the dull work of a cowboy electrician
Friday, August 8 2003
Today I did the first installment of work on my first serious hard-core cowboy electrician job. The work was straight-forward enough: the complete wiring of basement comprised of a hallway, a large television room, a bathroom, and a shop. The main complication was the composition of the building, which consisted of large modular components. In the basement, the walls were made out of concrete slabs tilted upright and ribbed with stud-like concrete structures verneered with thin sticks of wood. The concrete proved impossible to nail into, but at least the ribs had pre-formed holes passing through them at regular intervals, giving me places to string my wires.
I hadn't expected the work to be as tedious and uninteresting as it was; back when I did this sort of thing in my own house, it was dull, sure. But there's something about working on your own house that provides its own motivation. Working purely for money is too much of an abstraction when the work itself is as numbingly hum-drum as wiring outlet boxes. If it had been a boring computer job, I could have seen it as a challenge to build a short program to do my work for me. But short of building an elaborate 20 million dollar my-face-on-the-cover-of-Time-Magazine robot, I was actually going to have to do the work myself.
The pathetic thing was that I only managed to work five hours before calling it quits. Towards the end there I was running on a serious blood sugar deficit and that musty basement started feeling like a prison.
I got home and Gretchen had a dinner of chili and Hurley sweet corn prepared. Her friend Joslin (whom she met last summer during a poetry retreat in Vermont) was visiting, and we all had our dinner out on the south deck while mosquitos attacked us relentlessly.
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