With A Little Help From My Friends

Ok, I keep saying I built my own house-on some levels that’s true, but on others levels it’s pure unmitigated bullshit. Yes, I built my own house-but there’s no way I could have gotten anywhere near done without the help of many wonderful people, in big and small ways, intentional or unintentional.

First, there was the guy who sold me the trailer. Bob and his wife agreed to drive 2 hours out of their way to deliver the trailer they sold me; I never would have been able to get it otherwise, because my current vehicle can’t tow so much as a skateboard. Then there was my father, who generously let me take up a big chunk of driveway parking the trailer, and an even bigger chunk of basement space with the construction materials that accumulated during the building process. He also offered invaluable help in other ways, from helping remove the original wall panels to letting me use his table saw to prep many feet of flooring (yes, I still have all 10 fingers.) Without being able to use his tools and space, I never would have gotten anywhere. Then there’s Melody, the woman who was generously giving away a room worth of recyclable wood flooring for free (see my previous post about the trailer’s floor.) My friend Tommy helped me finish the floor, spending 6 hours on a sunny March day crawling around the floor sanding off the old finish. He’s also been an invaluable companion on other missions, from Home Depot trips to junkyard excursions. He even took one for the team when a 10′ piece of ABS pipe I bought to make a solar water heater put a crack in the windshield of his Civic. (We were in the drive-through at Taco Bell, so his sour mood was soothed by cheesy tacos, and insurance did cover it.) Then there’s my stepdad, who came over with his Sawzall and cut 2 holes in my trailer, for a window and a skylight. I could go on all day; there’s numerous other people who have offered me advice, inspiration, building tips, encouragement, travel suggestions, and moral support. They are restaurant regulars, friends, hardware store staff, family, former co-workers, random strangers-and even my family’s dog (that’s the moral support). Anyway, my point is, it takes a village to raise a house. In America, we like to celebrate the “self made” person, who made their way in life with no help. Unfortunately, I think this has led to a culture where people reject help unnecessarily, don’t offer help when they could, and can’t accept that any big project inevitably is a group effort, whether or not that is easy to see. There is no shame in accepting help when it is offered; be happy that you have people around who would like to see you become successful. Don’t be afraid to take the hand that is extended to you. Just always remember to give credit to those who have helped you become successful, and remember that one good turn deserves another!

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