The first time I heard the word backhoe I was a teenager and had a distorted knowledge of the world so I misunderstood what a backhoe really was. All I knew was one of our neighbors rented backhoes even though he was happily married. Eventually, I saw what real backhoes looked like and that was the start of my fascination with the backhoe. That boyish fascination continues up to today.
A backhoe is a notorious creature in Trinidad and Tobago and became infamous for causing long lines of traffic on back roads and highways. With its jiggly digger, a backhoe at maximum speed is frightening and unstable at best. Maybe in the sixties a backhoe was considered a fast moving and steady vehicle, but by today’s standards for reckless driving and endangering life and limb of the innocent, a maximum speed 30 km/h on the highways shouldn’t be tolerated. I dislike backhoes for this reason but I dislike backhoes even more because WASA has adopted the backhoe, along with the jackhammer and incompetence, as their main weapons for the mass destruction of roads.
But backhoes are not all bad and when in action a backhoe can be a joy to watch. To see a bright yellow backhoe skillfully place its digger into the earth and carve a trench that signifies the start of a new pothole can only be matched by seeing dump-trucks offload gravel in the middle of a road in a residential area, then speed off.
Despite its bad reputation, humans are fascinated by backhoes probably because backhoes share some human characteristics such as they can be useful at both ends. Like people, backhoes are also unstable when handled incorrectly and are prone to blowing a hose if the ground is too hard. That is where the jackhammer comes in, I suppose. In some construction catalogues a backhoe is also called a rear actor or back actor which has been know to be confused with actors from a certain misunderstood, but highly appreciated, segment to the movie industry. Now that The Joker is out of the way I think Batman’s next villain would be The Backhoe. Maybe the backhoe has been unfairly vilified by us humans but I am still certain I do not want to return as a backhoe in my next life.