Black Boogers

Written May 31, 2012 by Joel Sauer

We should all probably stop a moment and thank God for those who decided to go into a trade.  You know, areas like plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, general construction and the like.  I don’t know about you, but when I flush a toilet, I want it to go somewhere!  Like magic.  It’s something easy to take for granted – unless you’re ripping out old stuff that . . . well . . . wasn’t so magic.

As we (my pronoun choice is for simplicity and represents the collective “we”, not necessarily Ellen and me) removed floor boards and ceilings, revealing the joists and subfloors underneath, we realized that the previous plumbing went somewhere alright, just not far enough.  Rotten wood isn’t very strong and frankly doesn’t smell very good either, so out it goes.  We actually didn’t plan to rip out subfloors and discover this, but hey this is just one of the many pleasant surprises that come free with old houses.  More on that later.

So back to the trades. The men working on our house know their stuff and we’re sure happy they do.  Every day a little more progress is made to ensure that when we flip a switch a light will actually come on; when we flush a toilet, things go all the way to sanitation department; when we’re cold, we can turn on heat; and so on and so on.  What these guys provide is skilled labor.  At the other end of the spectrum are Ellen and me.

Skilled labor creates messes.  You can’t snake ducts and cold air returns and new wiring and new plumbing through existing walls without poking holes, tearing out plaster, cutting holes in floors and generally creating chaos.  The unskilled labor cleans it up.  That’s what we are.

Typically at the end of the day or on weekends, we’ll don our old clothes and sweep, vacuum and haul trash to the dumpster.  It’s a pretty messy job and raises a lot of dust.  We both try to wear a mask as much as possible, but it’s not the most comfortable thing, particularly on hot days, and so we don’t always have it on.  The result is a snoot full of dust and soot.  It’s fun to turn a Kleenex black.  And for two days you get to pick black boogers!  (You were wondering about that title, weren’t you?)

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