Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hammers and Hardware: "I'm Having Work Done..."

As I continue to head toward my career goal, and do my best to find alternative work in the job market, I will write about my construction/home improvement experiences, in posts that will be titled, “Hammers and Hardware.”

One of the most generic sounds when it comes to having work done on your house is that of the pounding of a hammer. It is loud, outside routine, and apparently, the perfect topic for a phone call.

I've met a lot of people in this line of work, from all over the social class spectrum, across all races, genders, political affiliations, ages, etc. Basically, I've worked for every generalized kind of person there is.

Yet they all have one thing in common. They're all "having work done."

And it's the perfect topic for a phone call.

The first time I ever worked with my father (starting during summers in middle school) I noticed how excited people were to talk about "having work done" on their houses. Who can blame them? Having work done on your house -even down to a simple change in paint color in a room- is like getting a whole new house so to speak. It's a change, a face-lift, remodeling, a fresh start. It was what they saw on TV.

But now it's happening to them.

And it doesn't matter whether we're up on ladders, working on trim, putting in new windows, framing out walls... the homeowner will always happen to venture by with a smile, a phone against their ear, and the words "I'm having work done" emanating from their mouths.

The sentences may vary, but the effect remains the same.

"I'm having work done on my house this week." "I'm having work done in the living room." "I'm having work done on the roof." "I'm having work done in the downstairs spare bathroom that nobody ever uses except during every other Christmas."

Sometimes, the homeowner will call someone up just to let that someone know that work is being done. "I know we haven't talked in months, but I've got to tell you, I'm having work done."

Once, a customer walked into a room we were framing out while on the phone -I swear- just to be able to say, "I'm sorry. I can't hear you. I'm having work done. Could you repeat that?"

Another customer came in so often on the phone to talk about having work done, I started keeping count, but then lost count because it happened so many times. Either the same person was getting the same "I'm having work done" sentence repeated, or the homeowner had called up everyone listed in their cell phone to tell.

Or maybe the Yellow Pages.

Once, a customer stood on their stoop to tell every neighbor that passed by that work was being done on their house.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mind it at all. I think it's cool for people to be able to tell family and friends that they're having work done.

But when you walk into a room full of hammers striking nails on pine, on the phone, and apologize because you can't hear the person on the other end, I know what you're up to. If you need me to hammer louder, just ask.

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