Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We May Not Know a Lot About Insulation, BUT...

You may think that five college senior girls may not know a lot about construction and repairing homes. And you would be right. At this point in our lives the five of us are renters, and not too many matters come up where we are called to fixing our walls or ceilings. However, we have read a few books, been taught by some scholars, and have met a variety of people from all different walks of life. Case in point, we have picked up some tricks of a few trades in our lifetime. Which is why we found ourselves having to dig our teeth out of our tongues and confront our project manager on Day Two in New Orleans.

The day was apparently meant to be one of confusion when we started by making at least seven "legal U-turns" thanks to our trusty GPS navigator we affectionately named, Nigel. After quite a few loops around Downtown New Orleans' Canal Street we finally made our way to the 12th Ward on General Taylor St. where Della Jones lived. The house was quite a change from Marilyn's whose house was practically finished when he had left it the day before. To say we were overwhelmed by Della's home's condition would be an overstatement. When we walked in there was absolutely nothing that resembled a home. Just a bunch of studs and random objects left from the storm. We had absolutely no idea what the five of us could possibly be capable of doing to improve this house. We hoped to find some hope and instruction upstairs. Unfortunately, our news was made worse. Five freshman guys from Ohio State University and two teachers from Columbus, OH were already up there working on the remaining dry wall left to be put up and looked at us as if we were in over our heads. I suppose five giggly girls could give off that perception. Basically they had no idea what we could do since they were already using all of the dry wall tools. So they told us to call Mark. Mark was the project site manager for Operation Nehemiah, and we soon came to find that he was just as informed about construction as we were. Construction management may not be my forte, but that's just the thing. It probably should be a project manager's.

Mark told us that before we could do the dry wall downstairs, which we would be doing in the days to follow, we needed to put in insulation. Cool, great, our job was easy because as it so happened, insulation was already put in all the walls on the first floor. So I gave Mark a ring back informing him our job had already been completed. Oh no, he shot back. Insulation still needed to be put in the ceiling. The ceiling on the first floor. Knowing my lack of knowledge on the matter I decided to keep my mouth shut that putting insulation in the first floor ceiling seemed a bit odd. I went back to the rest of my group and gave them the instructions. They also found themselves scratching their heads over the situation. Yet, what did we know? It's not like any of us had ever installed insulation anywhere before. Up the ladders we then went with our hammers and nails, and down the fiberglass came. It didn't take long for us to realize we were not prepared in attire for this sort of project. We needed masks, goggles, and gloves at the very least. We also had needed answers to a few puzzling questions we still had about insulation. After some dialogue with real experts, our fathers and the Home Depot employees, we felt we had to speak up. We found out that a) our bodies needed far more clothing and wool for putting up insulation and b) insulation on the first floor is in fact an uncommon feature in a house. Mark received another phone call from us that afternoon. He did a little side research and promptly called us back five minutes later to let us know that no, insulation on the first floor was actually not needed. A whole morning's work down the drain.

Back upstairs we went where we were possibly misinformed on the world of drywall, but received lessons on it nonetheless. As boys will be boys, they put a bit of swagger in their step and showed us how to cut and install drywall while leaving huge gaps in between them. It didn't look right, but once again what did we know. We were just five giggly girls. If nothing else, we made some good friends out of them as a few nights later they let us know out of concern of encroaching tornadoes to the area. While the day was frustrating at points we did learn a lot. For instance we now know how to install insulation and the proper attire to wear when doing so. We also found out that we might not know a lot about construction, but we do know more than the people we're working with.

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