Monday, April 16, 2012

Family Jobs and Muscle Pain...

First, let me say that my blog has officially been turned down by just about every advertiser on the Google network. I am not good enough for Target, Alaska Airlines, the Home Shopping Network, and some online venture that sells dildos. Pretty damn disappointing, but in retrospect, who would really want to advertise on a site chock full or cynicism and irony, top ten lists of things to do (but do very carefully) and with a readership of six. Perhaps those folks just do not know how powerful six people can be. I am making a personal stand to boycott all of the above unless they offer me free stuff - including dildos. I will proudly display them right next to my baseball cards.

You really have to be careful about the jobs you take on. My best friend, albeit a twisted and strange relationship, has bailed my ass out on many occassions- not literally bailed me out of jail - that has yet to happen, but has saved my rear from financial ruin, poor decisions, and doing really stupid things - so I owed him. Big time. What was the job - fix a minor plumbing problem in one of the rentals. A small problem - no big deal - well, it was a big deal. It was a basement apartment - in Florida - (for those of you who do not know, Florida is swamp, sand, and limestone - the first two were what the foundation of this home was built on - and for an unknown reason, the damn thing had sunk) - and basement apartments are filled with little problems - like settling - that cause plumbing issues. I walk in - and in front of me is a bipolar tenant, a tub filled with three days of human shit, and a toilet, proudly displaying its inability to flush without running into the tub. Brilliant. I was looking forward to catching hepatitis, and every other itis there was, but most of all, I was looking forward to figuring out a way to fix the damn problem. A tub full of shit and a toilet that too easily refilled the tub with shit. Hmm, sounded like a problem that my Dad could help me with. well, a week later, 60 hours of labor, I can proudly say that the tub has officially been raised four inches, there is a city sewer attached to the house now, a lift station has been designed and installed, the sewer to the house has been repiped, and I still smell like shit.

Good news, the problem is fixed, the place is rented, and I was able to get the crap out from under my nails. Bad news, that is the last family project I ever undertake again. My little brother, a hard worker, was there for four or five days, Dad was there forever for a couple of days, I spent endless nights digging, filling, gluing, cutting, cleaning, regluing, recleaning, and running to Home Depot for every imaginable plumbing fixture under the sun. I am happy that it is over. I am glad that we did it together. I am pleased with the work, but the experience was not one I care to remember....

It has been a while since I have posted a top ten list - but I am going to give it a try - we shall see how humerous this is...


1. Clean out and replumb a tub full of shit together. Your Mom always told you to eat your greens - now you have the opportunity to show her how well you have been doing. EXCUSE TO AVOID IT - Plumbers get paid $175 per hour for a reason.

2. Grading a slope for drainage problems. There is nothing more serious than a one-legged man with a shovel. There is also nothing quite as funny as a one-legged man with a shovel. Think about it. EXCUSE TO AVOID IT - Think Bob Cat.

3. Any project that requires your children to use a wheelbarrow and a shovel over spring break. Sure, all of the other kids went to the Bahamas or to Disney - you will be providing them with a life long lesson - stay in school, or every spring break will be filled with wheelbarrows and shovels. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO AVOID PUTTING YOUR CHILDREN TO WORK - IT IS A CHARACTER BUILDER.

4. Any Home Depot DIY project. The reason they call it DIY - is because you first try to do it yourself, and buy parts from them. You screw up, break things, and have to call a professional who does it for you, and buys the parts from Home Depot. They get twice the money, just for blowing sunshine up your ass about your skills with a drill and a screwdriver. Note - if you are good with a drill and a screwdriver, that does not mean you can install siding on your house. EXCUSE TO AVOID IT - Since they installed self checkout lines in Home Depot - you now have people who are looking for something they don't understand, paying for it at a machine they cannot figure out, and returning it to a lady who could care less what their problems are. Avoid this.

5. Paint a room using a highly toxic scented paint. There is nothing better than three or four family members in the same confined space, high off of fumes, yelling at each other about who ate the last bowl of Lucky Charms when you were in the tenth grade. By the end of the evening, after your buzz has warn off, things will seem much clearer as to why your life went in the direction it did. EXCUSE TO AVOID - Beer and wine at Thanksgiving have the same affect. Use this to your advantage.

6. Build a swingset kit together, preferably one of the ones that is manufactured in China using some rare lead based stain with screws that fit no standard set, and instructions written by an english second language student somewhere in Xiang Dao province. I did this once - sure it leaned six inches, and there were a ton of left over parts - but the speed and efficiency that I displayed trying to get the hell away from the "helpers" led to a 427 part swingset being installed in less than an hour. Neat thing is that there have been no lawsuits or untimely collapses....yet. EXCUSE TO AVOID - Sixty minutes a day is the new slogan for kids - just so happens the park is a thirty minute walk away. Perfect.

7. Repair a new car with anyone over or approaching 65. Remember when cars were engines and there was room to get your hands around parts - good. That does not exist anymore. Under the hood is a sheer block of aluminum surrounded by neatly packaged blocks of aluminum, all bolted together with the same bolts that were used for the swingset above. Send your grandfather in search of the oil filter. Two hours later, go outside and see if he has found it, or if his hand is stuck somewhere in between two blocks of aluminum. EXCUSE TO AVOID - Oil changes are 19.99 for most makes and models.

8. Help your folks move from a 4,000 square foot home to a 1,600 square foot home. Turn the two car garage into a storage and stack everything that they may really need all the way in the back on top of sixteen underpacked boxes. That way, you can count on a phone call every two weeks or so wondering where all of the underwear or towels went. Make sure to put things like outlet testers, or fertilizer, or tupperware in front. This will ensure a phone call. EXCUSE TO AVOID - Listen, I have moved more crap in the past six months than I care to mention. I am 40. My back problems are just as real as their back problems.

9. Install a surround sound system and wire in every device known to man, including a tape recorder, a reel to reel system, an eight track cassette player, a solid state turntable, and don't forget an X-Box 360 and a 72" TV set. Then, get a 170 button remote. Leave. Just let them figure it out. EXCUSE TO AVOID = Much like the furniture moving, the remote will garner a large number of phone calls. Best thing to do - plug everything in so that the time is blinking, but only hook up the cable box. Easy fix.

10. Build something without directions or guidance. Just go to Home Depot, buy a shitpot of odd items, get some nails, and glue and tape, and invite everyone over and tell them to start working on your platform garden or your left handed deck or your additional built in bookshelves. Just be prepared to hear the right way, the wrong way, the cheap way, the fast way, the hard way, the old way the easy way, the new way, the creative way, the best way, and the only way to do it. By the time you are finished - if you finish, the new found respect you have for each other is profound.

All in all, the project was fun. I was able to pay things back and forward and help out a friend. Next time, I am going to help him find a phone book, and just go to lunch or dinner with my family.

Until next time...


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