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.