My friend John and I did a Habitat for Humanity build yesterday, and I used muscles I've neither seen nor heard from since about 1986. I graded a lot with a metal rake, a round shovel and something ominously dubbed a "rock spade." That was actually an outrageously heavy metal thing that's taller than me, with a thin flat spade-like blade at the tip. The job was basically to use that thing to bust up hills of clay that had dried to near rock-hardness in the kiln-like Oregon summer, then use the shovel and rake to redistribute the smaller pieces around the lot, thereby creating a flatter surface.
After awhile, the site leader took pity on me and offered me a job inside painting, but I'm stubborn and egotistical, and I was going to win. Which accounts for the fact that, twenty-four hours later, I still can't stand up completely straight. And because I'm a big whiny baby, I've been emitting little yelps and moans all day while moving around.
What all this means, of course, is that I haven't done a real day's work in about a decade. I won't say I've never done it; during college I pulled plenty of double shifts as a waitress. But as annoying and grinding as the law can be, I never had to push my body to its outer limits on a daily basis.
I'm going to do it again, of course. There are too many people living in crappy housing to whine about how hard it is. John goes about once a month, and we agreed that I'd go along from now on.