Why You Should Always Bring Two Trucks to a Demolition

“I’m going to get rid of that hot tub,” I said to no one in particular about 500 times in the last two years.

Okay, that’s not true. I’ve said it to everyone who has ever walked past the antiquated, broken down, monstrous piece of rotomolded plastic that surely had people wondering if I was going to invite them to a bubbling bacterium filled night from the 70s.

Nope. Not gonna happen.

Never happened ever.

I hate hot tubs. Hate them.

They make my skin crawl both figuratively and literally. I am just not a jacuzzi natured nut. I’m not much of a pool person either. More of a “if you’re hot, go stand under the garden hose” kind of a girl. I don’t even own a bathtub, so why was there a giant tank of promised tranquil times in my front yard taking up valuable real estate where other valuable, contributing items like tomato plants, a patch of grass, or a host of plastic pink flamingo might live?

I’ll tell you why. Because no one wants to haul that junk away.

So, I looked at doing it myself. But there’s the tiny component that includes “disassembling” involved. My thought was this is doable, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life thus far, it’s that the solution to any problem is viable even if you only have access to three things:

  1. Duct tape
  2. WD40
  3. YouTube

It was a great idea for about 30 seconds. At the 31st second mark of the first video I watched on how easy it is to dismantle your old hot tub I’d changed my mind. Easy is not a word I would pick. I would instead pick words like onerous, laborious, and ignorantly ambitious.

They required power tools with gas tanks, multiple blades, and signed waivers in order to purchase. As I was far more fond of my fingers than farcical waterfowl, I picked up the phone and furthered my search for anyone willing to haul this sucker away.

After countless calls to every variety of company with the name “junk” in it, I finally settled on one who’s name I can’t recall but could aptly be named “Umm … Sure, if I Can Shove it in My Truck.” It wasn’t necessarily their enthusiasm that won me over, rather that basement price of stating they could do the work for 60% less than everyone else.

I am a penny-pinching son of a gun, and the thought of holding onto a few more pennies made me suddenly envision buying my new flock of plastic feathered friends at someplace fancy like the Garden Decor´ section at Walmart, rather than straight off the clearance shelves at the Dollar General. 

But then Willie and the gang showed up with a pickup truck that would definitely always be chosen last when team captains were divvying up the choices for all the pickup truck games. Tiny red flag.

Willie put his son to work—Willie Jr—and then left to answer the phone. I heard the sound of angry steel come to life, ripping through fabric and plastic and wood and thought that could have been me. And then a minute later I heard the sound of Willie Jr cry out and thought that would have been me.

“Snake!” I heard lil Willie cry.

I came out onto the porch and looked at Willie Jr. pointing out to Willie Senior the head of a black snake who was obviously just as surprised as the two of them and shared the same expression.

“Don’t kill him. That’s Hortense. He’s just a garden snake,” I said.

“Hortense? Is he a biter?” Willie Jr. asked.

“Only if you’re a rat,” I answered.

“Well, you have the face of a rat, Willie, so I’d watch out if I were you,” his sister said.

The sound of Willie Jr’s angry steel sprang to life again in answer.

That could have been me, I thought.

I brought out a pitchfork and handed it to Junior. “You ever had spaghetti? You just need to twirl that feller up onto here and then walk Hortense out to the woods where he can be safe.”

Junior was not thrilled. But he did it. And then the angry steel returned with a chorus that began to sound like it was running out of steam.

From the porch where I sat studying a library book, I heard snippets of phrases like Did you bring the extra battery? And Well, we’re gonna have to plug her in. Also, What do you mean it’s not working? Did you hit water? And finally some sort of thunk. Like a head falling to the table.

Junior and I finally found another suitable and working outlet for the angry blade brigade and the work resumed. Until …

“Snake!”

I came out onto the deck again. “That’s Hildegard. She’s probably wondering where Hortense is.”

And she’s probably wondering what the hell is happening to her house, I thought looking around with despair. Plastic, insulation, fiberglass, foam, and wood were scattered everywhere. Good lord, it looked like my attic went on a binge and vomited onto the lawn.

“How’s it goin?” I asked, noting it had been over three hours of work thus far. Three hours for five people against one hot tub. The YouTube video has one guy, one crowbar, and fifteen minutes, seven of them spent explaining to the camera what he was doing.

“Nearly done,” I heard Willie Senior offer up. Behind him, Junior was wrestling with Hildegard who was determined to stay in her home come hell or high water … or high-powered chain saws. Maybe she had babies to protect.

