Report from Extreme Makeover-Home Edition – Pittsburgh

Today was THE day. I was actually sick yesterday, had chills and everything. But, I was NOT going to miss the opportunty to do something really good for some deserving people.

I woke up before the alarm at 7AM…jumped into the shower and put on my working girl clothes: jeans, heavy denim long sleeve shirt, heavy socks, shit-kicker shoes and went downstairs to see THAT IT WAS RAINING…and I mean POURING. It was beautiful all week for the construction phase and today was to be the cleanup phase…in. the. rain.

Alrighty then, I got out my raincoat and borrowed DD’s absolutely amazing and fantastic rainhat…it’s called The Tilly Hat…out of England…. and off I drove to the parking site where they were supposed to shuttle you to the house.

Operative word there…SUPPOSED to shuttle. Apparently, for clean up day, there was no shuttle and there were a number of us in the lot who did not bring the mapped directions to the house because we thought we were being shuttled! So the security guard called over to the site and they said they would send someone and we could follow them back.

Well, we followed them back and had to figure out where to park on a virtually one way street (not really, it was just a very narrow two way street) and after a number of maneuvers, we got parked. Now, they said to bring picture ID and register when you got there. So I got my driver’s license out and put my purse in my trunk.

Uh-huh. So, we walked to the site and NO REGISTRATION. Apparently, on clean up day there was no registration, no waivers to sign, nada, zip, nothing. OK, cool, let’s get to work!

Riiiiiight. There was also nobody there to tell us what to do.  Hmmmm, let’s see. Six thousand people volunteered and 600 were selected, and that DID INCLUDE the clean up people, i.e. ME.

So we went down to the volunteers food tent and got some coffee and waited for someone to come. Well, FINALLY a little guy showed up and told us to glove up and we were going to do a ‘sweep’ of the street. (Oh, I forgot to mention that there were about 10 local people and about 30 teeneagers from Kent State University’s Interior Design program…mind you they drove 3 1/2 hours to get to this site.)

Did I mention it was RAINING??? 

So, first job for ME was to pick up all the trash bags that had accumulated for God knows how long and take them to the curb for pickup. Some of the KSU kids did that too. Then, if you know the kind of plastic containers that hold 2 liter Pepsi bottles, there were hundreds of them stacked everywhere…they also had to be taken to the street and restacked for pickup…

In the mud.

Next up, we all took large contractor’s rubbish bags and started to do the periphery cleaning. We were instructed to pick up (and I quote), “every single thing you see on the ground; cigarette butts, scraps of paper, plastic, cans, bottles, candy wrappers, every last thing you see on the ground.” 

Try to picture 40 people in the unbeleiveably torrential pouring rain practically on their hands and knees picking up every tiny scrap of anything that was on the ground.  Please note that this wasn’t just in front or to the sides of the new home…NO,NO, NO…this was for about a quarter mile…basically from where we had parked our cars all the way to the end of the street where the people lived and EVERY. SINGLE. HOUSE. on the entire street, both sides.

Did I mention it was also only about 45 degrees and that it was RAINING??

After we finished that, we were TOLD TO DO IT AGAIN!!!!  A few of us just looked at each other. I went back to the food tent and figured I would clean up in there because there would be something to clean up. So, I got out of the rain for about 30 minutes and cleaned up every itsy bitsy teeney tiny piece of detrious that I could find in the tent, and then decided I needed a cup of coffee.

It was about 11:30 now (we had been in the pouring rain for 3 hours already and tiny man comes back and says we should start taking down all the signage and put it in its designated place and others could start cleaning out the VIP tent. Yeah, you read that right, the VIP tent. 

Picture this…a HUGE circus type tent that was set up between two of the neighbors homes..inside were lots of large round tables (that had been set beautifully for the VIPS (read Ty and group) and on each of these tables and placed strategically throughout the tent were gorgeous flowers in huge pots…mums and other seasonal flowers…that had a least a dozen primo uncarved pumpkins, corn stalks, etc. I’m sure you get the picture and our instructions are to TOSS IT ALL AWAY.

Well, us locals looked at him and said, “ARE YOU CRAZY? That’s a complete waste of resources! ” To which he replied, “Oh, well, I guess if you want them you can have them, but we just toss it all out.” OH, NO, NOT IN PITTSBURGH you DO NOT just TOSS IT OUT!

So, I got a gorgeous mum which I am going to plant in my front yard on SUnday WHEN IT IS NOT RAINING and everyone else got the plants and pumpkins and stuff they wanted. I think maybe 2 things were tossed out.

