Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead!

You just can't imagine how thoroughly tired I was of looking at this thing here. And working around it. And bailing it out when it stank. Posted by Picasa

For ten years, I've been the reluctant owner of a hot tub.

The right hot tub would have made me a happy owner.

Not this one.

Its most recent foibles went like this:

Here comes Hurricane Wilma. Hot tub shoots up in the air, spins around, lands upside down, flips back up, spins around again, and lands right side up. It left a trail of greasy hot tub innards spewed all over the yard.

Now, the good news went like this:

We were without running water for about three days. Normally, stocking up on non-potable water is one prep I don't forget. This time, I did. The only time yet that the water went off.

But when that hot tub landed right side up? It got enough hurricane rain to provide us with water for a different pot. The commode.


With its last dying breaths, the cursed thing kept us flushing till the water supply worked again.

Fast forward...FEMA, insurance adjuster, safety issue things paid for with proceeds, not enough to get the tub to the street...mortgagee holds next check, claiming federal gov't (HUD) regulations declare that *moratorium* means *delinquency* so they want to parse my spending decisions...more discussions with said companies...

And here it is, next hurricane season, and we're finally ready to go.

Friday is bulk day.

Ah yes. The day so many of us joyously run to our swales to dump vast loads of big icky stuff we don't want, awaiting the monthly return of The Claw. Which Claw chomps on said piles and spits them out into big trucks, and off to Mt. Trashmore they go, never to disturb our serenity again.

Enter Danny.

Danny lived across the street from us when we bought this house. At the time he was 8 years old and came up to my nose.

He was a wonderful neighbor. He's quite smart, and at the age of 8, knew everyone and everything that mattered here. I said before, and still do, that he has the makings of a great politician.

He helped me out in our yard quite a bit back then, too - the place was a jungle, a real mess.

One thing we did together was to stump 25 aralia trees. The very last stump was totally pesky, with 18 million roots all tangled up in a sprinkler system, in a foot-wide space between a concrete path and a chain-link fence.

We hacked and dug and pushed and pulled and cut more roots and dug some more. Finally - I use my legs a lot for stuff like this, better muscles - finally I lay on my back, bent my legs, knees apart, put my feet on that stump and pushed and pushed and pushed. I could feel it moving. I poured sweat. I could feel my face getting red.

Danny said, --You look like a lady having a baby.

Which was stunningly accurate.

I lost it. I'm literally rotflol, giggling and spitting root sawdust and losing my foot-grip on said stump, wondering how much Discovery Channel this 8 year old kid's been watching, and generally giving in to so much upheaval that I gave that effing stump one final puuuuusssshhhhhh and CRACK! out it comes, up from the dirt.

Still choking with laughter. I said, --IT'S OUT! THE BABY'S BORN! and damned if that thing didn't have all these roots sticking out looking like penises. So I said, --LOOK! IT'S A BOY!

That was the most fun I ever had stumping a tree in my entire life.

By the time Danny was 13, he looked about 18. 5' 10" or so, hulking and strong. My nephew met him. After that, he'd ask about Danny from time to time like this: --Hey. How's the big giant kid?

Danny was a gifted big rig driver by the time he was maybe 15. Not that we would have ever dreamed of allowing such an uninsurable driver to drive one of our trucks, of course. Not even to park it down the lot. No.

And he learned side-by-side working with Walter, sometimes on long multi-state delivery runs, how to deliver fine furniture. He ran into most of the odd situations that happen - from getting your truck almost stuck under a low-clearance bridge in New York, to weird or nasty customers, to delivering armoires up narrow turning staircases with only two people and a piece of furniture that outweighs them, DOT inspectors, oh you name it. He learned about moving big stuff using brainpower instead of brute force. And boy, was he good. Even tempered, good with customers, just plain pleasant to work with, on top of everything else.

After Wilma blew the trees down on the house, it was Danny & co. who got them off the roof and let us use the front door safely again. This may not sound like much, but folks, it was a lot of work, days and days with multiple people. He and Walter hoisted our 25' queen palm back up so we wouldn't have to kill her. Danny spent days of his time helping everyone who needed gas for their generators, ice, food, whatever. He never wanted to get paid for these things, see, it was just fun to him. But work is work and ought to be paid for, so we worked all that out.

And now, he's newly graduated from high school - was a star football player, got recruited for high school no less. In a couple weeks he starts training as a firefighter, to work his way up to paramedic and such as he goes to college too.

So. That hot tub has had Danny's name on it for a long time. I didn't want him taking it to the street for bulk day until I knew we could pay him for it and for the hurricane work. It's a good 400-500 pounds, and has the awful bulky character of a mattress when you want to move it. It can be moved or it can be balanced - it just won't do both at once, see? So you really need people who are strong and smart and experienced to handle a beast like that. Especially through the narrow spaces and turns and such it had to go through.

By my estimate, I wanted 4 guys on that thing. I used to tell Danny, --When the time comes, bring the football team.

I got a call from Walter today saying Danny may come by. Just as our call was ending I said, --Gotta go, someone's at the front door.


Boy oh boy!

But mixed up with my glee I was a little...hesitant. Only one other guy was with him.

Now, the other guy wasn't quite as tall as Danny, who's around 6'2" or so now. But he had that same look about him. Ya know. Like a refrigerator.

So Danny said, well, we'll see. And back to the hot tub we went.

They dumped out a little rainwater. They went over the merits of dollies, hand trucks, slides. Since Danny knows this stuff I left it up to him.

He decided to use a moving blanket to pull it, setting the hot tub on its side, pulling on the blanket while balancing the tub upright. They maneuvered it around on the back patio, getting the feel of it. Slid it across and past the back of the house.

By then I finally had the camera out. These guys were going so fast I missed my first shots. Okay. Sometimes I get them blurry, but how often do I gripe about being too slow to catch the action?

When they came up the west side of the house, moving toward the street, they decided they didn't need the blanket any more. They just dragged it along on its side, pushme pullyou.

I was trying to stay out of the way and not distract them. At one point, though, he must have heard me gasp at a quick recovery he made as it tipped. He said quietly, with a little grin, --I'm a little stronger now.

Holy smokes, yes. All that time I knew him as he worked with us, he was still a growing kid. I'd forgotten.

And soon they were at the carport. Right where - *gasp!* - Danny's muscle car is parked!

And he didn't have his keys to move it out of the way!

Now I'm absolutely not a car fan, but this is a special car. If that hot tub hurt that car I would blow it up with dynamite. I know it's his car and his decision, but ooohhhhh!!! the suspense was awful!

But they made it just fine.

Over the brick driveway and out to the street.

And this whole thing took maybe 20 minutes.

I was floored.

And happy? Oh, you have no idea.

What a shot in the arm, and what a day I needed it.

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