Friday, 29 August 2008

Excellent Workmanship

We're living with my parents right now and loving it. We live in the country, in a forest. When I look out the window I see blue skies, mountains, pine trees, birds, a deer now and then.... It's a big difference from our city life, living on the 6th floor of a 12 story building, riding elevators up and down, looking out the window to see more big grey buildings, cars, people, and business.

When I was growing up here my dad always had a project going around the house. He built a deck out back as well as in front, he converted our garage into a family room, and built a bigger garage. He replaced things, painted things, and sanded things. And he always did excellent work. Right now he's putting a french door onto the side of the family room. I've been watching him use his balance to make sure things are exactly straight. He uses some other thing-a-ma-jig tool (I'm not fluent in the language of workshop-ese) to make sure the corners are exactly 90 degrees, and then he measures and re-measures. It brings back memories of watching some amazing craftsmanship in Turkey.

After we'd been living there a few months we decided it was time to buy a table and chairs. We went downtown, picked out what we wanted - a simple dark wood table with 8 chairs - and asked to have it delivered the following week. We didn't know much Turkish and so it was really quite the feat just getting that much communicated.

The next week came and our table arrived. A man carried everything in and set it all up. He then went around the table and one by one checked to see if the chairs wobbled. Apparently he hadn't measured to make sure the legs were all the same length ahead of time. Instead he brought a hand saw with him, and if a chair was a little wobbly, he turned it over and sawed off a bit of the longest leg then turned it upright again and gave it a little shake to see if the wobblieness was gone. He did this over and over with all the chairs until he was satisfied that they no longer wobbled and then he left.

James and I stood watching in confusion and disbelief as our chairs got shorter and shorter. We didn't know Turkish and couldn't really say much about it, so we just watched. After he left we swept up the sawdust, picked up the little squares that were once parts of our chair legs, and re-arranged the chairs around our table. Since the legs had all been cut, some chairs were taller and some were shorter... and they all wobbled. Our flooring wasn't exactly flat, so the only way to keep the chairs from wobbling was by leaving them in the exact places where the carpenter had tested their wobbliness.

Amazing workmanship. When I told my dad about it, he just shook his head.

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