Jun 4, 2011

The Builder

Jim went off to work on "the basement".  Over the last two years he has been helping a former client work to transform his basement into a home theater.  It's taken so long because Jim can only get over there every few months or so.  They're willing to wait for Jim's here and there work day.  They know he does good work.

When I met Jim he was a roofer.  Roofing is hard work.  I remember watching him sling a bundle of shingles on his shoulder and climb up the ladder, no hands.  It made my heart drop to watch him scale a two story house, jump up and then scramble all over the steep roof as though he were still firmly planted on the ground.  He had no fear.  He did a lot of roofs over the years. To this day when we drive through Ann Arbor he'll point out roofs that he did.

Flat roofs paid more money so he moved into that business.  Smelly, dirty work, tar over everything.  But we needed the money since our family was growing.  Over the years he got the chance to do other work, finish carpentry, mostly remodeling.  Homeowners liked him.  Not only was he honest, friendly and hard working, he had a knack for helping people develop their vision and then he delivered.  His clients always came by word of mouth.  When you do good work your name gets out there.   That's why the basement people wait for Jim instead of hiring someone full time.

As Jim moved into his 40's the work got harder on his body.  He got the chance to change careers into computer support.  I was doubtful at first.  He had zero experience with computers, turning a computer on was the extent of his skills. But he worked hard, didn't get discouraged and now travels around as a network and computer support freelancer.  He is also the family's computer expert.

He still does good work and his computer clients like him.  But I know he misses the chance to build things with his hands.  When you fix somebody's computer there's really nothing to stand back and admire.     So, he grumbled a bit about working on a beautiful summer Saturday but I can tell he was itching to get his hands on a hammer again.  Came back for some special tools after about an hour.  Seems they need help with the stairs.  It's not easy to build stairs he told me. Well, stairs that are straight and true anyway.  I'm  sure he'll take a couple of trips up and down those stairs when he's done, proud of the work he's done.


  1. Sounds like he is "keeper."

  2. Yep, I'll bet he actually enjoyed the heck out of it. :)

  3. what a catch..ha..I was always the 'builder' I worked at home improvement stores and can do everything wire a house..you dont' want me messing with wire..or anything electric..my idea of being a electrician is flipping the switch.

  4. What a lovely tribute to your husband. I have a hubby who can turn his hand to anything and he never ceases to amaze me.

  5. I like honest Tradies (thats what we call tradesmen down under) people who are honest, gentlemanly and decent. They always get a callback if needed and i always pass on their details to others just as I badmouth the bastard ones who rip you off and don't care. Sounds like you have a good bloke there - they are like diamonds - maybe rough around the edges but I have always found the rough diamonds to be the best