Thursday, June 18, 2009

Power tools empower

As part of PwC's community service initiatives (we do more than taxes!), they occasionally give us the chance to shirk traditional work responsibilities for the day and descend en mass on some organization that's been kind enough to agree to take on a bunch of accountants/lawyers/type-A personalities for the day as we attempt to do some good in the world. The lucky recipient of the gang from 1301 K? Habitat for Humanity! So yesterday, after loading up on the bus, fortifying ourselves with coffee, enduring our rather incompetent driver, and hoping and praying that they sky wouldn't open up on us with a ginormous rainstorm, we found ourselves in a southeast section of the city that I would probably not otherwise find myself in, willing and ready build a house.

Today my body hurts in ways I didn't know it could hurt. I mean, it's really not too bad and actually serves as a good reminder that I should work out more, but can you pinpoint the muscles you use to (1) carry windows from a work shed to a home and then up a flight of stairs, (2) shave down a too-small window frame using what I think was a reciprocating saw, (3) move and stack scaffolding, (4) fill an enormous dumpster with construction junk, and (5) destroy old wooden stuff (held together with stubborn nails, of course) with a sledgehammer? This is totally counting as my workout time for the entire week. And now I know about things like window flashing and properly leveling a window in its frame! My cube buddy Stephanie and I learned quite a bit from Dave and Claude, two regular volunteers who come out as part of the Wednesday Crew.

And what would a construction site be without a little inappropriate talk and possibly some innuendo? Courtesy of the guys..."I can't get it up!" (actually referring to shifting the window up in the frame before screwing it in to close up the air gap at the tap) and "can we go all the way?" (those words may have come out of my mouth...quite innocently, I might I was peeling the backing off the waterproofing tape going around the window frames). One of our favorite phrases of the day? Screw it! And this was in a positive context! It's pretty exciting to actually get the window in place, leveled and ready to go, and shout "screw it!" to the poor guy who's stuck outside (usually Claude) so he can quite literally screw know, screw the window into its frame.

Fortunately, it only rained on us a little bit, and the home we were working on already had a roof, so we could seek refuge inside during the heavier drops. Oh, hard hats also serve as pretty decent rain hats in a pinch. The weather ended up cancelling today's outing (us Pdubbers are spread out over three days so we don't drive the regular crew completely crazy...oh, and for reasonable logistics), so I'm really glad we got to go yesterday!

And may I just put out there...who shows up at a home construction site NOT expecting to get dirty, do some actual physical labor, and maybe come across a bug or two? Most of our crew was pretty willing and had a good attitude for the day, but come on, you bug and dirt weenies - get with the program.

Check out our massive pile o' refuse...

...and the back of our home (which is actually two homes)...and do you see the two windows on the top floor on the right? The reciprocating saw and I got to cut through the blueboard insulation and send it plummeting to the ground so we could put windows in. I want to spend more time with power tools, please. I cut through nails with that thing!

It was rewarding to get away from my desk for a day and actually do something that gives back to the community a little bit. Sometimes I struggle to find anything redeeming about what I do at work on a day-to-day basis (the best I can come up with is "upholding the financial integrity of so-and-so and the economic backbone of our country!"...sounds semi-impressive, right?), and I truly appreciate that PwC does make an effort to give its employees the opportunity to put in a little community service time. Thank goodness for that community service charge code for my time sheet. And I hope this house that accountants helped build actually stands the test of time.

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