It's hit or miss after a day of hammering nails at a Habitat build whether you'll finish with just an aching arm, or have a mashed thumb to go with it.
On April 14-15, Inforians from several offices around the Dallas-Fort Worth area came together to help build a house with the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.
Software engineer Toby Prangnell offers this tale:
I lost count of the number of nails I either bent or dropped off the roof. I must have pounded in hundreds, and my "hammering arm" was exhausted by the end of the day (along with the rest of me).
I managed to avoid any hammered fingers or thumbs, but Brian Severski, whom I was working with for most of the day, showed me a nasty blister that emerged from his thumb after a missed hammer blow.
There were only a handful of people from our Dallas Stemmons office on-site that day, so most of my time was spent working with people from other Infor Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area offices that I had not previously met. The initial conversation naturally centered on work: Which office are you from? What is your position? But after a while, it became personal. I had a lengthy discussion about beer preferences, BBQ grilling strategies, places to hang out in DFW and, of course, comparing notes on our children (where applicable).
This was the third Habitat for Humanity build day I have participated in, and each time, I've been able to work on a different activity. This time, I spent the day nailing roofing boards to the roof beams that were established on the previous day's build. That meant spending most of the day on the roof, climbing precariously between roof beams whilst trying to remember to not look down!
For each board, we had to place it correctly, then measure the distance between roof beams to make sure it was consistent before nailing it into place. There were obstacles, such as pipes, that we had to negotiate around or hammer holes for, which provided some opportunities to exercise our collective math skills as we made various measurements to determine how to proceed.
At lunchtime we were provided boxes of BBQ food (brisket/pork/turkey sandwiches), chips and a cookie. We sat on the front porch of the house and ate, drank some iced tea, then went back to work. There were some lunch boxes left over, and after a while, we caught sight of a stray dog sniffing around. A few seconds later, we saw him running down the street with one of the spare boxes of food in his mouth. He looked like he could use a decent meal.
The day was very rewarding, not least because it was more physical activity than most of us would experience on any given Friday, but also because of the knowledge that we were building a permanent home that hopefully will stand for many decades, and be a place where a family will experience a significant part of their lives. We were literally putting a roof over somebody's head.
The house we worked on is destined for a man who is going to move his parents in with him. The Habitat team were very keen to let us know that the house is not going to be given away. Rather, the recipient will be paying a subsidized mortgage and will also contribute many hours of his time to assist with the project. Knowing that his time and money are going into the house, too, really motivated us to perform to the best of our abilities and to make sure his house would be as well built as possible considering it was built in part by software company employees.