Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Working Life

Post 23
For twenty years, I worked happily in the construction trade.  I built new additions, remodeled and repaired older homes and had the pleasure of using my skills on several historic structures. I tried to accept projects that were both interesting and lucrative. My vocation provided a sense of freedom and the satisfaction of a puzzle solved.
 I am like many “one truck” contractors that I have the pleasure to know.  We work with our bodies as well as our heads. We naively believe we will not grow too old or feeble to climb a ladder or swing a hammer (or, these days, drag an air hose).  We’ll make it to the finish line, older and wiser, with our bodies intact and money in the bank.
It doesn’t always work that way. Aches and pains that we ignored in our forties, develop into bad backs, carpel tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff tears. We often depend on our wives’ health insurance to pay our way back to productivity. Many of us realize, too late, that we owned a job, not a business.  Projects rest solely on our shoulders.  If we can no longer be the productive physical presence we once were, what do we have?
I am at half speed now. It takes me a day to do a half day’s work.  Occasionally, good friends hire me for projects and I charge according to my revised productivity schedule.  Experience counts for something, but nothing replaces the ability to add some muscle to the job.

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