January 29, 2006

Ode to Construction Workers

This weekend, my sister, my brother, and I moved my father's old house, my father's storage unit, and my sister's apartment into a shared house for my sister and father.

Unfortunately, my father is sick. But when he's healthy, he works in construction. My brother is I-ate-two-breakfasts-this-morning healthy. He also works in construction. Both of them have an amazingly loyal, hardworking, and hilarious set of friends.

I arrived in my hometown last Thursday night. I visited my father in the hospital with my sister and brother and stayed the night with my brother, niece, and de-facto sister-in-law. Friday during the day, I packed what I could in my father's house until Friday evening, when after a full day of manual labor, my brother and no less than 6 of his big, burley friends arrived to load and unload heavy things into multiple trailers and trucks. Saturday morning, some of my father's big burley friends joined the action.

Uhaul? Puh-leeze. We're talking about men who attach trailer hitches to trucks for fun. Then, they pull out their air compressors, attach the hoses, pump up the tires on their hydraulic trailers, and attach those to the recently attached trailer hitches. I had no idea how many different varieties of gates came on trailers. Side gates, unfolding back gates, full metal gates that swing down, gates that open into two side flaps, those that turn into ramps, what do you need?

Each of these men took time out of their evenings and weekends to show up with their trucks, trailers, and muscles to make what would have been an impossibly overwhelming task amazingly possible.

My sister and I couldn't say thank you enough.

The men looked at us like we were crazy. They got food and beer (of course). There was no need for thanks. This is what you do for friends. It's just part of their code.

Sometimes, I'm amazed that I've chosen a career in a world that is so removed from real world problems. I'm happy for the mental gymnastics of legal problems. I love thinking about theories and what-if. But, at the end of the day, when people really need something, it's basic things like food, fun, strength, loyalty, dependable friends and family, and general social codes that make them feel content and safe.

As a general rule, by the time you need a lawyer in a real emergency, the world has spiraled so far outside of the social norms that everyone is uncomfortable and no one is happy to see the law-talking-dude. In times of real, immediate, human need, lawyers aren't that helpful, or at least, they aren't something you are thankful to have.

Construction workers, on the other hand. . .well, you'd be an idiot not to be thankful to have one or more in your family. They know how to fix all the stuff I take for granted (plumbing, electricity, doors, etc.) and they are happy to do so when they see something that's broken in your place (if you are family). Better yet, when the going gets rough, those guys are there for their brethren without a thought. It's humbling. It makes the cut-throat world of law school look even sillier than it already appeared.

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