Fully against my will, I was roped (by my wife, no less) into helping a friend with a major home remodel. He was hopelessly behind schedule and needed to get his home ready for painting. It is an older home (dating back to the early 1900’s) with all the problems and hazards that come with it.
When you are so desperate that you are asking Other Tom for help, you’ve hit rock bottom.
So I grabbed a few tools, picked up some Mechanix Gloves (I saw Tom Gaige wear them, and he is a tool bad-ass. I figured at least half of that was the gloves.) and headed over to help my friend out. Between him, a third friend and myself, we did two weeks of work in 36 hours. How?
We talk about how bad peer pressure is with our children all the time. Don’t give in. Just because your friends are doing it doesn’t mean you have to. Blah, blah, blah. But you get three guys with orbital sanders in three different parts of a house, and what you end up with is the kind of peer pressure that can end in heatstroke or worse.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
At the end of a very long day, we all sat in his freshly sanded foyer panting, dripping sweat and sucking down beers like they were energy drinks.
“I think I’m having a heart attack,” I wheezed.
“You guys were killing me,” the owner gasped. “You’re not men, you’re machines.”
“I can’t feel my hands,” says the third. “I think they’ll have to amputate!”
It was right then that we all realized what had happened. We would stop and look around and see the other two working, so we’d go back to it. They’d do the same, but we never did it at the same time. While everyone admitted to taking occasional breaks, no one ever saw anyone else take one, so the illusion was that you were the only one slacking off (something I’m usually perfectly comfortable with).
Toward the end of the day, I was like a runner. I couldn’t see much except what was right in front of me. I could only hear the sound of my breath in my ears, and I seemed to float in a timeless void of dust and paint.
And prayer. “Please God, make one of them give up soon!” I shouted in my mind. Because it wasn’t going to be me.
And that, dear friends, is the definition of peer pressure.
Is it “bad” peer pressure? Arguably, no. No one died (or fainted, which in many ways would have been worse), and we got a ton of work done in a short time. How many projects were completed early because of this sort of pressure?
How should I know? I write editorials.
All I know is that I never want to see an orbital sander again.