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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Empathy for the Level

Steve and I are once again living through a remodel of our home. Oh yes, we've done it before, many times. We wouldn't ask others to go through something we never had gone through. On The Beam Remodeling, Inc. is at our house: breaking through a wall, sheetrocking, compounding, sanding, wiring, replacing windows, tiling a section of floor. There is drilling, hammering, machinery whining, and wind whistling under the temporary plywood where the old windows used to be. A gigantic plastic bubble tarp with handy floor to ceiling zipper puffs out against the breakfast table. A lovely thing to see over scrambled eggs.


We wax nostaglic over our honeymoon years, when we ripped the roof off of our first home in the Bernal Heights district of San Francisco one month after escrow closed. The next six years we lived amidst construction projects. The house transmogrified from one year to the next. I called it "organic living".


This is a good thing. This experience reminds us and once again imbues us with empathy - not just sympathy - for our clients. We don't just 'understand' what they are living through when we invade, demolish and build. We know it at the experiential level. All builders should be required to live through remodeling in their own homes (most probably do).


And at the same time it's exciting. The vision of what will take form becomes clearer every day as progress is made. We mull over color swatches and consider styles and sizes of wall sconces. The imagined dinner party in our future new formal dining room takes on a certain luster.


There is also humor to be had if we seize the opportunity. We have no cat door, so the cat must be let in and out. In she goes through the garden door and then where? Where there once was open space, there is now a plastic barrier. She's baffled until I lead her around the corner and through a new opening. The next day, that new opening has been closed and she must follow me along yet a new route. The third day, yes, it's another route, and the fourth day she merely walks in and sits down in total confusion. It's not often you see a cat do that.


Jamie Dougherty said...

Great post Lisa! It's good to know that you've gone through it too (more than once) and are always keeping your clients in mind.

Peggy and the gang said...

Poor kitty.