Next we get called down for lunch…it is about 1PM. And we are all shivering and freezing becasue IT DID NOT STOP RAINING THE ENTIRE TIME.  Had a dandy mexican -style lunch…all the KSU kiddies were filling up on freezing cold soda while us oldsters drank hot coffee and hot tea and hot chocolate and shivered.

By this point in time, we had walked the entire neighborhood 2 or 3 times, cleaned the food tent, cleaned the VIP tent and the production tents, moved every single drop of debris to the curb for pickup and now we were going to start carrying folding tables to the side of the road for pickup.

Well, around this time the family came back to the house. You see, the way it works is they have’the reveal’ (MOVE THAT BUS, MOVE THAT BUS) on Friday but then the family goes to a hotel Friday night. They come back for another set of interviews on Saturday and then I think they move back in on Saturday night.

Finally, it was around 2;15 and there just wasn’t anymore stuff on the ground to gather…so it was getting to be around the time for us to get our T-shirts. You don’t get them until the END of your shift. Leave early, no shirt. 😛  I was in the front speaking with some of the production folks…after all, I wanted to learn something too, not just be a clean up pixie. A couple of the locals came up and said to go down to the back of the house becasue that’s wehere the t shirts were. So, down I go, get in line behind the 30 kids from KSU and I get up to the door and guess what? NO MORE T SHIRTS. I asked one more time. “Did you say there are no more t-shirts?”  “Oh, yes, that happens very often becasue people take more than one.”

OK, now I wasn’t there for a frickin T-shirt, but I’ll tell you what….I was cold and wet and worked just as hard as those little lovies from KSU who had each taken 2-3-4 T-shirts….

Ahem…I walked right up to the Builder and asked him to get me a t-shirt. He was astounded that there weren’t any left and I explained why there weren’t any left and he siad he’d find me one.

So, small man gave his final directions and his thanks and then lo and behold, small man found me a t-shirt!

So, there was no Ty Pennington or any other member of his crew….I don’t really know where most of them were. Ty was on another job site in Illinois. There were some incredibly nice local production and construction people on site. But MOST of all and BEST of all…

I had the lucky priviledge to speak with the mom (Mrs. Slaughter) and some of the kids…and THAT made the entire day worthwhile. They were so incredibly humble and grateful for everyone doing everything…even us little clean-up people. To know that they would now have a beautiful new CLEAN home inside and outside including their entire neighborhood was what I spent 6 cold and wet hours in the rain for…and I smiled.


26 days to Specs and Cabanaland


9 Responses to “Report from Extreme Makeover-Home Edition – Pittsburgh”

  1. October 26, 2008 at 7:38 am

    It was a lot of excercise and it was good for the environment. Plus you helped make a fellow mom/woman/homeowner happy.

    Way to go Mom!

  2. October 26, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    That sounds really…well, wet. But, also cool! I volunteer with a group on campus, and there have definitely been early Saturdays when I wake up and think, “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to stay in bed?” but I make myself get up, and it turns out to be really rewarding. We participated in a Berkeley Marina project where we cleaned up the shoreline, picking up a LOT of cigarette butts. Kudos for sticking it out through the rain! Our rainy season will be starting soon, but this weekend, the temperature is still in the 80s, so we get to pretend that it’s summer for a little while longer 😀

  3. October 27, 2008 at 6:33 am

    You are awesome.

    I don’t know the show (I am assuming it is a show) but you are wonderful to volunteer to do that AND stay the whole time in the rain!

    I bow to you.

  4. October 27, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I love that show, it’s one of the only ones that brings tears to my eyes — and my husband’s. Despite the rain, it sounds like you had a great time. I can’t even imagine how hard it would have been being freezing and doing all that, and then being told to DO IT AGAIN. It’s amazing the things you don’t think about when you’re watching it. Thanks for the inside peek, it was a great read!

  5. October 27, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    What a sweet ending to such a miserable day! I’m glad you went though. I know how much it meant to you. Suprised they were so disorganized though.

    Very cool. Very proud of you! I bow before your greatness!

  6. October 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    i have a halloween party to throw on friday. if i promise you TWO (count ’em, TWO) t-shirts, will you come clean my house? it may not be raining! probably!

    c’mon! it’s a small british house!

    fine, i’ll throw in a cup of tea. and a scone. think about it.

  7. 7 judie
    October 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    great day, keep going! nice pumpkin and happy halloween 🙂

  8. 8 Lynnetta
    November 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Great job volunteering. It is one of my favorite shows on TV. Do you know when the episode will air?

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