"You can't eat food here! This is a restaurant!"
It's really too bad that this diatribe, sputtered by an indignant waiter at the Copenhagen airport, is among the most memorable statements Sally and I heard on our 2006 European vacation. Well, that and "You're on the wrong train", but that's another story.
The waiter's words came back to me this morning as I was reflecting on the striking similarities between European travel and kitchen remodeling. You may recall that Sally and I are engaged in a remodeling project. Yesterday, after trips to two warehouse stores shopping for a faucet and floor tiles, and an afternoon and evening consumed by planning and revising plans for our next steps, I realized that this process is a lot like a European vacation. In each case:
- We planned the event for months before actually engaging in it.
- We spent an incredible amount of money weeks before seeing any tangible result.
- We planned each day, and then ended up doing something else after finding out that the museum was closed, or what was actually behind that wall.
- We dealt with rude and uncaring people.
- We met some extremely caring and helpful people, even if they didn't know more than we did: "You're on the wrong train." "You can just cut that copper tube, and we'll crimp it off."
- We wrestled with foreign languages: "escutcheon plate", "You'll wanna put down thinset before laying your backerboard", "Nee, Geithorn!"
- We repeatedly pulled out a wad of cash and peeled off bills, asking hopefully, "Is this enough?"
Perhaps the most striking parallel is the discovery that we could actually do a better job ourselves. In the case of European travel, after being seated in the VERY LAST ROW for every flight, and being given an electronic ticket that was only missing 3 numbers, and trying to book a trip to an island our travel agent argued did not exist, we made most of our own arrangements. We may not have done everything perfectly, but it became our trip.
We are now newly baptized members of the DIY (Do It Yourself) remodeling community. The project is going in new directions now that we are without the benefit of rude professionals to tell us what kind of flooring we should like. Cork, by the way, is perfectly appropriate for wine bottles and bulletin boards. Our kitchen may never be featured on Hometime, but it will be ours.
Looking back now, our European trip was an absolute delight. Even the snooty waiter occupies an honored place in our memory. I am so looking forward to looking back on this kitchen remodel in the same light.
And speaking of lighting, do we want a low-voltage puck light there, a pendant, or another can light?