Diary of a mad homeowner

The trials and tribulations of fixing up a house filled with character but not much else


Show, don’t tell

People who come by and drop their opinion off like a kid at daycare crack me up.

When I was a meter reader working for Public Service Co., we used to have what’s called MUD days, or make-up days. The meter-reading cycle came to a stop for the day and we were given a stack of inside gas meters that needed verified. It was PSCO’s way of keeping 125 gregarious meter readers occupied. Without meters to read, we would all sit at Berry’s or some other coffee shop, eating and passing on meter reader lore. Make-up days would see us driving to about 70 addresses, instead of walking to the 200 to 2,000 meters we would usually read each day.

Upon arriving at a MUD house, you’d take one look and decide you weren’t going in there for love or money. Some houses were notorious, like the house on Short Place near Federal that had dead animals on the coffee table and laundry that cascaded down the steps. Trash was piled as high as you stood and the stench was palpable. It wrought a great debate among readers; hold your breath as you go in or breathe through your teeth.

We looked down on those homes, and didn’t go in them so we wouldn’t backpack roaches to our own homes. Instead of going in, we’d do what’s called a “DB” or drive-by on that address. N/A was what we wrote on the slip, shuffling the gas meter deck for someone else on another day. We really didn’t care if those meters got read or not.

I know a lot of people who do a “drive-by” on people’s lives.

Sometimes, they end up at my door, either brought by friends or as a craftsman who may, or most likely not get my business. They’ll do a drive-by on advice, shot quickly and with less accuracy than level 2 on a game of Angry Birds. Do this, don’t do that, but they’re either showing off or think I’m too dumb to know that $1,000 to frame a 12-foot wall is too expensive.

A flood of ideas pours from them. With a tone that’s incredulous but cloaked, they wonder why I haven’t fixed all the problems. Usually clad in dressed-for-a-day-at-the-mall rather than Saturday-work-clothes, their effectiveness ranks somewhere between typing on a keyboard with no letters and numbers to having sex while wearing pantyhose.

I’m grateful for my friends and family who have great ideas and grease their ideas with sweat. Their friendship makes it easier to get stuff done, adding laughs instead of doubts. They don’t do drive-by’s on my life and I’m grateful for that, but I can’t expect them to do all the work.

What I need is a handy-man-type-person who can handle the relatively small, but important tasks that need to be done around here. Just not at $25 an hour like the person who quoted me $1,000 for a 12-foot-wall and won’t be back anytime soon.

Another person who won’t be invited back to do a drive-by on my house is the chimney guy, now cut loose. I’ve gone to someone who has a better reputation for fair and honest work; it doesn’t cost $500 to install a new double-walled-pipe for the woodstove. Oh, I’ll be OK without the woodstove for a bit, after all, my IREA bill for one month was only $70. Nova Road would have cost me $200 by now. It would have really pissed me off to pay that much for heat, especially if I had to endure the sex-marathon that was going on upstairs. Don’t get me started on that topic.

Please don’t think I don’t want people to come to my house; I am interested in people’s ideas. Just don’t come with the attitude that I need you to tell me what to do, like I haven’t thought about it already. Believe me, as I stare up at the hole in the ceiling of my bedroom, I’ve thought about it all. Including what form of Martha-Stewart-insanity overtook me when I bought this house.

I do love ideas on color, cabinet hardware, where the washer/dryer should be, what doors I should use for the future closets, which tree to drop and what size data boxes could go in the floor. I’m happy and grateful to hear all suggestions.

So come by for a visit and bring your ideas and suggestions, we can hammer or paint and I’ll listen while we work.

One thought on “Show, don’t tell

  • Love this diary of home improvement Bahb. I look forward to every entry you summon. Keep it up!


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