The three of us sit on the single bench seat of the white pick-up and watch the road as my father drives to the outskirts of town where the new houses are being built. He pulls into the driveway of a house that has uncovered two-by-four walls and a roof of plywood sheets.
“Take the brooms and the square points, the wheelbarrow is in the backyard,” my father instructs. Ricky gets the brooms and I grab the shovels, my father drives up the street of unfinished homes.
We start at the back bedroom and shovel all the big stuff into the wheelbarrow. It’s still cool, the day is just getting started and the wheelbarrow fills quickly.
“Next time we only fill it half full,” Ricky announces as we try to get the wheelbarrow to move.
“You hold that handle and I’ll take this one,” it looks weird but with one of us on each of the wheelbarrow’s wooden handles we slowly move the pile of construction waste to the dumpster. The unloading took just as longer or longer since it needed to be done by hand and everything had at least sliver potential if not a sharp edge or nail. The work continued all morning, it moved from loading to sweeping, from sweeping the floor, to raking the dirt around the framed future home. By eleven o’clock it was looking pretty good and when Jimmy’s father showed up with an ice chest filled with lunch it was something to be proud of.
Jimmy’s dad has a big smile on his face, “this looks great!” he says looking around, his smile only getting bigger. “It really makes a difference. “The sheet rockers do a better job if they have a clean place to start and the plasterers take more care with their mess if the area looks this nice!” He leans up against the wall of two-by-fours that will someday be someone’s bedroom and opens up the lunch chest, Jimmy and Ricky sit on the concrete floor on each side of him and realize just how hungry all the work has made them.
After eating and resting a few minutes Jimmy’s father shares, “And now I’ll let you see the mess the sheet rockers and plasterers leave behind. He points out an earth tone, green gray, house up the street in a cul-d-sac, they load all their stuff onto the wheelbarrow and head that way. Jimmy’s father takes off in his pick-up truck to do what ever is next on his list.
“Your dad wasn’t kidding,” Ricky says before even getting inside the house, the yard is filled with bags, piles of green and gray plaster, coffee cups and lunch bags. What must have been a hamburger or burrito left on the front porch had been stepped in and tracked into the front room. Inside the house is the same but with joint compound and fall off pieces of sheetrock instead of piles of plaster.
“We’d best get started,” Jimmy says. “This could take awhile!” Out come the shovels, it will be some time before brooms can be used. “Just think what this would be like if it hadn’t been cleaned up after the framers finished!”