Newsflash: I did not miss a calling in construction

The year I graduated high school which, horrifically enough, was fourteen years ago in that magical year known as 2000, I went on my first church mission trip.  I actually only ever went on two mission trips.  This one, and the other one the following year.  Anyway, so, we went to West Virginia.  Twice.  I know, all the cool kids these days are going on trips to Africa and Honduras.  We went to West Virginia and don’t judge, because it was really cool.

I’m not going to show you a picture of what I looked like at age eighteen.  Suffice to say, every little girl goes through that awkward stage.  Mine just happened to last from age eleven to age nineteen.  In fact, many years later I won an “awkward childhood photograph” award at my former place of employment, utilizing a picture of me at age 12-ish, dressed like a banana.  Holding a banana.  Dressed like a person.

This has nothing to do with building a deck.

So, we’ve established I was awkward at age eighteen.  The mission trip was about a week after my eighteenth birthday.  Our mission was to build a deck on the front of a woman’s house.  Here are the qualifications I brought to the table:

  • I played with Lego’s as a child

photo (2)Despite this, we managed to build the deck in four days.  I think four days?  Anyway, this sassy little picture I’m showing comes straight from my high school scrapbook.  In case you can’t read the caption–which I’m sure you can’t, since it’s a picture of a picture–says, “Day Two: Our hammering improves slightly.”

I’m the girl with the red handkerchief in my hair and my sleeves rolled up.

With this solid construction background in my past, I recently said to The Hubs, “Hey, wouldn’t a deck on the front of the house be really fun?”

“Why yes,” The Hubs said, “but they cost like, $5000 to build.”

False, as a matter of fact.  We enlisted the help of my father-in-law and he and The Hubs set to work.  You know, being manly and trying to keep their cell phones out of direct sunlight so they didn’t get too hot.  A lot of work got done.  And then, Saturday, my father-in-law said to me, “Do you feel comfortable going to Lowes to pick up some more screws for us?”

“Absolutely not.”  I said.

“Okay,” he said.  “Here’s what we need.”

I have photographic evidence that at age eighteen, I was able to hammer nails into some wood and make a deck.  At age thirty-one, I am not actually much use doing anything that requires a hammer, screws, drills, measuring tape, levels, or sweat.  Especially sweat.

“Um.”  I edged away from the deck.  “I really need to go to the grocery store.”

“That’s fine, we’re still about two and a half hours out of actually needing them.”  He handed me an empty screw box (screw box?  That sounds vaguely obscene and I apologize for that, but that’s what it was.  The discarded, empty box of that formerly contained screws).  “We need these, in 2 1/2, and in tan.”

I wrote this on the outside of the box.  “Well, okay then.”

Things began to go wrong when I got in the wrong lane attempting to actually get to the hardware store.  I accidentally dropped the F-bomb.  You know, in front of my child.

“What’s stuck?”  The Preschooler asked.

“Nothing.”  I threw my car into the next lane to the right and floored it up a hill.  “We’re good.  Everything’s good.  Right lane.  Nothing’s stuck.  Right lane now.”

Obviously, I turn into Rain Man under pressure.

So, after meandering through what seemed like seventeen lanes of oncoming traffic and grabbing a spot within quasi-viewing distance of the front door, The Preschooler and I made our way into the building.  When it comes to navigating Lowes, there’s one thing I can always find, without fail.  The bathroom.  I cannot, however, find anything suitable for using when constructing a deck.  I initially hoped that an employee would see the look of confusion on my face and point me in the correct direction, but no.  Not an employee to be found.

So, what’s a screw?  No, not screwing employees in order to find what I need, but what category do screws fall under?  Hardware?  Sure, it seems legit.  The Preschooler and I made our way to Aisle 18: Hardware.

Which is where the furnace filters were located.

No.  No, I don’t have patience for this crap.  So, I saw two female employees standing nearby, discussing…something, I have no idea what, and I thrust the plastic box out to one.  “Can you help me find these?”

“Sure.”  One took the box and charged down an aisle not even remotely close to the hardware aisle.  She pointed at a section of screws.  “This size?”

“No,” I said.  “I need 2 1/2 in tan.”

“Tan doesn’t come in 2 1/2.”  She handed me another box.  “This should work, though.”

An hour later, after grocery shopping and stopping to get our mail, I delivered the box of screws to my father-in-law.  “They don’t make 2 1/2 in tan.”


I took a closer look at the box which displayed, in very thick bold letters, “2 1/2 in tan.”

What is this?  Sarcasm?

With that, I hung up my construction hat.  I went back in the house and made brownies because, be the feminist you want to be, but this kid is happier to stay inside and bake–then subsequently eat–brownies instead of working with the boys outside.  As a side note, the deck isn’t finished yet because monsoon season hit Pennsylvania early this year and we’ve had more rain than we know what to do with.  Well, I know what I’m doing with it.  I’m relishing the fact our well has water in it and we’re not brushing our teeth with bottled water.  Again.

Next week we’ll put on some of the more important deck features, such as but not limited to the stairs.  And then, this kid is peacing out and going on vacation.  What’s that mean?  A week shirking responsibility, that’s what.  And writing.  Let’s hope lots of writing.

And if I don’t write, at least I’ll have a sturdy deck that I didn’t build to sit on while I come up with excuses why I’m not writing.  Problem solved.



  1. You have *got* to include this story in a book somewhere, somehow! Hilarious! Were the employees just “screwing” with you? Sorry for that, but you knew it was coming! 😉

    1. LOL!! I eventually stopped making eye contact with people. I’ll take charge in a grocery store (“the maraschino cherries are with the ice cream toppings”) or Sears (“boot leg is not flare and here’s why”) but I know nothing about construction. Other than the fact I’m not going to be doing it!

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