Friday, October 10, 2008

Men At Work



Last week, I spent about half my time working on the new church building by myself, and about half the time with other people....most of those other people were men. Men at work, I observed, are very different than women at work. This is not a bad thing. I hovered over one particular job every day for a week, fluttering around a pile of ceiling tiles and insulation and conduit and other junk, hoping that somehow I could hoist it up with my butterfly wings and make it go away. I and my other female friend, tended to stay in constant motion, working steadily at small projects, with very little sitting still.

Men, I observed, have a very different way of working. And that could not have been more obvious than when I worked on the building with a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter and a computer service manager.

The men started to appear around 5:30. I'd been there for an hour or so already, finishing small projects. They'd roll in and observe what was done, congratulate somebody for what had been done and then go survey their job. They joked around a bit, moved a couple of large heavy objects, made some more jokes, and then stood back to survey again. At some point, coffee comes on the scene or a sandwich. Large, heavy objects get moved again. Jeans are hoisted back into position. Then they need to make a Lowe's run. I personally hate to make a Lowes run in the middle of a job and would rather use a screwdriver to finish the job if I have to, than to stop and go get some other tool. But the men don't seem to mind. They made two Lowes' runs that night, I think. They return with the proper materials and turn on a CD. When that CD runs out, after they have sung with their favorite song, another guy picks a CD. More joking. Or they tell a sweet story about their kids. Or pretend their wife is hard on them, when you can tell all along they adore her. If the night is a long one, coffee will be replaced with something more refreshing. They stand and survey their work again. Something huge gets accomplished. They sit down and drink another beer. Then they slap their thigh and get up and gather up their tools and disappear. They tend to clean up the majority of their building mess and their tools, but the beer caps remain carefully lined up along the sink. But I don't mind because the pile of stuff in the middle of the kitchen is gone. I can certainly clean up a few beer caps.

I find all this terribly amusing and not at all annoying. When I was younger, I didn't appreciate men that much. I thought they were slow and I got impatient. I was young and stronger then, so I'd kill myself doing things that they could have done in five seconds. Now, I'm more patient. I'm content to wait and let them play out their long routines, junior high jokes and beer included. I like them. I like how different they are from me.

I especially like my own man. He probably didn't think of himself as very handy when we first were married, but now, I think he enjoys the problem solving and the impressing me. On this building project, he was needed, and so he jumped in and did anything he knew how to and learned the things he didn't. He got really good at putting down floor adhesive. He painted. He made things happen. He got rid of big piles of stuff nobody seemed to know what to do with. He took one look at my face on Saturday and realized that I didn't have another paint job in me, and so he finished painting the kitchen. He was amazing.

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