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更新時間:2019/5/13 20:11:47 來源:紐約時報中文網 作者:佚名

Trash, the Library and a Worn, Brown Table: The 2019 College Essays on Money
大學申請書選登︰修理管道教給我的事

Milwaukee

密爾沃基

‘Life is a process of accepting the messes and learning to clean them up.’

“生活就是一個接受混亂並且學會清理的過程。”

—Kelley Schlise

——凱莉•施利斯(Kelley Schlise)

Not many 17-year-old girls know how to solder two copper pipes together or light the pilot light on a water heater. I venture that most people would struggle to tell the difference between a regular 90-degree PVC elbow and a street 90.

沒有幾個17歲的女孩知道怎麼把兩根銅管焊在一起,或者點燃熱水器的長明火。我敢說,大多數人分不清90度普通PVC彎頭和90度公母彎頭。

These are skills and distinctions I have learned over the past five years as an assistant to my dad in his one-man plumbing business. My summer job involves messes that constantly elicit physical and mental discomfort, and the work demands an attitude of grittiness and grace that I frequently struggle to adopt. Nevertheless, I persist. I am the plumber’s daughter and the plumber’s helper.

這些技能和特點都是過去五年里我為父親的個人管道業務擔任助理時學到的,這份暑期工經常需要處理給身體和精神帶來不適的爛攤子,而且需要堅韌和優雅的態度,我往往很難應付得來。不過我堅持下來了。我是管道工的女兒,也是管道工的幫手。

Each humid morning, I wrestle myself into a pair of used men’s jeans from Goodwill that most of my peers would refuse to be seen wearing in public. I slip my tape measure onto my belt, tie my hair back as I run out the door, and climb into the passenger seat of the plumber truck, which is really an aged white minivan with two kinds of pipes strapped to the top.

每個潮濕的早晨,我都要勉強穿上一條Goodwill慈善二手店里買來的男式牛仔褲,大多數同齡人都不願意在公共場合穿成這樣。我把卷尺掛在腰帶上,跑出家門時匆匆把頭發束成辮子,爬上管道工施工車的副駕駛座。這是一輛有年頭的白色小面包車,車頂綁著兩種管子。

As my peers begin their shifts nannying, lifeguarding or checking out groceries, my dad and I haul unwieldy toolboxes and heavy-duty saws into the depths of people’s houses. Although at times we work in the gold-plated master bathrooms of mansions with lake views, we usually end up in dank, mildewed basements where I get lost in mazes of storage boxes looking for the water meter.

我的同齡人當兼職保姆、救生員或者清點雜貨的時候,我幫著爸爸把笨重的工具箱和重型鋸子拖到人們房子的深處。雖然有時也在湖景豪宅的鍍金主浴室里干活,但我們往往還是在潮濕發霉的地下室里,我得在迷宮般的儲物箱之間找水表。

Five summers navigating the pipes of Milwaukee have taught me that the messy parts of people’s houses reflect the messy parts of their lives. My dad and I make plenty of our own messes too. When his rugged Sawzall blade slices through walls, clouds of plaster permeate the air. Sometimes there are no walls at all, and we work in primordial jungles of fiberglass insulation, floor joists and rusted cast iron stacks.

在密爾沃基修理管道的五個夏天讓我明白,房子里凌亂的部分反映出人們生活中凌亂的部分。爸爸和我也經常弄得一團糟。他用重型往復鋸切割牆壁,空氣里彌漫著灰泥的雲霧。有時根本沒有牆,我們得在玻璃縴維隔熱層、樓板擱柵和生蛌瘍掬K立管的原始叢林中工作。

I constantly leap over tangled piles of wrenches and extension cords. My mouth and nose are covered by a dust mask; my jeans are smudged with pipe dope, and my hands are blackened with the grime of a hard day’s work. As I observe the chaos around me, chaos rises within me. Nothing is beautiful or tidy; everything I see is ugly. I feel powerless, frustrated and unable to think clearly.

我一次又一次地跳過一堆堆雜亂的扳手和延長線;鼻子和嘴上蒙著厚厚的灰塵;牛仔褲上沾滿管道涂料,雙手也因為一整天的辛苦工作而變得黑乎乎的。我打量著周圍的混亂情景,混亂也在我內心升起。什麼美麗整齊的東西也沒有;眼前的一切都很丑陋。我感到無能為力、灰心喪氣、沒法好好思考。

Plumbing work is a microcosm of the messes of the world, and sometimes I despise it. I question why I endure the dust and sweat when I could be in my air-conditioned house, vacuuming my bedroom, making avocado toast for breakfast and finishing my summer homework early. I could even find another job, a normal one that more closely resembles the work of my peers.

管道工作是混亂世界的縮影,有時我討厭它。我問自己,我本可以待在有空調的屋子里,用吸塵器打掃臥室,做牛油果吐司當早餐,早早完成暑假作業,為什麼卻要跑出來忍受這些灰塵與汗水。我甚至還可以找到另一份工作,一份更像我的同齡人做的那些普通工作。

Yet as much as I despise the mess of plumbing, I despise myself for becoming affected by such trivial qualms and for being so easily aggravated by disorder. After all, the world was built by people willing to get their hands dirty.

然而,就像我討厭髒亂的管道,我也討厭自己會受到這些小小不安情緒的影響,討厭自己這麼容易就被混亂惹惱。畢竟,世界是由那些願意把手弄髒的人建造的。

And when I think about it, I cope with messes all the time. The uncertainties and contradictions of my teenage brain are far more tangled than any extension cord, but I keep trying to sort them out. Life is a process of accepting the messes and learning to clean them up, and plumbing work is no different.

當我思考這個問題的時候,我也一直都在處理混亂。作為青少年,我頭腦里的不確定性和矛盾比任何延長線都要復雜得多,但我一直在試圖理清它們。生活是一個接受混亂並且學會清理的過程,管道工作也不例外。

As much as my dad and I create chaos, we create order, and if I look carefully I can find it in each newly soldered array of copper pipes or in the way my dad’s toolboxes all fit together in the back of his van. Moreover, when customers express gratitude for our work, I understand that, in a small way, we bring order to their lives. The physical and mental discomforts of plumbing are worth it.

我和爸爸不僅制造混亂,我們也創造秩序,只要細細觀察,我可以在每個新焊好的銅管陣列中找到秩序,在爸爸貨車後座上排列整齊的工具箱里找到秩序。此外,當客戶對我們的工作表示感謝時,我明白,我們在一些小處給他們的生活帶來了秩序。管道工作給身體和精神帶來的不適都是值得的。

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