent the better part of an hour checking on the project and the contractor’s workmanship. We found a few items that needed correction and made notes to add to our report later. While we walked around the project and spoke with the contractors about the design, we listened to their experiences with the installation and suggestions for improvements on future designs.

This is something I always look forward to when it comes to the construction observation portion of my job. I think it’s important to learn what works well in the field and what does not. Not only does it make the contractor’s job easier, I think it makes us better designers in the long run.

As the morning wore on and my friend and I waited for other consultants to arrive, we spent some time catching up on how our careers had led us in different directions and what we each had been doing in the time apart.

We talked about the joys and frustrations we felt while working on past projects. Some were small projects that were quick to design, while others were large and took upward of two to three years to finish.

We reminisced about spending a few “all nighters” in the studio and how good it felt to get a call from the client the next day thanking us for our hard work. We joked about the senior landscape architects who rode us pretty hard in the early days and always marked up our designs with red pens after we had finished them for the third time thinking they were perfect. Wasn’t anything ever good enough for them?

Looking back, we both agreed that it was all for our own good and helped us become better at what we do.

Before we knew it, it was time to wrap things up and head back to the office to finish our reports. As we shook hands and parted ways, we both made the other promise we wouldn’t wait so long until we meet again.

I’ll never forget the way he chided me and said, “Boyd, don’t be such a stranger next time. It’s OK to come around once in awhile.”

As I walked back to my car and put my hard hat in the trunk, I thought to myself, “Gratification, my good friend, it was sure good to run into you today.”

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com