Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Profile: Steve Farris, tower-crane operator

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2007 at 1:00 PM

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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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