Monday, June 14, 2010


I have worked outdoors, year round, for most of the last ten years. From drenched in sweat to clothes layered 7 deep and standing in snow. It's a very humbling experience to so up close and personal with the weather, being out in the elements nearly all day, just so others can sit back and be warm/cool.

Now that's not lame attempt to gain pity, it's just given as defining the perspective from which this post comes. I have an understanding of "suffering" that is quite unlike the vast majority of the rest of "you people". :) I can "feel hot" I have nerves just for doing that, they report their data to my brain. I feel hot. I sweat, so long as I keep water flowing, I can operate until I been to feel overly hot. For me I begin to notice I feel sunburned, not possible in the attic, but I don't care what I'm doing, even if its just one more screw. I go out, I drink water, I lay down and I wait until do not feel hot anymore.

It's all biomechanical function that will be required of someone else if I am not up to the task. Where most people go wrong is they have learned that sweating is suffering. So when the water begins to bead up on their skin, they also simultaneously fire up their Drama and Suffering subroutines. I've learned to smile and be happy I wasn't born 30,000 years ago, I get to go home at night and take a cool/warm shower and enjoy some comfort! And I sweat. In air conditioner duct fabrication you get cut, it's just part of business. One could possibly wear gloves, but the speed loss and frustration of fumbling with small screws will try any but the softest of hands. I just scrub them clean with soap and a nail brush and apply antibiotics. I'm learning to avoid stitches... they're expensive.

I remember once, this woman walks outside, complaining about how she's been suffering all night and couldn't sleep, her house was up to 76 the night before and had been climbing nearly one degree an hour!... And I believe the heat index was 110 or something like that. The unit was on the sunny side of the house on a windless day after an early afternoon shower. I was drenched with sweat before I even set my tools down next to the air conditioner. I don't mean drenched the way most of the world understands this to mean. I can take off my shirt and wring sweat out like it was dipped in a bucket of water. One thing I can do, and do well, is sweat. I can load up a cotton T-shirt in 15minutes if it's over 95. And for the most part, it doesn't phase me. So long as some bonehead doesn't come along and kick start my Drama Subroutine with some lame attempt at Heat Humor. I grew up southern, in a trailer park... there was no internet, no game consoles, and parents still had dominion of the television set, and mom was addicted to All My Children, which, ironically meant for an hour or two every day, her real kids were a nuisance! Every good child molester learns the favorite soaps of the kid's moms, trust me on this one. If the dishwasher guy starts asking when you're watching your favorite TV shows... get a broom and a knife and chase him out of the house... do not ever let this guy babysit for you.

When they come out with their cold drink joking about how hot it is, and how busy you must be, What it really means is, "why aren't you hurrying? My house is a sweltering 78 degrees" One can tell when the people are more concerned about how long it will take the service elf to fix the Magic Cold Thingy, than how busy he is or how long his work hours are... They're the ones that bring you a glass of ice water ...

and arrive with an umbrella to give you shade. I wanted to propose to that woman, but she was 73!. She'd been mowing her yard when I arrived and after I got started she went to get ice waters for the two of us. II wound up driving away smiling and shaking my head and wishing I was 30yrs older. Acted like she was offended when I offered to finish mowing the yard! It was pretend acting, but still, what a trooper! When I'm 73 I hope to be half as healthy and good natured.

So back to sweating. I listened to this audio course once that was about biological anthropology. It was like 34, thirty minute lectures, and so interesting I did not even play City of Heroes for nearly two weeks. (those who know me are rubbing their foreheads, as their eyebrows achieved Maximum Height Cramps). One of the conclusions that hung with me the strongest was SWEAT. God bless it! If He made me, I indeed am grateful for my sweat. According to the audio series though, we evolved the ability to sweat, and our very primitive ancestors didn't have to be very smart at all really, just clever enough to learn how to follow animals by their tracks, and carry water in skins or containers. The nuts and bolts of it are simple, large animals with furry pelts do not sweat. In the heat of the day, if a human being harasses an animal, preventing it from getting water, the animal will run until it falls down, it will die within 15 minutes. Not even a sharp stick or rock required. It's called Endurance hunting. I have used this understanding of my sweat to see my work in a more humbling way than I know how to explain. In a way, I guess, I'm proud that I sweat, or that I am cold sometimes. I never have to feel like I didn't earn my pay!

Last night when I sat down to wait for laundry to finish, I hit the BBC channel and it's a show about... my favorite thing, SWEAT and it's a bit about the bushmen of the Kalahari desert. They still hunt this way.

This short documentary clip is the exact bit I saw last night, I found it on YouTube

Summed up: guy chases big animal, guy sweats and drinks water from canteen, guy keeps animal from drinking water, animal runs, animal falls down and dies, no need to even stab with a sharp stick or bleed it to death with a sharp rock.

This is really the "evolutionary" advantage that has made us what we are today. Sweat. Food got easy after sweat. So when I find myself in an attic during the summer blowing insulation for people who earn sick money in Nashville.... I sweat, and I am content to be a good sweater, and rather than get tangled up with my Drama Subroutine and mix up a batch of Suffering, I pay very close attention to my body, and how long I'm in the heat, and how much water I drink. (apologies to my Xwife for suffering through the occasional hateful text message before I learned better)

Drama kills people in this line of work. So be proud of your sweat! Don't feel like your suffering just because you're body is having to do what it does best! DRink water. Endure. It's what Our People do. We sweat.

It's the ones that don't sweat anymore you need to watch out for... they've become better than what they are.

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