Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've never really been good at being the "helper." As a child, when my mom would make cookies, I'd ask to help. The end result was usually flour, sugar, or some other ingredient dumped all over the floor and my mother shooing me out of the kitchen. I was notorious for making messes (still am). When my grandfather would fix the car, I would stand patiently beside the gigantic tool box while the only visible part of him were his legs sticking out from under the front of the vehicle. He would ask me to hand him a ratchet. Picking up tool after tool I would say "Is this it? Is this it?" After about a dozen "is this it" questions, he would patiently crawl out from underneath the car and grab the right device he needed to do the job. Over the years I've just figured out that the best way to "help" was to stay out of the way.

Last week my brother had a decent sized storage shed for his ATV's erected in our backyard. He decided if he didn't have the contractor paint it, he could get the next bigger size and paint it himself. This is where I came in. The building is pretty tall and he couldn't balance on the ladder, hold the paint tray, and reach the peak of the building. "Its not hard Mandy, all you have to do is hold the tray," he said. Like a fool, I agreed. After all how hard could it be, right?

Maybe now would be a good time to mention that the shed is right on the edge of a hill. Holding a half full painting tray at shoulder level, watching your brother precariously perched on a ladder balanced on a tree stump and a concrete block, while wearing flip flops concentrating really hard on not literally rolling down the hill, is not as easy as it sounds. First there was a fly that kept landing on my arm. Then there were the weeds that kept tickling my ankle. After that my forehead needed scratched. Of course the dog wanted in on the action and kept walking around the ladder that I was convinced was going to kick out from under my brother at any given minute. But I couldn't worry about any of that. I had one job to do, hold the tray.

After about 20 minutes my mind started wandering. "Mandy, you're spilling it," my brother calmly said. Apparently when my mind wanders, my hands forget to hold the tray evenly. 15 minutes after that, I figured out I could balance the tray on my boobs, hold the tray with my left hand (which somehow ended up covered in paint) and scratch my forehead with the right. About 10 minutes after that, my left arm went numb. 3 minutes after that my right. Back to balancing on the boobs with one hand while trying to restore feeling to the other. All the while trying not to complain, because my brother almost never asks for my help. Usually its the other way around. At one point he was alternating between using a roller and a brush. "Do you want me to hold the brush?" I asked. "No." "Why not?" Being the smart little brother who ended up with all the common sense his answer was "Because I'm pretty sure you couldn't hold the brush and balance the tray at the same time." Of course, he was right.

After an hour and half, my job as "helper" was finished. He has one side of the shed painted. He'll need help with two other sides and I think he asked Big T. I'm not sure why, I thought I did a good job-- I only spilled the paint 3 or 4 times; I only asked him about 10 times if he was sure it was safe to be standing on the top rung of the ladder; and I only dropped the roller in the dirt and pine needles once. If that's not a good helper I don't know what is.


chickbug said...

hehe. love it.

and by the are also a great "helper" by leaving calming advice on peoples blogs. =)

Andy said...

Hahahah... I totally agree on chickbug. Maybe your help is not MATERIAL, just SPIRITUAL. There, you rock all people's ass.

I am very like you in that messy dumby way. I always know how to create a mess, even on Martha Stewart's house.

Jess said...

Ugh that sounds like a terrible helper job. I wouldn't complain about being relieved of duty!

Rachel said...

Big boobs are like a form of evolution! I consider them a third hand at times.

Bayjb said...

Yeah helping others is tough. I give you credit for trying to help, making the offer is the most important thing.

Unknown said...

You crack me up. Can I trade lives with you for awhile? As much as I love living in downtown Chicago, the idea of having a yard big enough for a field and actual outbuildings makes me giddy.