Posted by: Rob | June 12, 2007

Sweat Equity

I learned yesterday that when it comes to building homes, sometimes you’ll raise a wall or install a floor, and sometimes you’ll do what we did most of the day: move heavy stuff around. But that’s okay; by the end of the day, we had organized tools and staged materials for the next rounds of home construction and fence installation. It may not have been glamorous, but every part of the process is critical.

Highlights of the day for me included hearing first-hand stories about the Katrina floods from one of the city’s water and sewer workers, watching musician Edward Lee participate in a ceremony at his under-construction home, and taking the occasional water break with my Berklee builder buddies.

After Edward Lee’s wall-raising ceremony, we were sitting in the shade of a nearby church trying to reach our cab company when a kind police officer who only wanted to go by the name of “Officer J,” offered to give us a ride home in his pickup truck. He said he saw us sitting there, hot, sweaty, worn out, and didn’t hesitate to make the invitation. After everyone else piled into the bed of the truck, I figured I would join Officer J. in the cab, which was, yes, air conditioned. Score. “After what you all are doing for us, of course, I’m giving you a ride,” he told me.

cab_ride.png

Roya and Matt look at the passing houses from the back of the pickup truck as we travelled through the Upper Nine on our way back from the Musicians’ Village.(photo by C.Jones)

While we drove through the Upper Nine back toward the French Quarter, Officer J had me laughing even while he was telling me extraordinary stories about wading in neck-deep water through his front door eight days after Katrina hit. “A lot of people were going crazy, but I just tried to keep my head on straight, and stay relaxed,” he said.

His calmness paid off in acts of heroism, one of which he told me about. I won’t go into all the details today, but here’s the short version. It was a few days after the storm when he and a few colleagues finally found the time to try to find a friend’s relatives, who they suspected, were still stranded in a housing project where they lived. Once the vehicle hit Rampart St. (the edge of the Fr. Q.), they had to get out and wade toward Armstrong Park, at which point, the crew was able to get a boat and make their way to the other side of the city to find the relatives. But just as they boat floated toward the building, Officer J. and his pals heard shots ring out, so they dove under the water to avoid getting hit. Eventually they found and rescued the friend’s relatives. His act of generosity toward the Berklee crew yesterday was completely unexpected and extremely generous. But considering what Officer J. had been through, his New Orleans pride, and his get-it-done attitude, taking a few sweaty Habitat for Humanity volunteers home was, for him, a no-brainer. We are grateful.

Today’s key for building success: Bring more Gatorade!

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Good-bye, Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
    Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou.
    My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

    (Chorus)
    Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

    Thibodaux, Fontaineaux, the place is buzzin’
    Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
    Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

    (Chorus)
    Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

    Settle down far from town, get me a pirogue
    And I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou
    Swap my mon to buy Yvonne what she need-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

    (Chorus)Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
    ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
    Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: