Shortly after breakfast this morning the door bell rang and some commotion followed. Within minutes I heard the distinct sound of a grinder engaging metal. Some new project was being tackled, and fast. In my room I started to salivate. Could I, a somewhat trained architect and craftsmen, provide some usefulness to this house aside from my endless stomach. I wiped drool from my chin and tried to snap out of fantasies involving lungfuls of sawdust, shooting arcs of molten metal, power-tools, fasteners, things to be fastened, projects to be dreamed and realized. When I came about there was a moment of silence, a void in power-tool talk, and then sudden shouts. Things were turning, I needed to step in and offer my professional contracting services.

The rudimentary stairs leading to our unfinished roof were being hacked to pieces. “What,” I spanglished, “is going on here.” The plan involved rotating the stairs out over the other set of interior stairs giving access to the space beneath for a small desk/office. Men the world over want to be productive before smart, so tools were engaged with metal before the idea was fully analyzed. The shouts came when it was evident that either the stairs would need to be shorter and tighter, people would need to shrink to get up them, or the roof would have to be lifted. Jorge, as soon as he saw me approach, was thinking, “thank heavens I have an american trained architect and contractor living with me.” I was informed of the problem, asked to use my expertise, and let them know what we could do to fix the problem.

I scratched my head for an hour and had to admit that one of the three above options, or a combination of them all, would have to be executed to make this work. The chances of people shrinking, the roof lifting, or the stairs warping space are next to nil. I did not come through in my greatest moment of need. I could not offer them the infinite wisdom of a northern expert. I think I am better off stuffing food into my bottomless stomach, and taking jokes with a laugh. As an ambassador of the US education system and precision building methods I am sorry to all I have let down when, in Guatemala, I was faced with an insurmountable problem and perhaps tarnished our reputation forever (at least in this household of 5).

2 Responses to “Usefulness”

  1. Caitlyn says:

    Hahaha. I loved it too, especially the line where you admit that “men the world over want to be productive before smart”.

    Some problems simply cannot be solved; is that the life lesson? Tough for us stubborn norteamericanos to accept.

    You are useful always; at least useful in putting a smile on this friend’s face!

    Miss you. xoxoxo

  2. Martha says:

    Loved it! The story, your involvement, the lack of a solution (so unamerican). Maybe a bit more time thinking and stuffing yourself will result in a new plan. Hope you’re well.

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