Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lessons Learned

I think we all learn many lessons the hard way.  During the time we lived in Galveston, I looked around at different part-time jobs.  Ultimately, I signed up with a temp agency – could work if I wanted to, not if I didn’t.  However, once I tried my hand at the house painting profession. 

My friend Eddie bid out a job and asked me if I wanted to help him.  Sure, sez I, how hard can it be. (famous last words)  I’ve painted inside rooms of every house I’ve owned and once all the trim on the outside. 

The house to be painted was wood, two-stories, and built in the 1920’s. Like most houses in Galveston, it had shutters - storm and decorative.  It was a “salt box” construction, which means there is no front porch, just straight up walls.  And, it was a real mess – paint peeling everywhere, rotten wood, decorative shutters along with metal storm shutters that were peeling, plants growing all over the house, etc.  Well, the job included everything – scraping, replacing wood, painting everything including both shutters.  So, right off there were just a few problems, like

1.         The house was owned by a management company and the renter was out of town.  That means NO BATHROOM.  Now, for Eddie that’s not as great a problem (concealed little corner in the back), but for me that’s a major issue. 
2.         The management company would not give us access to the inside for bathroom usage (ok, I can understand that) so I had to go to the local convenience store.
3.         The management company would not give us access to the EMPTY free-standing garage so we could store ladders, paint, etc. (?????????)  That meant we had to haul everything to and fro every day. 
4.         The yard was infested with web worms and ticks.  Now, I can deal with a number of bugs (the web worms are nasty but no biggie) BUT ticks are a whole other thing.  I wore bug repellent, heavy socks and still picked ticks off (fortunately none of them embedded or I’d have quit on the spot).
5.         Eddie didn't have any scaffolding and his tallest ladder just barely reached up to the shutters on the 2nd floor.
6.         He was planning to “hand wash and bleach” the house.  Wrong, says I.  What about a power washer.  Oh – he could borrow one of those.
7.         How, says I, are you going to paint the storm shutters on the 2nd floor.  Oh, he replied, we’ll
just take them off and paint them on the ground.  OK, how, when your ladder barely reaches the shutters, do you plan to get them off.  Oh, I’ll jiggle them off their hooks and hand them down to you.  Riiiiiiggggghhhhht.
8.         Again, how, says I, are you going to get them back on those hooks?  Hmmm, hadn’t thought of that.
9.         What about the decorative shutters on the second floor – how will you paint those?  Working on that.  (Oh good)
10.       The paint came in 5-gallon buckets which weigh about 50lbs.  My max lift and carry is 40lbs. 

So, we got started.  And, it was very hot with beautiful blue and clear skies – all day long.  I suggested we start really early (6:30 am) so we can quit before the heat was completely unbearable.  Which we did, not that it helped much.  By 8:00 am it was already blistering.  Anyway, I spent 7 days scraping and caulking, scraping and caulking, scraping and caulking.  Then, spent one day, sitting on the cement painting shutters with a little brush.  Took me 6 hours to paint four shutters with three coats of paint. 

If you ever plan on doing this, keep in mind that sitting on the cement when the air temp is 90+ degrees painting metal shutters makes the reflected heat about a bazillion degrees.  Plus you want to use a paint sprayer.

At the end of that day, I admitted that this job was beyond my ability.  BUT, I couldn’t just quit and leave Eddie in the lurch.  He took the job knowing he would need help and I did agree to do it.  Well, the fortunes smiled down on me and sent me a young, unemployed male nephew.  My sister’s son was just out of the army and had no job.  I offered him free room and board if he wanted the job.  He agreed and it all ended well. Eddie got a young, strong helper. Aaron got a job.  I learned I do not want to be a house painter.

Take care

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