SW Michigan Woman Hangs Off of 30 Story Buildings Professionally
Our listeners really are incredible people.
It was a few weeks ago that we were asking our Question of the Day on the morning show. I believe the question was something like...describe your profession poorly. Then, Dana and I would try to take a guess.
That's when we got a response from Christine. Unfortunately, I didn't save her response but it was confusing enough that I had to ask, "Okay...what is it that you do?" It turns out she's a glazier. One of only 3 women glaziers in the state of Michigan and the only one in SW Michigan.
As a woman who loves stories about amazing women I was intrigued.
What in the world is a glazier?
First, let's go over what a glazier is. A glazier is a tradesman (or woman) who is responsible for cutting, installing and removing glass on a building. Now, that may not seem like a big deal until you realize that sometimes these glaziers are 20 or 30 stories in the air, on the outside of the building. At this point, I HAD to know more. I reached out to Christine who, graciously, agreed to speak with me during her lunch break at work.
I expected it to be a 10 minute conversation about a profession I had never heard of. Instead, I found myself captivated by Christine's story with a conversation that lasted over 30 minutes.
How did she get into the field?
I asked Christine the basic question, "How in the world did you find yourself in the field of construction, hanging off of buildings while installing glass?" She said that her boyfriend is the one who got her interested. She said, "We grew up together. His dad was a glazier his whole life which led my boyfriend to get into it too. He kept insisting that I would love it and eventually I listened. He was right." Christine emphasized repeatedly how much she absolutely loves this job.
She went on to say that she had zero experience before she started and that her past experience is with restaurant work. But, clearly, she's found something she was meant to do. At least, that was my impression.
"I have to know," I said, "what's the highest that you've been while installing glass?" Her answer? Thirty stories. To give you a reference, 30 stories is roughly 300 to 360 feet high depending on the height of the interior rooms. At least that's what a quick internet search told me. While expressing my awe at that height Christine revealed that on her first day on the job, her very first day, she was put to work on a 20 story building.
She said it went okay. She felt a bit queasy especially during the first week. They stand on a board to install the glass which moves with the wind. Just thinking about that gives me a few butterflies in my stomach.
To give you a reference to how high they might be while installing glass here's Christine's partner casually taking a selfie from a rooftop:
Continuing our conversation, this is when Christine opened up a bit more about her past.
Rebuilding after struggling in the past:
Like so many, Christine fought a drug addiction for a long time. Something that was only exasperated by the loss of her father in her 20's. As someone who also lost my father in my 20's, I understand the debilitating grief that has the capability of encompassing your entire life. She told me she did okay for a while after the passing of her father but fell back into addiction even harder. That eventually led to her "facing her consequences" as she put it with a stint in jail. But, she insisted that jail time saved her life.
"I learned a lot. Did the programs and got a better attitude," she said. Christine continued with, "I lost everything. And this is the rebuilding of my life." It is absolutely incredible what we, as humans, can pick ourselves up from. And I'm honored that Christine felt comfortable enough to share that part of her life with me.
How she navigates a male dominated field:
Especially in construction, I can imagine that being the only woman on your team has to have its set of challenges. I asked Christine how she copes. She said, "I pull my own weight and call out the guys when I need to should they make any sort of comments." Plain and simple. I love it.
What does she like to do for fun?
I'm always looking for new ideas of fun things to do around town so, I asked. Christine said she loves bowling, planting flowers and working on cars. She went on to say,
working on cars was something my dad was good and spent a lot of time doing. So to spend time with him, I would go hang out in the garage and if I was in the garage I had to be working. So I payed attention.
That certainly has come in handy. She revealed that she was able to repair the entire front end of her car, on her own, after an unfortunate run-in with a deer.
What should someone do if they're interested in becoming a glazier?
Christine recommended getting with your local union rep and go from there. As a reminder, Christine had no previous experience when she started her job. They trained her and continue to train her as she continues to level up. It could be the same for you. But, the first step is calling that local union rep.
Again, thank you so much to Christine for not only taking the time to give me an insight into a field I previously had no knowledge of but for being so open with me about her life. Now, every time I see someone hanging off a 30 story building installing glass I'll be thinking of you.