Friday, November 30, 2007

Luigi Plumbs...Liz solders (sort of)

What an interesting day.

Luigi the Plumber came by around 12:30 to re-route some copper pipes that come out of our water heater in the garage and were in the way of the door to be cut into the baby's room from our bathroom. Now, Luigi is quite a character. He's about 4' 8", 60 years old, and has these crazy blue eyes that you feel like you should be able to see right through. He has a heavy Italian accent, but speaks very good English. He's also seemingly become quite fond of some English expletives, specifically "Son of a b*%^&."

I was telling my mom that I'm not even sure he realizes what he's saying. Sort of like, if you went to Italy and worked in construction and each time there was a snafu another construction guy said, "Holy Pasta," you might start saying "Holy Pasta" each time YOU had a snafu, just assuming that it was as benign as saying, "Oh shoot" (and I suppose that "Holy Pasta" IS more benign than "Oh shoot," so bad example, but...).

Each time something went awry, which seemed to be about every seven seconds, Luigi would either mutter or shout "Son of a B*^&$!" Thankfully, George was asleep upstairs!

I told him of my love of construction and assured him that my presence in the garage had nothing to do with my supervising his work, but instead my desire to see how this was going to come together. He handed me a hammer and told me to start pulling nails out of the 2x6s. First, I had to change my shoes. I made the mistake of wearing brand new Crocs during construction once before. That mistake shall not be made again.

Then, as I start pulling nails, I realize that Luigi is a bit of a "whistle while you work" guy. He's over there humming and whistling Italian songs. So, I start humming Christmas songs because that's all that's in my head right now, despite the fact that it's 70 degrees out. But it is raining today, so it feels a little East coast-ish.

He mentions that my humming is interfering with his. I thought he was joking, but then he turns on this godawful loud mini jackhammer. So I sang louder. But trust me, NO ONE could hear me. That thing was VERY loud.

Then, he turned it off. He returned to humming and swearing, and it occurred to me that perhaps this was some sort of cultural experience and, when in doubt, one should just do as the locals do. This was the justification I gave myself for, whenever a nail was slow to be removed, simply muttering, "Son of a B*^&%!" to myself! It was most cathartic.

But the best was yet to come. It was time to solder the copper piping. I saw the blow torch. I said, with great awe, "Oh, are you going to use that?"

"Yep! Wanna do it?"

"Yes, I do. I really do," I replied.

So, he did a demo on one piece of pipe and then handed me the torch and the soldering "stuff." I never know the technical term for anything. Most things in the world are "thinga-ma-hooches" or "thingys" or "stuff."

I'm there, blow torch in hand, trying to do just what he did, and he's yelling.

"Liz! No! Higher! Lower! On top!"

Now, I think he's screaming, "Try her!" because, as I said, he has a strong accent and the blow torch was loud.

So, I counter with, "I AM trying!"

"No!" he yells. "Higher!"

"What?" I screamed.

At this point, he grabs the blow torch out of my hand and says, "Liz, you make me nervous. You have blow torch right by drywall."

Do you honestly think I didn't know that, Luigi?

He took over at that point, but for 17 seconds, I was soldering my baby's room's copper pipe.

It was at that moment that I vowed that I will have my hands in each of the subcontractor's work to some degree so that I can say I truly worked on each facet of this project.

The concrete guy comes next Friday. Not sure what he'll let me do. But if nothing else, I will draw a little something on the concrete before it dries!

In other, equally magnanimous news, our home study was officially approved today by our agency. That was a big one. Many changes were required from the Guatemalan home study to be in accordance with Ethiopian regulations. One more signature and we can mail our dossier and be on the waiting list for our sweet Ethiopian Princess!

Luigi and his mini jackhammer