Let’s start back in mid-December. So these huge fans ran all weekend. And dehumidifiers. And blowers. I think there were three different machine-types. On Monday, I found out that it wasn’t CON’s guys who brought the drier-outers, but a “water restoration” company. I don’t understand that naming. Wouldn’t restoration indicate that somebody was going to “restore” that water? I didn’t want the water restored. I wanted it gone.
Rabbit from CON showed up in less than fifteen minutes. I wondered if he’d been waiting down the street for the “come on down.” He said he needed to make sure the concrete was dried out. “Bet you’re glad those fans are gone,” he said.
“They didn’t bother me much. I stayed down here and worked at my computer most of the time.”
“That horrible noise didn’t bother you?”
“No. It was actually somewhat soothing.”
“Guess what,” he whispered.
I shrugged my shoulders.
Really? I thought. Like he had made a discovery that might hold the key to the universe.
I was reminded of a friend of mine, a statuesque and overweight young woman, who went to see a new internist, a female, one Dr. Kia. Let’s call my friend Gritti, named for her mother’s hopefulness of having a daughter who would not only stand up to males, but might even help to move culture into a new age of gender equality.
Dr. Kia, well-known for her quick opinions and sharp tongue, said to Gritti, sitting naked on that hard table, legs swinging as they would not touch the footrest, “Miss Gritti, I’d like to talk to you about your body BMI.”
Gritti chuckled and almost interrupted, so as to put this horror show to rest. “BM’s? Oh, they’re fine. Regular as clockwork. Well, maybe a calendar. I have at least one a day.”
“If you’d quit giggling and let me finish, you’d know I was talking about the Body Mass Index.”
“Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h,” Gritti answered, “you mean….”
“No-o-o-o-o,” Gritti answered, as she slid from the table, missing the footrest, the paper cover floating away toward the hateful chart. “Get me a mirror!” Gritti called as her bare bottom hit the floor. “I didn’t know I was fat!”
“Rabbit, get me a psychiatrist, I didn’t know I was bonkers!” I didn’t say it. I was afraid he’d start apologizing and I’d have to tell him how much his opinion meant to me.
“This next step is where the noise is,” he said.
“The jackhammering?” I asked.
He nodded slowly and crept around the basement area. After maybe a quarter-hour, he announced that his guys would present themselves in just a few minutes and then he left. I stayed downstairs to greet them. I sat at my desk and laughed about Gritti, then I began to dawdle. I got on Facebook–same thing as dawdling except if the dawdler is drunk. Then it’s called yammering.
However, I call what Rabbit was doing “yammering,” and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t drunk.
I left my desk to make some diet Swiss Miss with some of the water I’d brought downstairs in a gallon jug, since we couldn’t use any plumbing downstairs, and sat back down. It was almost eleven o’clock. “Dang,” I said out loud, “another hour and they won’t be getting here this morning.” The truck pulled up just as I started to stir.
The driver stepped out of the big truck’s cab and said, “Sorry if you expected us earlier. This was the morning we went shopping for the Christmas angels.”
“Like, the Salvation Army Christmas angels?” I asked.
“Yeah, we paired up and the company give one kid to every two of us. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we got.”
“I bet it was fun,” I said.
“Oh, yes, ma’am, it’s kinda the highlight of our year.”
“Speaking of ‘the year'”, I said, “we’re winding up the year with a big project.”
“Yeah, that’s what I hear. Well, we’ll get right to work. I’m Harold. I’m the lead.” He pointed to his mates. “This here’s Thomas, and that’s Dickie. Dickie, he does most of our hammering.”
“Yeah. Well, we’ll take care of you. You just go on about your day. I wouldn’t advise staying down here with this racket.”
I stayed upstairs. I just couldn’t watch the destruction–but I could hear the jackhammer very well. It wasn’t as obtrusive and annoying as I had imagined it would be. It didn’t drive me nuts; but then, Rabbit had already said I was nuts. I had no facts to support a counter argument.
