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      “On your knees! Get set! Sand!” By Larry Biddison

      b 10291871Oh, the joys of volunteering! I say this without irony in the aftermath of my recent experience painting a floor with friends. For some time, I had noticed that the floor of the wrap-around porch of the Hamilton-Gibson house/office had been losing its luster—indeed, its coat of paint. Prepping and painting a floor was the sort of project I could have managed by myself twenty or thirty years earlier. Well, just as I was concluding that I wasn’t the one for the job, I mentioned my powerlessness to a friend. Bob said, “I’ll help and I’ll bet you can get one or two others to join us.” In no time at all, Linda and Terry volunteered. All I did was coordinate the effort (with a bit of labor suited to my reduced mobility).

      On a recent Saturday morning four of us— a set designer, a ham actor, a meditation guru, and a trout catcher—convened at 29 Water Street to tackle the job of refinishing the large porch floor. Linda was already there when I arrived at 9, then Terry and then Bob. Good humor and witty chat prevailed as we worked. In the course of sanding, power washing, and painting, we all revealed skills that had lain dormant and unknown by the others. As coordinator of the effort, I was appreciative of the cooperative spirit and the spontaneous efficient division of labor. As if by instinct, each person attacked a different portion of the floor with a hand-held sander and, in short order the job was done and we called it a day.

      On the day of power washing, once again the volunteers arrived ready to work. After hooking up a couple lengths of garden hose and plugging in the electric power washer, Terry, Linda, and Bob took turns with the magic wand. We rested a week while the floor dried and the donated porch and floor enamel appeared, along with brushes, rollers, and pans. The weather was perfect on Painting Day. Linda and Terry chose paint rollers for the floor; Bob and I chose brushes for the edges and corners and the porch steps.

      Seeing an “impossible” task accomplished so efficiently has re-enforced the truth that teamwork works miracles. I am understandably grateful that Bob and Linda and Terry joined me in this undertaking, thus not only renewing my waning self-confidence but also increasing my awareness of the power of cooperation.

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