We’ve had both an electrician and a carpenter working in our home this week; early next week comes the plumber. Both have been very professional; both have known exactly what they’re doing. All we’ve done is try to stay out of their way, which has been as much of a challenge as anything.
Let me make a confession: no intellectual, theological, or spiritual teacher even comes close to intimidating me as much as a man gifted in the mechanical, technical, and vocational arts does. I am not worthy. I am so not worthy.
Bob (and his son, Jason) spent a day-and-a-half addressing our electric needs – everything from rewiring old and exposed knob-and-tube wiring to putting in ventilation fans in the bathrooms to running power to places we needed it to replacing the out-of-date fusebox with an up-to-code circuit board. Maybe it’s the risk involved (i.e. taming electricity for a living) or the fact that all the parts are new and shiny, but I was impressed with their work, especially since it looks to come in under budget.
Dave is a general contractor with a great sense of humor who is building a huge wall of built-in bookshelves for us in the front room. Though he says the key to any good construction/repair job is having good tools, I reminded him someone has to have the knowledge to use them (at which my 7-year-old – who loves helping on projects of any kind – smiled and tried to hold back a laugh, as she knows Daddy has neither). Dave says he knows us “book guys” on sight, and reminded me that new bookshelves tend to attract more books. I told him that meant job security for him. He laughed.
Bob and Dave remind me of Tubal-Cain, who the Bible records in Genesis 4 as being “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (and who must have been pretty handy with them as well). I make the joke that the only thing I can do with a tool is lose it; these guys have great tools, sure, but the way they handle them is an art, as is their creativity in making needed repairs to an 88-year-old house. It’s fascinating to watch (which we all did yesterday while Dave started installing bookshelves), not to mention inspiring as well.
In fact, after Bob installed the special outlet for our electric dryer, I was so inspired that I attempted to switch out the previous owners’ washer and dryer (which we had been using) with our more energy efficient pair. It took over an hour, flooded a third of the basement, and (as is always par for the course with me) required doing everything twice to get it right, but I did it. I even remembered to turn off the gas so the house wouldn’t explode. I’ve been doing laundry non-stop ever since, I’m so proud.
When we lived in Colorado, my friend Derek was just as gifted as any professional: he could fix anything (only he never charged us for it). When “we” were working on a project, about the only thing I was good for (other than providing a cold beverage and some classic rock) was cleaning up the mess, which I usually did real-time just to have something to do. Derek would always shake his head and tell me to wait until we were done, but it was what I could do, so I did it. Insecurity manifests itself in many ways.
Though it’s not meant as a slam on me or anyone else inept in most things mechanical, Derek has a dream to start what he calls “Man School” – a series of weekend classes to teach guys how to do “man stuff”: oil changes, basic plumbing, some carpentry, etc. I think it’s a great idea and would think about enrolling by extension, but I’m too afraid I’d flunk out. I told Derek I need the vocational version of Man School – the “shop class” of shop class, if you will – but I’m not sure what the syllabus would include for that. Finding (and remembering) where the water shut-off is? Navigating your way to/through Home Depot? The basics of changing a light bulb?
Maybe I’ll just teach the “clean up” course at the end.