Sunday, January 4, 2009

The HandyGraham vs. Charlie Brown

Well well well, it's been some time now...between the hubbub of the hectic holidays and a concise season of sinister stomach sickness, I'm officially back in the game here.

After being sick for the majority of what many who aren't self-employed so affectionately call winter break, I daresay, I wasn't thrilled per se about working on Friday. But, a combination of not having been able to work for some time, and the fact that I am fond of my clientele convinced me otherwise. It quickly turned into one of those days, however, when the weather is beautiful everywhere except the 5-foot diameter circle that surrounds you, in which it does nothing but rain all day. I've heard from a quite a few people lately that Charlie Brown is a very depressing guy...the reason is that he always has days like the one I'm about to describe.

The issue was this: from the electric breaker box, there were two electrical circuit runs that were not run with heavy enough wire to meet code standards.

One run had an easy solution which involved no more than switching out a 20amp breaker for a 15amp breaker to allow less current through the circuit - a 10 minute operation at most.

The second run was not so simple. It was actually a short run in the same room, but I'd already ruled out the possibility of going through the attic. Upon assessing the crawl space, the clouds darkened slightly as I realized that even a mouse would have trouble getting into the space where I needed to go. I was left with no other option but cutting into drywall - STRIKE 1

So I picked up supplies at Home Depot, then got to work. Everything was going great...drywall came out in one piece, I found a clear path from the breaker box to the outlet, etc. After drilling holes through the studs I found that the friction from my drill had pushed through the wire insulation and exposed copper on a BIG wire - NOT GOOD. Sadly, even the most careful of us even make embarrassing...not to mention I'm lucky I didn't fry myself.

I called Dad to brainstorm and we ruled out all the simple solutions leaving me with no other option than to replace the damaged section with more THICK wire. After waiting in a completely non-moving line for far too long at Burger King, and reading the disgruntled faces of those waiting in line in front of me, I decided to skip lunch (which is heart-breaking if you know how much I like to eat). In lunch's stead, I decided to go to Home Depot to get replacement pieces I'd need to repair my blunder - and they weren't cheap.

I headed back to start my 2.5 hour unpaid, and far more frustrating detour to fix what didn't originally need fixing in the first place. After fighting tooth and nail (quite literally) with those belligerently non-pliable wires, I was finally able to get back to my original project around about 4 in the afternoon. STRIKE 2 (& 3 if you count missing lunch...I know I do).

Finally back on track, I had no more difficult hurdles to clear - I was back on the clock and running like clockwork. I finished up, put the wall back together, and tested all the wiring which responded with perfect results. After cleaning up my tools, my client was kind enough to let me borrow his shop-vac (as I'd brilliantly left mine at home). I bent over and vacuumed up all the mess I'd made, but was much dismayed when I turned around. Apparently something was not secured properly on the vacuum and I'd just filled the back half of the house with a cloud of drywall dust. STEEEE-RIIIIKE 3 (or 4)!!! You're outta there. I'd quite literally inflicted others with the same dark cloud I'd been in all day.


To put the icing on the cake, the day was January 2 and it was like 65 outside and sunny. Perfect motorcycle weather and I missed all of it.

Well, I apologized profusely, and my clients were more than gracious. I'm so thankful that they'd already seen my normal, non-rain cloud work and knew this isn't the norm. I still left feeling totally defeated though.

I was hesitant to blog about this, and if my daily protocol were typically riddled with such disaster, I don't think I would have. But this is me - what you see is what you get. If you're perfect, by all means, feel free to throw stones.

So what's to be learned from all of this?

-No matter how hard we try, we all still make mistakes. A true test of a man is how he handles his mistakes. I've learned to own my mistakes and am constantly learning to handle them with integrity and dignity. It's also important to learn not to make the mistake again.

-Hurdles look like hurdles at first glance, but upon closer analysis, we find they're actually character-building stepping stones. When I'm working, and nobody can see me, I like to pretend I'm being video-taped to remind me to work hard and behave respectably no matter who's watching. That means keeping a cool head when things go wrong.

-Accursed days like this one should remind us to stop and appreciate the good days. How many good days have I had where everything goes as it should? How many times do I ever stop to be thankful for those?

-Drill chucks are more abrasive than you might think...keep them away from wires.

-Some days just suck, but EVERYBODY has those days...not just me.

-We can ALWAYS be learning. ALWAYS.

I'm glad to say that the day had a happy ending. I had the pleasure of grilling out in the company of good friends and was blessed with a great many reasons to smile despite my preceding disaster of a day. The power of positive thinking cannot rest on one's shoulders good company, it manifests and sustains itself.

I just wish I could share my friends with Charlie Brown for a couple days, or maybe donate one of my many good days to him. Lord knows he could use it.

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