Yesterday my boss sent a coworker and me out to retrofit an apartment building in the city. Whoever made the building had all the emergency exit doors in the stairwell swing in, instead of out. Pretty poor design actually, so we had to go in and tear out the doorframes and really re-do a lot to make those doors swing outward and get everything up to code. My buddy and I get near finished with the service stairwell in the back of the building, when a middle-aged woman steps into the stairwell. I said to her, “Oh hey, we’re working in here and some of these walls have plaster mud on them that’s still wet, you might want to go down a different stairwell.”
Just to get you up to speed, a lot of buildings these days use drywall for walls. It’s relatively simple, clean, and less labor intensive to install. Another option, which is the status quo on many older buildings, is plaster. To fix plaster cracks or for retrofitting where you need to destroy some (like in our case of putting in new doors and door frames), getting the wall plastered requires mixing a powder with water and applying this to the wall. It’s a bit messier and can be argued to require more skill than straight drywall. And just like after concrete is poured and needs time dry before it can be used, plaster also needs time to dry before it can be touched.
In this particular apartment community full of what I consider to be somewhat high-maintenance people, there were many other stairwell and elevator options. But this woman looked at me and then at my buddy with that look people get of, “I’m a tenant here, you can’t tell me what to do!” And she came down the stairwell anyway. My buddy and I moved out of her way but the joke ended up being on her though because as she went down the stairs she rubbed against the wall and got fresh plaster all down the side of her clothes!