The past few days have been unbelievably busy in the work arena and in the middle of December that's a beautiful thing. For those that don't know, I'm a general contractor. My primary focus is on specialty concrete coatings, but I've also done several other trades through the years such as framing, sheet rock and painting.
Most of this knowledge I gleaned from my dad as I was growing up. You see when something around the house needed fixing or doing, he didn't pick up the phone book and call someone at random, he picked up the tool belt and called down the hall to his three sons. "Come on guys, we're painting the house this weekend." would not be an uncommon phrase heard in our home. Neither would, " Boys, we're putting in a sprinkler system and new lawn."
Now actually doing these jobs was quite the process. The reason, there was only one way that any of them could and would be done. That was the Gene Bach Sr. way! My dad was an expert in all fields of home renovation. Never mind that some things he had never done before. In no way did that influence his ability to be the world's foremost authority on any subject. This would be painstakingly played out in his detailed instructions on how every aspect of a particular job was to be done.
If painting the house was on the agenda, he would start by giving us the complete history of how paint was made including, oil based, latex, varnish, shellac, primers, base coats, sealers and any new concepts that hadn't reached the market place yet. This would be followed by a 'Everything you ever wanted to know about a paint brush, but were afraid to ask' speech. He would then continue to enlighten us with wisdom concerning all the other items we'd be using throughout the project. By the time I was ten years old I could tell you more about painting supplies than most paint store owners.
Following the 'History of paint' portion of our morning we would then be treated to a 'How to properly prepare a house for paint' session. All the joys of scraping, sanding and priming were magically brought to life right before our very eyes.
Once our chemistry and physics lesson was complete it would now be time to learn the masters skill of application. As you might have guessed, this was no short explanation and turn them loose type of talk. It was a highly detailed demonstration of how all houses on the planet should be painted. In this chapter we would learn firsthand how, by example, to properly apply paint to a vertical surface. It should be noted that no paint can was to be opened until drop clothes were meticulously placed around all areas where a droplet of paint could possibly find the ground. With these precautionary measures in place and all shrubs and flowers trimmed or tied out of the way (insert whole other lesson plan here) it was now time to open the first can.
For the next several hours dad would show us how he wanted "us" to paint the house. As he would dip the brush into the paint and spread it onto the house he'd continue our education in proper technique by showing us over and over and over again how he wanted it done. Then the moment of truth would arrive, our 'graduation ceremony' as it were. Just before we passed out from boredom of watching him do what he wanted "us" to do he would hand over the brush or roller to one of us. You could see the clouds part and hear angels sing as this moment of greatness was thrust upon us. It was like a passing of the Holy Grail from the master to the pupil.
Now is when the tension would really mount. Would our hours of training pay off? Would we have truly learned the one and only, correct way? With the first stroke of the brush our skills and memory retention would be put to the test. Inevitably one of us would paint from left to right instead of the other way around and dad would spend the next hour on a refresher course to instill that we got it.
About this time my wise and crafty mom would come out and look at us to see how it was going. She would be greeted by our usual rolling of the eyes or a mock strangling of ourselves from the sheer frustration of watching dad all morning. She'd give us a wink or a smile and then find some pressing need for dad to come into the house to 'help' her, or if she was exceptionally cleaver that day she would get him to go up town for something. At this point my brothers and I would go into full commando mode, attacking the house from all possible directions. We would paint like Micheal Angelo on steroids. By the time dad would return we'd be well on our way to completion and he'd see that all his instructions had paid off.
This is pretty much how all the projects around our house went and after we had grown and knew how to do all the things he taught us, he took the roll of supervisor. We would later refer to him as Inspector 12. Dad's methods may have seemed excessive at the time, but I must admit it has made me one heck of a detailed oriented contractor today. He taught me valuable lessons such as taking pride in craftsmanship and working hard, both of which I find the general workforce to fail miserably at today. There were times when I though I was going to lose my mind from his comprehensive instructions, but I wouldn't trade them in now for anything. Thanks dad for taking the time, sometimes lots of time, to show me how to accomplish anything!