Saturday, February 04, 2006

How Much for Your Soul?

My boss paid me an unintended compliment. She saw some some pics of my marble bathroom (I show those pics around the office like most people show baby pics) and asked if I would do some work at her place...for money.

This is flattering, but not a good idea for several reasons:

  1. My house is only half-finished, so I shouldn't be taking time out from it to do side projects;
  2. I do home-improvement like I do law. No, that doesn't mean "incompetently". It means that I am a perfectionist and take my time to make sure everything is meticulously perfect. If I charged for home improvement by the hour it would be so expensive that it would be unjustifiable. If I charged what a contractor would charge, it would take me so long to do it, that when you figured out the hourly rate, it would be less than minimun wage;
  3. My boss has the ability to promote (or fire) me. When I unintentionally cause a flood at the ninja fortress, I can laugh about it afterwards, but I don't know if she will see the humor in such episodes;
  4. She lives in Bethesda, and the only place I am allowed to work on in Bethesda belongs to the Toolbelt Diva. Which reminds me, I need to take some pics of the "repairs" her ex did (with scotchtape!) before I fix them so that you readers can all tell her how much better skillz I have than her ex (you know, drywall skillz, nunchuck skillz, bow-hunting skillz).

Moreover, I enjoy home-improvement stuff because I do what I like when and how I like it. If I took money for it, I don't know if I would like it anymore. In fact, while I don't mind doing stuff for free for friends, the thought of taking money for it seems kind of odd. Especially, if you think about it in other contexts:

Boy: Hey, would you like to go on a date with me?

Girl: No thanks, I already have a boyfriend.

Boy: What if I pay you?

Girl: huh? What kinda girl do you think I am?

Boy: You know what kinda girl I think you are. I just wanna' know how much!'s kinda weird, isn't it. Plus, if I took money for it, I think it would make me like a real contractor, which is not something I see myself as (I wasted too much money on all those degrees). Although my dad and grandpa (and a lot of my uncles) were contractors, and I have a lot of respect for it, my family didn't have the best of luck in that profession. My grandfather died on a construction site (in front of my dad), and my dad broke his back on a contsruction job (in front of me), and I almost died on a construction site. This would've been particularly tragic since I have no kids yet. I think it's pointless to die unless your passing can inflict irreparable trauma on one of your heirs. Sort of like a gift that keeps on giving. A kid can lose an inherited watch, but it will takes years of therapy to keep your gruesome death from haunting their memory. And if things are ever slow in the spirit realm you can always go visit and move furniture and make strange noises. You, know...because it's tradition. Ahhhhh, family...good times.

So basically, construction is really dangerous stuff. Statisically it's way more dangerous than being a doughnut-eating cop, which is only slightly more dangerous than being a, really, you can google it if you don't believe me. Plus doing construction is hard. And I'm used to sitting in an office all day. And not risking life-ending injuries.

Being a lawyer is not very dangerous. I guess divorce lawyers occassionally get shot by people they sue and criminal lawyers occassionally get killed by people they release from prison (in some sort of karmic justice), but being a derivatives lawyer is a pretty sweet gig. Besides the money, which is the best part, no one ever comes in with an AK-47 and guns down an office full of lawyers because they don't like the new revisions to the ISDA Master Agreement.

I think I enjoy my job. Although not as much as my friend, Viet-Mom, who told me yesterday that the only way she would ever leave her firm is if they carried her out...either in a pine box or a straight jacket. What devotion!

If I did ever decide not to be a lawyer, I don't think I would trade it for construction. I think maybe I would be a writer, a standup comedian, or maybe I would open up a restaurant. But not a big fancy one. I want the small intimate kind where I can throw people out if they don't like the way I cook the steak.

Waiter: Well, I took your steak back to the chef and told him you said it was undercooked. He wasn't too happy about it.

Customer: I don't care. I'm the customer, and I'm always right...right.

Waiter: Look...when I said he wasn't happy about it, I meant he went to his car to get his samurai sword to disembowel you with it. I think you better run



amanda said...

I am sure that Toolbelt Diva knows that you've got mad home improvement skillz.

Unknown said...

Too funny - just last week my boss was telling me about a quote given by a tile contractor to tile his bathroom at home that was outrageous. He know's I can do tile work and asked me if I'd be interested. I declined for many of the reasons you gave but of course I just told him I didn't have the free time right now to do it. I can't see doing work in the home of one's boss would ever be a good idea!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention "cooking skillz", you can make a mean sesame chicken stir fry. :)

Roar Savage said...

You def made the right decision. What excuse did you give your boss?

Sandra Dee said...

I saw where you'd subscribed to my blog. Thanks! I'll be back!

Roonie said...

I'm not sure I so much see the connection between that analogy and your situation...

Anonymous said...

Take the job. Tell her your going rate is double what she pays you for your real job. Say is you do this work on the side all of the time. Look her straight in the eye. Maybe this will give her a moment of panic (or at least a moment of pause) when she considers that you could make more money than what she is paying you. Lol....its all about making the employer think they need you more than you need them ;-)

Jess Riley said...

marble bathroom? I suppose you could call mine a "study in linoleum and second-hand fixtures."

Thanks for weighing in on the author photo survey! I think #1 came out on top.

HomeImprovementNinja said...

nightmare_on_elm_st: well, she's seen me do some stuff, but she is more impressed with my salsa-dancing than my drywalling.

Denny: Just say no. That's my motto.

Toolbelt Diva: Yes, but before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me speficy that it was a macho stir fry. And I don't wear an apron when I cook. I wear ninja body armor.

RoarSavage: I just said that I was too busy with my place. Which is true.

Sandra Dee: thanks for linking to my site. I bet I bumped up a notch on google for that.

Roonie: Trust me the analogy is good. It's like abstract art or experimental jazz. You have to be really into analogies to see it.

StuccoHouse: I feel bad enough I take their money at work, I can't possibly justify 2x my salary for stuff that other people hire illegal immigrants for.

Jess Riley: Good luck on your book. I should get an autographed copy for weighing in.

ushakanth said...

Home Improvement is to be more how to design marbles and movements. what ur said is it possible to make?