Iaman reports from Austin:
I was invited by a fellow church goer to participate in fixing up someone's house. I was thinking it was some local poor unfortunate.
Watch what you volunteer for.
I arrive (84 mile round trip ) at a small 1980s tract home is a well kept community, at 9 AM.
There are nice serviceable cars in the garage and driveway.
How does this house differ from any other in the subdivision?
There is a bustle of fellow volunteers arranging tools and materials. Overgrown Trees and bushes have been trimmed, the result bundled on the curb. Some of the hardboard siding had already been replaced and caulked.
Closer inspection shows the wallboard to be damp, decomposing and needing to be replaced in another 8 years. This what we are to paint.
The house looks pleasant in its Tan and brown, fitting nicely into the community. The owners requested a festive Mexican style color change to Teal trim and white. This of course requires more paint and more attention to detail. and that combo with brown brick is going to suck.
I bit my tongue. as I think: "fuck this, I'm not painting any fucking Teal paint!" then another "fuck that!" .
I wire brush the aluminum patio cover trim of sticks and leaves, looking top-side there is a composting pile of leaves, a foot deep, and the junction of the patio and house roof. The rot of the roof is palpable. No one wants to climb up there to expose a bigger job.
Thinking "what can I do that will occupy my mind and not violate my sensibilities" I take to painting white under the shelter of the patio cover from the cold 40F windy damp weather. I'm being careful and more attentive to detail than this job deserves. Looking up while painting under the kitchen window I see a large 300lb man very ably maneuvering through the kitchen building a large burrito, he guiltily catches me watching him. Next to cut-in the sliding door, inside is a woman younger than me watching TV, later she gets up again quite ably to drive her late model car out of the driveway to run errands. Those two could have changed the entire experience for 20 people if they had come out and profusely offered their thanks, many times over (that's what you do for volunteers)....but no......just silence layering over guilt.
(in retrospect I should have asked more about the project beneficiaries and made a go/no-go decision from there, not because a nice person asked me to volunteer. Oh well, live and learn)
I finish doing what I can without climbing ladders, listen to 4 men discuss the logistics of asking the homeowner whether it is OK that they can paint the black patio support uprights with enamel spray paint, vs brushing them with latex teal........ and I then skedaddle.
Weaving through traffic down to Deep eddy, air 40F, water 69F, I swim 2.25 mile to bleed off my disgust with the illogical world.
I'm the sole swimmer attend to by 6 lifeguards and attendants.
Watch, the repainting project will go viral as a example of man's humanity to man.
17 hours ago