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Kentucky Summer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     "Zack,these boards just won't fit together."

"I'm coming," Isaid, trudging over the red Kentucky clay and hopping onto the plywood floor ofwhat did not yet look like a house. The boards in question were part of anexterior wall we were constructing that would be lifted into place. They weresupposed to lie end to end, but they were not straight, and making them fittogether was difficult. I tried pushing the ends away from each other so theycould slide into place. No luck.

"I have a simple solution," Isaid, grabbing a piece of scrap wood and removing my extra-long metal framinghammer from my tool belt. "Stand back, please."

Holding the woodagainst the joint of the two stubborn boards, I brought the hammer down,delivering three hearty smacks. Some of the volunteers jumped with surprise. Sureenough, the top board slid into place, flush with the other. Anyone who thinks asquare peg can't fit into a round hole just hasn't tried hard enough, I thought,smiling to myself. That, or they don't realize the power of a framinghammer.

Tony stood authoritatively on the edge of the house, the hotlate-June sun bearing down. His tool belt was more elaborate than mine. Atoothpick hung in the corner of his mouth. Large aviator sunglasses kept me fromseeing where his eyes were looking. He appeared to be studying the blueprints.Tony was the carpenter in charge of framing the house; I had worked under him allweek, helping organize volunteers and handling small jobs.

It wasFriday, and the work was almost complete. All the walls, both interior andexterior, were done; all that remained was to put up trusses for the roof.Something seemed to be bothering Tony. I watched him from below, his knees levelwith my eyes, as he alternately looked at the blueprints and the house. Headjusted his toothpick. Suddenly, he crumpled the blueprints into a ball andthrew them in disgust.

Trying to remain unfazed, I asked, "Thatbad?" Ignoring me for a moment, he retrieved the blueprints and carefullyuncrumpled them. He turned toward me, sunglasses hiding hiseyes.

"Yeah" came his simple reply. When he did not elaborate, Ipressed him, thinking something very fundamental was wrong.

"What isit?" I asked.

"We built it backwards" was the short answer,the reply of someone who is upset.

Not wanting to assume the worst, Iprobed even deeper. "What did we build backwards?"

"Thehouse."

I learned many things that week in Kentucky. There willalways be someone who doesn't have the skills or the knowledge that you do.Helping and teaching them is a blessing. And everyone - from the volunteerhammering in a single nail to the man in charge of it all - everyone makesmistakes.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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