Saturday, 20 July 2013

Painting with Guys

Today, despite not being particularly prolific this year to begin with, I am taking a leave of absence from my blog in order to go to Asia to teach English for a month! I am very excited, but I will not be able to update until late August.

So, to pass the last couple hours before I must head to the airport, here's a little bit about my summer so far. I have been painting houses with lots of guys (zero females). Not with all the guys at the same time, though; they cycled through pretty fast. First there were Ken and Ivan*, followed by Gordon, Dilton, Leo, Scout, and Joss. And of course my boss, Tris. 

Because of the coming-and-goingness of the guys, I ended up being the most proficient house painter. I was the one most comfortable on ladders, the one most trusted without supervision, and the only one on my boss's team that knew how to use the spraying machine. Joss used the sprayer once, but it turns out he is literally colour-blind and can't tell what he's painted (hint: mostly the concrete sidewalk....)

Nothing too frightening happened during my time painting. Though, there was one job that required extending the 32-foot ladder to almost its full length. Originally, my boss had expected me to finish the job by myself in a single day, but I declined. The ground was extremely uneven and crowded in bush, so it took my boss and another guy to steady the ladder while I climbed to the top and stretched to paint a windowsill. I had already been climbing ladders all day, so I suggested that one of them climb while I helped hold the ladder.

"You're taller than I am, so you can reach farther," said my boss.

"I'm heavier than you are. You wouldn't be able to steady the ladder for me," said Leo.

"Fine," I sighed.

So we got into a rhythm. I'd climb, Leo would hold, and Tris would help when needed. Leo took to seeing me off with a, "Don't die," every time I started to climb.

"Just make sure you hold it steady," I would reply.

"I'll hold it as steady as the Berlin Wall," he said.

"Steadier," I requested.

He sniggered. "You know what happened to the Berlin Wall, right?"

I sighed and started climbing.

And then he'd greet me at the bottom again with a, "You didn't die!" No, I didn't die. Still here. Thanks for the encouragement, though.

Overall, I didn't feel like I had the time or the training to get really good at painting, but it seems that I impressed a few people. Tris said I impressed his boss. And Scout, who is a friend of Tris's and a painting manager himself also seemed impressed. At one point he gestured to some soffits on a second (almost third) storey roof.

"How did you mask up there?" he asked me. "Who did that part?"

"I did," I said, "with a ladder."

"Oh," he said, sounding a bit surprised. "I have a couple of guys on my team that are both terrified of heights. They refuse to go up even the A-frame ladders."

"That would make things difficult," I replied.

Who applies to be a painter if they can't climb even an A-frame ladder? Who hires someone to paint if they won't climb even an A-frame ladder? Half the job is climbing ladders. And moving ladders. And steadying ladders.

In fact, I even climbed a ladder onto a balcony as a thunderstorm approached. Scout slid the ladder up after me so I could reach the soffits. "You're not allowed to leave until you finish," he said, remarking on my captivity.

Fortunately, I did finish, and the thunderstorm seemed to take a detour, so Tris and Scout came and let me off the balcony again, which was nice of them. My boss was generally pretty nice. After the sprayer exploded on the side of a house, I briefly wondered whether it would get me fired. Instead, he had only kind sentiments. "Take a break," he said. "Have a beer. Go home." I think he meant, "Go home. Take a break. Have a beer." At any rate, he didn't fire me.

The thing about painting houses is you can't paint in the rain or in the wind. And it's not economical to paint in the blazing sun, either. Given the weather in Calgary this summer, you may question whether I managed to paint anything at all. The answer is yes, we got a few projects done. But now I am finished and headed overseas and that is considerably more enticing!

See you with the new semester!

"If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." Jim Rohn 

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T. S. Eliot 

*All names subtly changed to protect privacy

1 comment:

Art said...

Now that you are a painting expert, I one day will be able to use your skills. Now that I also know you are not afraid of heights, I can use your help putting up Christmas lights. I wonder maybe you were just showing off to impress the guys.