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December 29, 2011

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if I was a quality finish carpenter? I likely wouldn't be writing this editorial, instead finding myself in a workshop somewhere building a masterpiece. Unfortunately (many readers will agree with that word usage) I'm here today because I am the world's worst wood worker.

I'm so bad (insert the crowd asking how bad are you...) that they try to cover my ears during announcements about work nights at the fire station or the church. I'm so bad, my family held an intervention and confiscated all my power tools. It's so bad, they put my tape measure and screwdriver in one of those fireproof, mini gun safes with a 10 digit security code and a thumb print recognition key that I can only access once a month. When I am allowed to help build, I'm sure productivity numbers dwindle, as my co-workers generally spend as much time fixing my mistakes, not to mention balled over in laughter at my comical efforts to be a builder.

After a recent episode, I may not even warrant a post on the laborer workforce. A huge load of drywall arrived and volunteers were needed to help unload at the church. After years of sitting at a desk getting into shape, I lasted about two trips from the truck to the other end of the church with the two packs of 4x12 5/8 inch thick sheet rock for the ceiling.

Not smart enough to know I was beat, I got in line for a third trip. It gets fuzzy after that. I made one or two more efforts before I blacked out from the combination of lack of oxygen and searing pain in all my body parts.

Okay, that may be a bit overdramatic, but I was so whipped by the work, that I risked the ridicule of my coworkers, and bowed out before the job was done. My truck tried to stir itself to the emergency room, but I made it home instead, and made it to the couch, where I think I finally caught my breath a half hour or so after the last load of drywall was toted.

Talk about humbling - not to mention painful. So I can't build, and now I can't even help transport the materials to the job site.

Needless to say, the bulk of the time I get involved in a project, my skill set relegates me to the demolition squad.

It makes sense. Tearing something down is much easier. All you have to do is find a little crack or a fault, insert your pry bar and throw all your weight on it until something breaks lose. Don't get me wrong, there definitely are plenty of skilled demolition workers that are experts on imploding, exploding and all sorts of other methods of crushing the obstacle. Years of honing their skills have produced masters of the trade who can press one button and forever alter your landscape.

Most of my de-construction projects have been projects involving removal of a layer of shingles, carpet, flooring or rooms to allow the installation of new and improved facilities. When you look at it as clearing the way for progress, it's not so bad. Or perhaps, a structure has become unsafe and must be brought down for security reasons.

Of course there are lots of motives for demolition. Perhaps you covet pieces of the construction material to be removed and used in building your own project.

Maybe you want a better view of the skyline, so you tear down that neighboring building. Now passersby have an unobstructed view of the property to better admire your own masterpiece without any distractions.

Perhaps the demolition is a mode of eliminating the competition. If you put up that new fancy birdhouse, yet your feathered friends still prefer to gather on that old, dilapidated roost, it might drive you to remove the rival.

I think for some folks, they simply like to see that pile of rubble and know they were the ones who wielded the power that brought the house down.

Regardless, after a hard day's work there is a sense of accomplishment. Still I think I'd much rather be part of building something that others can appreciate, instead of tearing something down. Guess that's why I still try to figure out that security code on the tool safe and continue to take my stand-up comic act to the worksites. I think I'd much rather be a failed builder than a master demolitionist.

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