Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Microstory 1803: Life Can’t Be Engineered

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I went to school for engineering. I didn’t even know what kind of engineering I was interested in. I figured it was better to at least have some kind of direction, rather than spending two years undeclared, and then having to rush to graduate on time. I ended up choosing civil engineering, and ultimately earned an architectural degree to go along with it. A lot of people do it the other way around, but like I said, I hadn’t been thinking that far ahead. I started out at a firm where the work wasn’t very exciting. We constructed a lot of facilities that were basically carbon copies of buildings that already existed. Sure, there were some modifications necessary for every new project, due to certain constraints, like geography, but for the most part, I didn’t find the work challenging or glamorous. A friend from college called me up, and said that he was starting a business on his own. It was going to be small in every sense of the word. We were going to build these newish things called tiny homes. They were meant to be as small as possible while including all the necessary amenities that a homeowner would expect to encounter in a normal-sized house or apartment. Space was key, and understanding how to work within the restrictions of a smaller space was paramount. I was looking for a challenge, and I found it. I had so much fun, engineering household objects to not be simply smaller, but more efficient. My job has proved that humans need less space to live comfortably than some may believe, as long as they have the right tools. I designed some of those tools. I had to continue my education since not all of this was civil engineering, but it wasn’t too hard, and I enjoyed every second of it.

One of my proudest accomplishments was a stackable washer/dryer that included a sink. It took up a lot less room than you might have assumed, and it even won me an industry award. The whole washer came out like a drawer, it was so cool, if I do say so myself. There were a few other minor contributions, like the actual mechanism for a bed that receded into the floor, and other collaborative efforts. I even literally built my own house using the skills I used for my job. I was proud of myself for that too, obviously, but the laundry sink was my baby, at least at the time. I hadn’t thought much about starting a family. I wasn’t against it, but every morning, when I woke up, I thought about my workday, and didn’t realize how much time I had let pass until a stranger called me a cat lady. I think he was just being a jerk, because he shouldn’t have known that I was an old maid, but something clicked in me that night, and I decided that I did want a family. Back then, there weren’t any dating apps, or even online matchmaking services at all. All I could do was keep going to bars, hoping to meet someone nice. Occasionally, a friend would set me up with someone, but it never worked out. After all that searching, and all that failure, I discovered that my future was right under my nose. It was like a romcom when I suddenly started to see my business partner as something more. We both loved what we did for a living, we had a great shorthand with each other, and the attraction had always been there. We both agreed we would have one child, I guess to keep in line with our shared minimalist approach to life. That didn’t quite work out. Our first two children were twins, and our third was an accident. We loved them so much, we decided to have just one more. The fourth and fifth were also twins, but it was long before that when we outgrew our tiny home. We were forced to upgrade. It was worth it.

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