Date: 20th November 2013
In #gigatownWanaka and the surrounds we are blessed by having a wide range of skilled people, from computer boffins to those burly guys who dig drains and pour concrete. Angela Mollard from news.com.au takes a look at the skilled manual workers out there and suggests we could all learn a lot from the way tradies live their lives.
“What are you writing about this week?” asked my husband as I walked out of the bathroom huffing for the 70-billionth time about how the washers on our taps need replacing.
“Tradies,” I smirked. “I’m going to write about what the rest of us can learn from them.”
“What we can learn from them!” he spluttered in that way that always precedes a masculinity-threatened rant. “Like how to turn up and bugger off at lunchtime. How to charge what you like – usually the first number that comes into your head after 1000. How to swan around delusionally proud of your own bum crack.”
In the interests of marital harmony I should say he has a point. But he doesn’t.
Because from where I sit, perving through my window at three builders sitting in the shade of a ute enjoying smoko, it seems tradies of both genders have nailed (sorry, couldn’t resist) the secret of life.
Now I could rave about their athleticism and how we all love a bit of manual proficiency but I find it’s rather foolhardy to ostracise your non Blundstone-booted readership. We love you too oh suited ones but all of us could benefit from a bit of chippie chill. So, here, a few tips from the tradie toolbox:
Manual work brings satisfaction.
Sure, we outsource everything these days but the last time I painted our bedroom (2004) I was so overcome by my own handiwork I insisted on showing everyone. “Look how I’ve cut in there,” I pointed out to anyone who’d nod enthusiastically at my fascinating application of four litres of Antique White. A good session with a paintbrush is worth a dozen self-affirming platitudes.
Use hands, liberate brain.
Ever notice how tradies know stuff? While the rest of us were holed up in our ivory towers earnestly discussing Keynesian economics or didacticism in 18th century poetry, sparkies et al were thinking about interesting ideas. My plumber mate Shane invented vertical gardens before they were even a thing and he’s the only person I know to have read Shantaram. He lent it to me a year ago. I gave it back last week. Unread.
Solutions beat problems.
Every corporate type I know is binning Xanax or learning to meditate to deal with the stress. If they’re not dealing with problems they think they are the problem. Not so tradies who spend their lives magicking up creative solutions to get round development applications and U-bends. Solving stuff makes you like yourself.
Physical labour saves a motza on gyms.
Last time I went to my gym (2011 or thereabouts) I saw Tom Williams there. Ha! I thought. Now you’re a TV star you have to bench press and do tricep dips and lots of angsty mirror checking. When you were Tom the Chippie you built your biceps by hammering and phoning up radio stations.
Plumbing beats plaudits.
My friend Sarah is married to a top ranking soldier. Just weeks into their relationship he was home from Iraq on leave and she phoned to see if he fancied dinner (aka sex). She recalls: “He said, ‘I’m in the bathroom boxing in some pipes’ and I almost died of excitement. Bugger the war heroics, the squadron of tanks and the chestful of medals including the newly-acquired OBE. All I could hear was A MAN WHO COULD BOX IN PIPES and was therefore someone to marry and keep forever.” Turns out, she emails, he’s “also good with electricity, cars and blood.”
Rise early, finish early.
Tradies work to natural circadian rhythms. Yes, they’re up at 5.30am blending smoothies which is a pain if you work in foreign currencies and have been Skyping London past midnight. But, hey, they’re home by 4pm, freshly surfed, cooking dinner and folding the washing. Awesome sauce.
If the tradie had nabbed the lady …
We wouldn’t have had to endure an interminable season of Carrie chasing the midgets Mikhail Baryshnikov, and two appalling movies charting her (frankly, pathetic) attempts to bag the boring Mr Big. That gorgeous furniture maker Aidan was the best bloke in Sex and the City. Seriously, why would you opt for a chauffeur-driven ponce when you could have had Mr Handy With Tools?
Money is boring.
My banker mate reckons tradies are the next wave of millionaires. But do they bang on about it? Nup. They stash it away, build themselves a nice house at mates rates and retire at 45 whereupon they take up yoga and philanthropy.
Since their entire business is built on good customer relations, tradies are natural humorists. “We don’t want any PLC’s do we Hilary?” said a builder, grinning as he briefed a tiler in front of my newly-qualified interior design friend. “I just nodded,” recalls Hils. “Turns out PLC means pissy little cuts.”
Any person in possession of a spirit level tends to have a nice dog.
Righto (note tradie speak) must go Google how to change a washer.
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