Steve Farris controls one of Buckhead's abundant tower cranes. Perched 300 feet in the air for 10 to 12 hours at a time, the 30-year-old endures danger and bottling his urine to build Atlanta's high-rises and elevate Atlanta's image.
"There's a lot of stress on me. Everyone within my [crane's] reach, I hold their life in my hands. The people I work with don't realize how easy it is for me to kill them."
Farris takes a DVD player and a GameCube into the cab in case he has free time, which he currently doesn't. He's heard of other operators taking refrigerators, microwaves, wives and "not wives" into the crane.
Farris is known on construction sites by his nickname, Shotgun. It was given to him by his now-father-in-law after Farris sired his granddaughter and married his daughter, in that order. Since his father-in-law was also the one who got Farris into the crane-operating business, the handle stuck in Farris' construction life.
"I don't mind [the nickname] at all. There are some people on the job site I don't want to know my real name. It helps me separate work and home."
There's no time for bathroom breaks, so Farris urinates into a bottle: "You're left to your own devices. If you have to poop, good luck."
His brother-in-law, also a tower-crane operator, says their experience has given them exceptional timing and restraint.
Farris' crane has a barbed-wire fence around its base to dissuade Atlanta's infamous crane-sitters. He isn't sure why people climb cranes. "Maybe because they're like you. They're just interested."
He takes almost no time off. "Right now it's pretty much straight into the next job. I don't know if you've noticed, but there are a lot of these [cranes] up in Atlanta right now."
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