Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2000

Mary Ann Fitzmorris / L’Observateur / October 21, 2000

People always ask me how the house renovation is going, since we’re in our second year. I tell them it’s definitely progressing. We’ve moved from waiting around the house all day while these guys are working, to waiting around the house all day to see if they’ll show up.

Take last Saturday, for instance. We were expecting two separate crews to come. One has stood me up so many times it’s become a joke between us, but only one is laughing.

I have a beautiful new kitchen with no cabinet doors or drawers. When I call to get him to remedy this he says, “Gee, Miss Mary Ann, I appreciate your understanding. My life’s just been a wreck. When I get there, I’ll tell you all about it.”That’s what I’m afraid of. While he was working on the kitchen, I heard about his love life, and the ex-wife who moved their daughter to Alaska. I heard about his partner’s wonderful marriage and kids. And I heard about international partying, as reported by one of their other employees. From what I gathered, that one’s construction job kept him occupied between world travels.

This guy I watched extra closely, because my dog was really unnerved by him on sight. It was hard not to imagine what his off hours might be like.I never have to wonder what another one of my carpenters is doing when he’s not here. He visits doctors and has tests run. This one is sure he’s dying of something. I refuse to declare him terminal until the AMA recognizes laziness as a certifiable cause of death.

This man is so talented it makes me want to cry. He comes in to start a job and one of his tools breaks. He promises to return the next day, after mentioning that he’s a little short of cash. I oblige. That night he calls to tell me one of his doctors needs to see him, so he can’t make it to my house as scheduled.

Two weeks later he drops in to finish the job. The only notice I have of his impending arrival is the dog barking as his little truck rattles down the road.

Yesterday I didn’t even have that. As I drove to the highway I noticed him turn onto my road. We parked on the shoulder of the highway and had a conference about future projects. He is set to build a small office for my husband, but my spouse may be retired before it’s done.

The meeting wasn’t entirely a waste of time, though. I did learn a few new medical terms, and a fascinating bit of trivia: scars can grow! At least none of my fellas ever mentioned something like the story a friend has. Her husband had decided to put in his own pool, but he needed some help fine-digging the hole. He and the laborer he hired were deep in the hole, digging away, when they began to converse.

A few minutes into the exchange, the helper confides that he needs to check with his parole officer that afternoon. Curiosity got the best of the homeowner, and he asked what had happened. As both men continued to dig, this man explained that he hit a fellow digger in the head with a shovel because the other guy had become so irritating.

The homeowner resolved immediately to be on his best behavior as he carefully inched his way to the other side of the hole. It was a relief when the “assistant” left to check with his probation officer.

No wonder I run into someone I know every Saturday at the Home Depot. It’s just so much easier to do it yourself.

I’ve always wanted to live in a Craftsman house, but I didn’t expect my husband to be the craftsman. Fortunately, what he lacks in skill he makes up for in dependability; he’s already here.

The poor man would love to give up the job, though, since he finds it unnerving. One day he announced that you just haven’t lived until you’ve spent the entire day perched on the highest rung of a 24-foot extension ladder, leaning out and balancing a spinning router.

I think I’ll just have to take his word for it.

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