Fortunate Hands

As the sun rose, Ted completed the drywall and taping on the interior. He insulated the walls and completed the exterior with tongue-and-groove wood panels, opting for three smaller windows instead of one large bay. He built the standard-sized window frames just above the level where headlights would typically shine in to avoid the previous problem.

At 9:00 a.m., Ted phoned a window-replacement company, adding that if it delivered the windows that day, he would pay cash on the spot. He asked Jack, a painter friend, to pick up an olive-green and trim color to complement the pale brick tone of the house.

At 11:00 a.m., the window company arrived and cleanly slipped the three units into Ted’s frames. Ted paid in cash then took out the trim pieces he had precut the previous evening. Since it was daytime, he was able to fire up the compressor for the nail gun and knocked out the trim in minutes–inside and out.

As he was finishing up, the load of topsoil he had ordered arrived; the tire ruts were filled in and groomed, and the entire front yard was seeded and covered with straw.

Jack arrived with the paint and promptly put the first coat on the paneling and window frames. As it dried, he went into the house and found a fresh pot of coffee waiting. He shook his head. “I’ll never know why this guy retired,” he said as he coated the interior walls, chuckling at the expert taping job his friend had done on the drywall.

Friendly Banter

The gardeners left and Ted yelled, “Jack? Can you watch the house for a minute? I’ll be right back.”

An hour later, Ted pulled in the driveway with his pickup hauling four handsome shrubs. He went straight to the garage, measured, and dug four holes in front of the house beneath the new windows. He filled each with water, set a shrub in, closed up the holes loosely with peat moss, and added all the remaining construction debris to the pile of bags and cans on the front lawn.

Fortuitously, it was garbage day, and at 2:30 p.m., the truck hauled the debris away, and Ted returned the empty cans to the garage.

As Jack gave the wood a final coat, he had to work around the new shrubbery. It was a “typical fight” among contractors. Ted tried to pay Jack for the work, but Jack refused.

“At least let me reimburse you for the paint,” Ted countered. Jack relented and said, “OK, that’s 20 bucks.” Ted finally said, “Oh, too bad–all I have is a fifty. Keep the change.” Jack smiled, hugged his old buddy, and was on his way.

After hosing down the driveway as well as the front sidewalk, Ted walked a magnetic detector over the lawn to catch any stray nail or screw. He went in the house, vacuumed the carpet one last time, and admired the interior handiwork Jack had done. The guy was an artist. He re-hung the family photos, and took a shower, realizing he’d not eaten or changed clothes since the previous day.

No Charge

Alex was at the dining room table when Ted emerged from the bathroom. Like Jack, he was practically “family.” Going through the stack of receipts Ted had accumulated in the last 24 hours, Alex said, “There’s a lot of material out there that isn’t accounted for here. Plus a carpenter’s time, a painter’s time, a landscaper … those all come at a premium.”

Ted towel-dried what remained of his hair and smiled. He asked that Alex tally a total that would be more reasonable than risky, and merely insure his monthly insurance bill did not go up. Alex completed the check and handed it to Ted with a complimentary 2010 calendar. “No charge for the calendar,” he said with a smile.

No-Fuss Holiday

After Alex left, Ted headed to the corner diner for a big breakfast, then drove his truck through the car wash to clean all the dirt from the shrubs, and finally stopped at the grocery store to pick up his turkey and review the cooking instructions with the butcher, just to be sure. On the way back, he deposited the check in the ATM.

Back home he stocked the cupboards with all he needed for his family and friends’ arrival, and finished setting up the dining room as he had started to do a day or so ago. When complete, he turned on the television and settled back in his chair. There was plenty of football to enjoy during his favorite holiday. Just as he began to drift off for a little nap, the phone rang. It was little Ellie. “Grandpa, we’re coming to your house tomorrow,” she said.

“You are? Oh, I am so looking forward to seeing you, Ellie.”

The little girl giggled. “What have you been doing, Grandpa? Do you need help setting the table?”

He smiled and nodded to himself. “You bet I do, honey. Will you help me tomorrow when you get here?”

She giggled again, “Of course, Grandpa. Mommy says men never know what to do without help from ladies.”

Page 2 of 3 | Previous page | Next page

Related posts:

  1. The Hands Of Time
  2. Don’t Play The Fool
  3. Information Junkies
  4. The New You
  5. The Boys Of Summer
  • Columns
  • Departments