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Opinions

Custom House and a long time

The Mt. Hope Scrolls

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When I was a senior in high school, the seniors could have lunch off campus, what a treat. Four of us would pile into a friend’s VW bug and head to McDonalds. What could be better than a pack of French fries and a large orange drink? One day we had to drive by the VW shop to get something checked with the windshield wipers on my friend’s trusty bug. We pulled up to the shop and out came a young looking guy. He asked about the problem and went back into the shop, he came back with a special wrench. The metric system was troublesome back then. He made a little adjustment and the windshield wipers were fixed. He charged a dollar for the little adjustment. We were all amazed at the speed of the repair and the money that he made. $60 dollars an hour in 1970 was a lot. We spent the rest of lunch talking about skipping college and going to Volkswagen repair school.

The dream of being a VW repairman never came about. Fast forward now to 50 years later, another friend is building a house. This house has been in the construction phase for over 3 years. He is sort of a perfectionist. Part of time is consumed in the planning that goes into everything in the house. He knows exactly what he wants and that creates a little problem. He told me that half of the time is spent finding someone that will do what he wants. Building a custom home is not for the impatient. 

He had to interview five cabinetmakers to find one that would build some secret panels and hidden doors into the cabinets. Most of the people he interviewed said that what he wanted couldn’t be done. It turns out that many of them just couldn’t read his plans. He found one guy that said he could build what he wanted but it would take some extra time to do the intricate work that was described. Once that was settled the intricate work began and was not much of a big deal.

Many things in his home take some intricate planning and some repetitious cuttings and fittings. Once the workers got over the length of time required and found out that they would get paid for all the work, the project seemed to take on a life of its own. Seemingly, no progress was being made but miraculously things would come together and be a beautiful room or feature in the house.

He said that the hardest part was to be patient and make sure that the workmen would do what he wanted and not what they wanted to do to make the job go faster.

We talked about the VW repairman of so many years ago. Some things that seem so simple took a long time to learn. That experience can be a long-winded lecturer that we have to listen to. The hardest part can be deciding what it is exactly we are trying to get. Once that is decided, a working plan and the patience to continue is going to be a long project to bring to fruition.

His house is almost complete. It has all sorts of neat features that make it truly one of a kind. After all this hard work he says he is going to go celebrate this long project. He plans to go to McDonalds and get a pack of French fries and a large orange drink in my honor and for old times sake.

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