For the desk-bound worker, Beth Hubbard's job might sound divine.

Fresh air. Sunshine.

"Yeah, it's great being outdoors," said Hubbard, a pile driver. "But the flip side is when it's 105 degrees or pouring rain."

It was the latter in December and January when 46-year-old Hubbard worked on a crew dismantling a supply trestle from beneath the new Bay Bridge.

Carbon arc welding and water don't mix, she said. If the welder is wet when she strikes an arc, it delivers a nasty shock. Wear waterproof clothing and the sparks melt your rain gear.

But every occupation has its sparks. Not every job has a 360-degree view of San Francisco Bay.

"For years, we've had this old trestle thing on the east side that didn't hold up to the earthquake and now we have this beautiful suspension bridge," Hubbard said. "I think we outdid San Francisco."

The daughter of a San Francisco firefighter, Hubbard began as a carpenter but switched after she saw pile drivers in action in the mid-1990s.

She has seen her share of bad male behavior but times have changed for the better and she credits her union for nurturing women.

In the end, though, what matters is doing the job.

"I'm not a woman or man at work, I'm a pile driver," Hubbard said.

-- Lisa Vorderbrueggen


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BETH HUBBARD
Job: Pile driver, welder, dive tender and rigger for 16 years with the Pile Drivers, Divers, Bridge, Wharf and Dock Builders Local 34 in Oakland
Age: 46
Residence: Walnut Creek
Bay Bridge work: She helped remove a steel trestle from beneath the span that was no longer needed, and she worked on skyway as a welder and fabricator.
Advice: "Don't let what you have heard in the past influence you. Not only have the people changed but the job has changed. We have equipment to do what used to require brute strength. If you are willing to get in there and do the work, the people in the trades are more than willing to take you in and teach you what you need to know."