thirty truths: 25

I’d be proud to know one tenth of what the guys who are doing our basement reno know.

Drywall, for instance.

I’ve learned that the old stuff is noisy coming down and the new stuff is equally noisy, but in a different way, going up.

Then there’s mudding—which means applying drywall compound to cover all the little imperfections and studs and nail holes and edges and general blips and wows (‘wow’ being the technical term for blip, I’ve been told). Once the mud dries, the walls are sanded to a smooth finish that’s ready for paint.

Sounds better than it is.

When they’re applying the wet compound (mud) the air becomes damp and sauna-like. When they sand, it gets so hazy with drywall dust they have to run fans and a suction machine that pulls it out the window. In other words, they’re never working in what might be considered a pleasant environment. They don’t even get the stress-relieving therapy of tearing down walls or hammering in new ones.

It strikes me as the biggest and ugliest job I’ve seen so far. Two guys have been at it for three days and at the end of each day they emerge covered in either plaster or white dust, literally from head to foot—the only thing semi-clean is the area around their eyes and nose from wearing a serious mask.

They do this every day. It’s all they do. They are mudders.

The amazing part is they don’t seem to go insane.  In fact, they seem like very nice people,  which is a far cry from what I’d be called after an eight hour day in somebody’s basement either feeling clammy or breathing dust.

Maybe they drink heavily when they get home.

Or maybe it’s like anything else, that once you understand the intricacies of the work, it becomes craft, and craftsmenn enjoy their work, take pride in what they do, and done from that vantage point, with that attitude, anything can become absorbing, no matter how mind-numbing or physically taxing or just downright horrible it appears from the outside.

In other words, I doubt the mudders would want to trade me for eight hour days of comma rearrangement. 

Who knows for what reason people end up doing the various jobs they do. It’s not always for love of the work, that’s certain, but maybe the key isn’t so much what we choose to do, but with what kind of energy we choose to do it.

Today when I delivered the mudders a plate of homemade brownies to go with their coffee, they were grateful.

Me too.

4 thoughts on “thirty truths: 25

  1. My hubby promised that the vacuum attachment for the dry walling sander would not allow plaster dust to penetrate every crevice of our basement and coat all our shelves of dishes and books and luggage with a fine white powder. He lied. I can’t get up the energy to attack the clean up. Now why didn’t I insist on covering everything with sheets?

    I don’t envy you this stage of your renovations. I too think it must be one of the worst jobs, except for guy I had once who spray painted stucco on the ceilings and walls, looking like snowmen at the end of the day. But then there’s the guy who gets inside septic tanks …

    1. Ha! It’s true. We owe a lot to these guys. I’m fascinated by different ‘talents’ people have.

      And that dust! Blech. It’s everywhere. No one suggested we turn off the furnace so it was even more everywhere than it needed to be. And now it’s in the ducts, so once the reno is done we have the pleasure of having the ducts cleaned. Another one of those real ‘silent’ jobs… ;)

      Funny that you’re going through a similar process. The commiseration is welcome!

      Good luck with yours!

  2. Good on you for making brownies for your mudders. My mother-in-law (mudder-in-law?) makes brownies for everyone who comes within 100 metres of our property. Every time the oil man comes he gets brownies or some kind of treat. For a while he refused them (not sure why) but I think the old girl wore him down. Keep it up. More brownies might mean the work will go quicker.

    1. I think your mudder-in-law should be the poster child for something… Love your stories about her; she sounds wonderful.

      And thanks, yes, I’ll keep those brownies coming!

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