Around one o’clock, there was a lull in the GRRRAKKA KKAKKAKKA KKAKKAKKAKK AKKAKKAKKAKK. Maybe they’d gone to lunch. No, the truck was still there. I stepped into The Cellar and walked around a short wall. Harold leaned against the door from the bathroom to the laundry room. Thomas and Dickie were on the cement floor, scooping rock and block from a large L-shaped hole that started in front of the toilet and wrapped three-quarters of the room.
“Here’s your leak” Dickie said.
He plowed around in the middle of the floor, knee-walked a couple of feet and said, “Here’s another one.” It was right next to the mountain of rock, dirt, and concrete they’d shoveled out of the hole.
I pointed toward the pile. “What will you do with that?”
“Aw, we’ll put it back in, don’t worry,” one of them said.
I bent over the leak nearest me. “That sure doesn’t look like cast-iron pipe.”
“It’s not. It’s PVC. It just separated.”
“What do you mean, it separated?”
“Well, nothing’s busted, no holes in the pipe, but they used some kind of sealer on this line that’s not for sewer. And it finally just wore out.”
Harold piped up. “There’s one more, too.”
“In the laundry room?” I asked.
“No, it’s over here at the corner of where the vanity sits.”
“Huh,” I said, which is what I say when I don’t know what to say.
“There’s no leak in the laundry room. The reason it was wet in there is because your drain overflowed.”
Dickie took the reins. “See, what happens is, wherever the leak is, the ground takes on as much water as it can–and it’ll spread it out across a wide area. I seen three rooms wet from one leak. But when the ground can’t take any more, that’s when your floor and your carpet, or tile, whatever, that’s when that gets soaked.”
“What happens now?” I asked.
Harold answered. “Well, now we leave this open to dry. We’re gonna go to lunch, and leave some heat and fan on this.”
“But you’re coming back?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. We’ll be back after dinner.”
“Dinner,” I said.
Harold nodded. I figured dinner meant lunch to Harold.
They were back–after lunch. They declared the hole ‘dry enough’ and proceeded to mix concrete. The great hole, a mini-me of the ravine behind The Compound, was all filled in by the time they left for the day.
“We’ll be back tomorrow to check and see if that concrete is set up. I sort of doubt it getting dry enough, but when it is, we’ll set all your stuff back in.”
I went upstairs to report progress. Dave was amazed. “You mean they found the leak and fixed it and got it covered with concrete? All today?”
“Yeah,” I answered.”I don’t think they got it smooth enough for somebody to put flooring on it.”
“This cannot possibly take two weeks. Didn’t Rabbit say it would take two or three days for the concrete to set up?”
“Yep. And they’re thinking they’re going to put the toilet and vanity back in there tomorrow.”
“Well, that means, let’s see, instead of fourteen days, this is going to take six or seven days max.”
Author’s note: I’m tired of telling this story. I suspect my readers’ eyes are a bit glazed–if any are still with me. And if you and I both are tired of this story, neither of us wonders why I might abridge the rest of this tale.
The next morning, Harold, Thomas, and Dickie were back. They parked their big white truck in the usual spot several feet from the back door to The Cellar. Dave pulled out of the garage and eased the Sienna between their truck and the house. I went downstairs to see why I didn’t hear activity.
Harold explained. “We don’t think it’s dry enough to start setting things back in,” he said. “Tell you what, we’re going to go check in on another job while we run these fans a little longer, and we’ll come back right after dinner to get you squared away.”
I heard the truck stop in the driveway below and looked out the dining room window. They were back a little earlier than expected. Dave was just returning from his workout. He eased the van toward the garage the same way he went out, between the truck and the house.
He heard the scraping but didn’t stop; after all, he knew he’d driven the van through that same spot earlier. What he didn’t know was the guys had left, and come back, and this time, the truck was a wee-e-e bit closer to the walls. When he came out on the other side, he got out to survey the damage.
Harold came out the door. “Did you just hit the truck?”
“Yeah, but it’s not hurt–unlike my van,” Dave said.
“I just have to report it back to the company,” Harold said.
