The guys are putting together our kitchen from scratch, without benefit of instructions (or, somewhat disconcertingly, detailed plans of any kind), using an awesome variety of specialized power tools the likes of which I have never seen. Seeing some of these tools left behind when the guys quit at the end of a day, I am unable to name many of them, much less guess their purpose. I am reasonably certain, however, that none of them would be allowed through security at the airport.
These craftsmen are erecting ceilings, yanking out windows, creating walls were there were no walls before (and deleting them where there were), installing lighting fixtures using actual wiring…all the while chatting amiably among themselves, often in a language I don’t understand. I think it’s a foreign language, but they could just be talking construction-ese and I wouldn’t understand that, either. Even more incredibly, I haven’t once heard one of them yell out the equivalent of “F–king Swedes, why don’t they label the parts clearly!” Not that I’ve ever done that.
Mike, one of the partners running the job, even has this really cool Transformers kind of truck with like a million compartments containing every hand tool you can imagine. It’s like a rolling Home Depot, except that he seems to be able to actually find stuff.
And as the big gaping hole begins to resemble a big gaping hole that may soon be a kitchen, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that this is actually getting done by people who have the skills and expertise to do it. The ability to accomplish something like this is so far beyond my knowledge bank, they might as well be assembling the space shuttle behind that plastic curtain.
The only person I know personally who can do half of this stuff is my brother-in-law Gary, who learned most of it from his father. (My father, who sold deli meats, tried to teach me the difference between olive loaf and head cheese, and I didn’t even learn that, because, to me, they were both equally disgusting.)
So I wonder if the guys in my kitchen learned their skills from their fathers, if the ability to build things is some old-world wisdom that has been passed down through the ages. I know there is also a genetic factor; you can learn the skills, but I think you have to be born with a sort of fearlessness to take on these kinds of projects and not be afraid you’ll screw it up.
That gene does not run in my family. I believe I am descended from nomads who would move from place to place not to follow food, but because they didn’t know how to assemble any permanent shelters.
See you soon.