Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Construction Rapido – Año Tres

Two of our three boys are in Mexico right now over spring break. Son Number Two would be there with his brothers, but his high school Europe trip for seniors was scheduled over spring break this year instead of right after graduation.

It was actually a tough decision for him, because of how much he enjoyed Mexico the last two years. His brothers are back in Mexicali with a huge group of other high school and college kids from our church, so at this point, I’d like to formally apologize to the country of Mexico for anything my children may say or do while in your beautiful country. Deep down in their hearts they mean well, I think, but they are complete yahoos, especially when in close proximity to each other.

I would also like to formally apologize to Europe. We’d appreciate it if you’d excuse any questionable teenage behavior with Number Two and his friends, and let him come home on schedule.

The group in Mexicali is building houses and holding mini church camps for the local kids. Son Number One is on a construction team building a house for a family in need, and Number Three is on an “Impact” team, getting his butt kicked in soccer by niños y niñas half his age.

This is Number Three’s second year going on the trip, and Number One’s third year. The stories they bring back are amazing. I mean, building houses and serving poor communities is great, and the families are incredibly grateful, and it changed how my sons view the world and got them to understand how blessed they are to live in America with our abundance and prosperity and access to opportunities and all of that good stuff, but that’s not what is most amazing.

The thing that blows my mind about the trips is how fast you can build a house in a country with basically no laws.

If you ignore the whole child labor law hassle it really opens up the workforce. Granted, your average high school freshman isn’t necessarily a huge asset to a construction team, but you always need grunt labor alongside the skilled labor. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on human resources issues and paperwork with child labor, because they have no rights anyway.

The houses they build have full electrical, with ceiling lights and wall outlets and everything, but that goes incredibly fast when you can just install all the wires and then immediately cover them all up with drywall without waiting for a city building inspector to show up and check everything first.

The same goes for the framing, plumbing, insulation, windows, roof trusses, shingles, etc. Just build it and move on. Get at least one person on the project with construction knowledge and a plan, add the proper amount of high school monkeys, and you can build an entire house in three days.

Literally. Three days. They usually have another day and a half of exterior and interior trim work and painting, but the house is up, functional, and weather-tight in three days.

The trip leaders keep the Instagram feed stocked with daily photos, so we have proof that the boys are alive and well, the house is progressing, and everyone seems to still have all their fingers. That’s a win.

If my Grandpa was still alive, he’d tell you about the time when as a young married man, he bought an empty lot in town, dug a basement, bought an old house across town, moved it over on a large truck, and set it on top of his new basement. My mom grew up in that house, and we got to go see it a few years ago, still standing.

Things used to be simpler, and they still are in places like Mexico. If you bring some construction know-how to the party, you can get a lot done in a short period of time. And it can be accomplished very inexpensively when you rope a bunch of kids into helping.

But only if you’re able to take away their cell phones.

You see, that’s the other thing that makes this all possible. Along with the absence of building inspectors and over-regulation, the kids don’t have access to their phones for the whole week. They are amazingly able to concentrate on and complete tasks.

If they were allowed to have their phones, that three-day house build would turn into six weeks, with 57,000 “I’m building a house” TikTok dance videos and two million selfies posing with power tools.

I don’t think my grandpa would approve.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge

No comments:

Post a Comment