We’d just sat down for lunch, Harold’s version of dinner, when Rabbit called from downstairs. Dave told us to go ahead with lunch and went back downstairs to meet him. We’d passed around everything on the table and picked up forks when we heard voices. My friend-almost-family dined with us. “I have never heard Dave talk that loud,” she said, “and that is from downstairs, isn’t it?”
“I think they’re outside.” I paused, and then added, “Yep, that’s Dave.” And his end comment was, “I was willing to pay you $14,000 for a 14-day job. I’m not willing to pay you that for a 3- or 4-day job. And I don’t care if I have to go to court.”
I started down the stairs to tell Dave he was preaching to the entire Whispering Hills neighborhood. He was coming up the stairs to eat, said he was finished, said Rabbit was going to talk to his boss.
The next morning, Dave and I decided the Toyota’s scrapes and dents were too prominent to leave as is, so he called our insurance man to report the latest accident. Our agent is my son, Jade Graham. He and his brother have this insurance agency in Lebanon, Tennessee, named Graham Insurance.
That afternoon, acting on Jade’s instructions, Dave took the van to Service King, one of the “concierge vendors” for MetLife, to get an estimate. They scheduled our repairs to begin on December 23, just one week later. Insurance would pay for a rental car–a little rental car.
Rabbit came by in the evening to report on his talk with his superior. The end result: Dave agreed to pay a little over $9200 and informed Rabbit that was still way too much.
I shopped for flooring. The Lowe’s installation scheduler called me two days later to ask if they could begin on January 8. “Why, of course,” I said. “I’ll be here celebrating Elvis’ birthday.”
The girl on the other end of the phone was too young to know that or to care much about it. All she said was, “My grandma loves Elvis.”
I said, “Huh.”
Before I-Day (Installation Day), we had some other celebratory events to attend to. The first event was our family Christmas event December 21 at John and Vicky’s house (Jameson and Carly, too). We voted not to exchange gifts this year, in favor of some event to attend. John and Vicky offered to host a party and assembled an entertainment committee. Vicky planned a cross between Festivus and a Christmas Vacation and everyone was to attend in costume. If I couldn’t think of anything else, Dave and I could wear our Lone Ranger and Tonto outfits that we made for a New Year’s Eve party about ten years ago. Dave’s outfit was constructed from a heathered brown Hanes sweatshirt and pants. He was Tonto. There was really nothing funny about me in a cowboy suit and hat with a gun on my hip, but I have to admit that Dave rocked that feather attached to the shiny black mullet on elastic around his head.
Before I could utter the first Hi-ho, Silver, John and Jameson came down with the flu, closely followed by Vicky and Carly. The Graham-Revell-Blair Christmas party was off. We’d just have to figure out another time–or skip it.
We’d also planned a caravan to Jellystone Park’s Dancing Lights and Christmas Wonderland at dusk. Darrin and Dana, Jade and Anjie, and Dave and I decided not to waste that opportunity, so we all arranged to meet for late lunch/early dinner in Mt. Juliet and then drive over to see the lights. Jade, Anjie, and Jaxton were already at the table when the four of us arrived. I took a corner seat next to Jaxton, and across the table from Anjie.
“What’s that you’re drinking, Anjie?” I asked.
“It’s for my heartburn. I’m having bad heartburn,” she said.
My lips were pursed for “You’re not pregnant, are you?” but, fortunately, I slammed my tongue against the roof of my mouth, uttered a quick “I’m sorry,” and ordered a Diet Coke.
Congratulations flew across, and up and down, the table. Anjie received a big promotion the week before; this was the first chance any of us had to congratulate her in person.
When everyone had begun to eat, Jade asked Jaxton if he wanted to show off his shirt. He stood in his high chair. The green and red print showed, “I’ve got a Christmas surprise!” Then Anjie turned him around (which he did not want to do) and the back of his shirt read “I’m going to be a big brother!” He told us that Mommy had a “sitt-ter” in her belly; Anjie introduced us to Savannah Grace Graham.
We hurried to text all the sickees.