A Day in Cedar Rapids - monday 2008-08-18 0158 last modified 2008-08-18 0158
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Wake up at 2, try to be exhausted enough to sleep past the snoring.

Wake up at 5:50, grab the day's equipment as quietly as possible to avoid disturbing those who sleep for another three hours. Go help Andrew and Pat (if possible) with breakfast.

Hang out, fill up on eggs. Change into nasty work environment appropriate gear.

Get the day's assignment, start loading a truck according to the team leader: sledgehammers, crowbars, prybars, hammers, brooms, shovels, power washer, generator and lights. Lots of water.

Get lost finding the work site.

An informative sidebar on the streets of Cedar Rapids ensues here. Like Manhattan, streets run one direction and avenues in the orthogonal direction. Also like Manhattan, most of these are named with numbers. Unlike Manhattan, Cedar Rapids is not a thin strip where none of the streets and avenues share the same number, and it is split by a river. The savants decided one part would be northwest and the other southwest, thus there are two intersections that can be called 2nd and 2nd, one NW and one SW in each half. Guys! That's dumb! I drove around enough to understand some of layout, but there's no way to do it if you're from out of town, even though the simplistic naming scheme seems to be designed precisely so foreign visitors can navigate without foreknowledge. Fail. End informative sidebar.

Rip out, shovel, wash, perform whatever salvaging operations the home owner wants done for four hours, being sure to wear a mask and safety goggles. Use wrecking bar as needed, try to avoid temptation to kick and punch everything.

Proceed to 2nd and 2nd (the correct one, not in downtown) where the Rainbow Tribe has prepared free and good food for volunteers. Eat in 15 minutes, because four hours didn't finish the job.

Finish the job. Or try. I never did see one completed. My first work order had already hired and saw through a contractor cleaning out her now throughly gutted home. The second was nearly but not totally done by 5. The last couldn't be completed due to a stuck drain and lack of full communication. Still, I got to see the day when the project count hit 200 homes.

Despite numerous water breaks for socializing, sometimes with the homeowner, by 4 or 5 it's quitting time.

Get lost on the way back.

Unload the truck, wait for a shower stall to open up. Enjoy the feeling of washing away the noxious odors of mold and mildew and of getting the plaster and fiberglass out of your hair and skin.

Eat. Like you've never seen a hot meal before.

Talk over the day real quick at a project meeting, then go enjoy what Cedar Rapids and your fellow volunteers have to offer (the former - well, it is the midwest).

Lights out at 10.

I'm hoping to find another few days before the project is over. Come with.

Now that I know how to gut a house, it's time to learn how to put one up. Habitat for Humanity maybe?

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