The Postscript: Hardworking people are more than just workers
We are reaching that point in remodeling where we seriously question whether we will ever be done.
After we finally found a plumber, we thought our worries were over and progress began briskly. Our plumber had a delightful and exceptionally competent young fellow from Kenya, named Meshach, doing the tiling. We were all set for him to begin on Thursday morning, but he did not arrive.
This seemed rather out of character, but we weren’t too concerned. Then he failed to show on Friday. We figured he likely had some job he had to finish before beginning work with us on Monday, so we didn’t worry too much. Late on Friday afternoon, Meshach called.
“I am so sorry I have not been there the last two days,” Meshach began. Before I had a chance to speak, he continued. “But I will tell you the truth: I have had a nervous breakdown.”
“I’m so sorry!” I said.
“I will tell the cause of my nervous breakdown if you like.”
“You don’t have to!” I said quickly, not sure how deeply into this I wanted to go.
“No, I will tell you. You should know. I have a girlfriend in Kenya. I knew there were problems…” (This does not sound good, I thought.)
“I have not seen her in more than a year and I have just learned she is pregnant.”
I didn’t know quite how to respond to this, but he continued. “I bought her a refrigerator. I bought her a microwave. I even bought her an air conditioner!”
At the mention of the air conditioner, his voice broke. (You don’t give a woman an air conditioner if you’re not serious.) I had to sympathize with Meshach, imagining this pregnant woman sitting in the cool air—even if it meant my bathroom remodeling was delayed.
It’s easy to forget that remodeling isn’t just about the parts and pieces and appliances; it involves people as well. We have invited all of these people into our home and our life, if just for a short while.
I know exactly how much our electrician makes in a year and how much he hates doing paperwork. I know the fellow who installed the flooring in my office is only 25 and not sure he ever wants to get married. I know the floor sander lives in the woods where the phone reception is spotty—and he likes it that way. I’ve learned a lot about these people who have come into my home and my life in the last few weeks. I’m sure they know lots of things about me that I don’t even suspect. And that’s OK.
When my husband, Peter, and I sold our old house, we got a better price than we expected and decided we’d do all the remodeling at once. We knew we’d be spending more money than we might have to. But we also knew that most of it would be going into the pockets of hardworking people, and that didn’t seem like the worst thing to do with a bit of a windfall.
Meshach came on Monday, right on time, and no mention was made of his nervous breakdown. He seems like his old self, but I am not fooled. I know his heart is hurting.
Maybe I will say something later on, when he isn’t right in the middle of sawing a tile. I’ll tell him that I might seem too old to understand, but that I really do care. Sure, I care about my bathroom. But I care about him as well.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.