Saturday, February 03, 2007

Men at Work

My basement is under construction and therefore my entire house is dusty and noisy and my life is fraught with constant interruption. I don’t want it to ever stop.

Not because I love all of the above, but because I wake up every morning with five guys in my basement that all want to make me happy.

Every woman should wake up this way.

The general contractor, Chris, is the most charming of all. Flirtatious in a mostly harmless way. He’ll be reporting to me about the cement work or something similar, gesturing in front of him as to how the finished product will look, when he’ll turn to me and look me in the eye. This is when he will pause, feign a startled look on his face—as if he’s just now noticed me standing there. And then he will say, “Kim, you look beautiful today.”

I know that this is a line, some shtick handed to me by a man who knows upon which side his bread is buttered. I know that he’s said these very same words to at least seven other women this very morning, but you know what? I don’t care. I float around the whole day. Kim, you look beautiful today. I tell my husband he better watch out. Or maybe just take notes.

All of Chris’s men are charming. They’re polite. They treat me with respect. They clean up after themselves. Do you see why I don’t want them to leave? I find myself thinking of them down in my basement with their brooms, sweeping up sawdust and taking out the trash, while I’m upstairs walking around picking up my boys’ underwear and my husbands dirty socks.

They all have nicknames, bestowed on them by Chris, granted without the tedium of prepositions. Martin, Right-Hand-Man. Wlodek, Famous Electrician. Joseph, World’s Best Carpenter. And let’s not forget Henry, Handsome Tile Man. I’m told women all over Chicagoland are so smitten with Henry Handsome Tile Man that they choose elaborate tile patterns for their master bathroom suites. I guess that’s their choice, but I’d take Martin Right-Hand Man any day.

I need to behave. My husband reads these. But, if I could be naughty for just a few more sentences, I’d like to add that perhaps the greatest feature about these guys is their English isn’t always so great. Talk about the perfect men! Think about it. No disagreements. No arguments. Just lots of smiles and nods and the occasional, Kim, you look beautiful today. Sigh.

They told me, via my Polish babysitter, when I asked her to translate something complicated for me, that they couldn’t figure me out. She said the workers didn’t understand how I could walk around, always smiling, always kind to them, offering them sodas and water and coffee and never complaining about the inconvenience of it all. To them I am an anomaly.

I know construction is a huge inconvenience, but it’s really fun too. I like watching my house take shape, the slow but steady progress every day, the pride these guys take in their work. It’s a blessing that we can get this work done, that we can afford it, that we live in a house that warrants it. I don’t understand how anyone could not be happy, much less take it out on some workers who are only doing their jobs.

Soon they’ll all be leaving and the house will be much quieter, although sadly, not much less dusty. I will miss them. I’ll miss the constant steady improvement in my home, their smiles and nods, the ridiculously obvious sycophantic compliments.

That is, until it’s time to finish the attic…

No comments:

Post a Comment