Poor Junior. That could have been me.

An hour later, as the sun was setting, I brought out a tray of glasses and a bottle of bourbon. “Good work, lads and lasses,” I said, seeing nothing but a concrete slab where the hot tub used to be.

“The truck is full up. Can’t fit anymore into it,” Willie Senior said, pointing toward it.

I saw half the hot tub, or what used to be the hot tub, shoved into the back and spilling out the sides. The other half was in several large piles on the lawn and driveway.

“We’ll come back for the rest tomorrow,” he said.

“And the check for payment of services?” I asked, suddenly realizing that question now took the place of whatever last sentence was in first place for Stupidest thing I’ve ever asked. My sluggish brain now foresaw being stuck with a driveway full of junk while I chased down a handyman who’d never return my calls.

Willie Sr. smiled and winked. “We’ll come back for it tomorrow.” He hitched a thumb again toward his truck. “Can’t fit anymore into it.”

Well, there you have it, I thought to myself, a man who owns a garbage company is a valuable treasure of honesty himself.

Maybe instead of the flock of flamingos, I’ll erect a statue of Willie.

~Shelley

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Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up.

Snake Slayer or Civil Serpent?

I like to think of myself as a fairly capable woman.

Okay, that’s a lie. I’d give my left lung to have other people think of me as a fairly capable woman.

Uh … okay that needs even further correcting. I’d give my left lung to have other people think of me as a kickass master virtuoso in most all areas, wielding life skills that leave my friends and family open mouthed with astonishment. I’d like people to look at me and say, now if Thomas Jefferson and Hildegard von Bingon had a child,

and that child was tutored by Joan of Arc,

and sung to sleep by her fiercely feminist nanny Beyoncé,

that would be Shelley.

All right, I may have gone beyond the beyond with that one.

Because the reality is far from that equation. No offense to the parental units as they worked their backsides off trying to encourage the mass of reluctant neurological connections I housed within my skull.

They did their best. Working with what they had to make a human being as independently capable as they could before they sawed at the fraying tether between us and cast me off to manage my own life raft.

But they still worry.

And I do not make it easy on them.

Sometimes purposefully, because that, in and of itself, can be fun. I like to push the boundaries a teensy bit to show them just how much their overall disappointment with me should lessen each day. Oftentimes this backfires.

Like when I announce to my dad that I’ve successfully replaced the flapper in a toilet.

He’s thrilled. Then I announce that in doing so I accidentally broke the overflow tube and the fill valve. He’s less thrilled.

Next time I’m editing that last bit out.

Or when I told my mother about how I just spent the last thirty minutes fertilizing all of the gorgeous spring bulbs she spent an entire day planting last fall. She was elated. I did not tell her that there was a 50/50 chance that I “fertilized” all the bulbs with weed killer because I’d recently transferred both liquids into unmarked spray canisters and neglected to label them before putting them away.

I’m learning.

Usually, most of their wide-eyed panic comes from my retellings of the Wild Kingdom episodes that regularly occur where I live: all alone, in the woods, up on a mountain, with not a stitch of people to borrow a cup of sugar from anywhere close.

I love it this way.

They are not nearly as delighted.

My latest run in with one of nature’s more hellish horrors (my mother’s words not mine) actually occurred on their property and not mine. So they were both there to witness the depth and breadth of my bravery and level of skill.

They live in a house that occasionally has indoor plumbing. But when functioning, those pipes can be fractious. They require me to regularly crawl under the house in order to beg and cajole (read: bang) those pipes into cooperation (read: submission).

Under a house is not a place most folks like to spend their free time. Sure, it’s got a variety of puzzles that will either entertain or flummox your synaptic connections for a spell. Like miles of wiring, or ducting, or hosing. And myriad dead things that cursed their curiosity that led them to a glue board. But maybe it’s the poor lighting. I never feel the urge to hang out longer than I have to.

Shortly after I announced to my parents my intention to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with the water filter in the crawl space, I decided to rethink my handyman chore list and shouted up into the house, “Hey, Dad? Can you give me a quick list of bullet points on venomous snakes?”

I heard my mother shriek above me.

“How big is it?” he responded.

“Them,” I corrected.

Kill them! (I think we all know who shouted this.)

How big are they?”

“Huge.”

“How big is huge?”

“At least 18 inches give or take a foot. Maybe take.”

“So not so huge then?”

“Well, not so huge but in a really big way … And they have a lot of teeth.”

“What type of teeth?”

“The kind orthodontists would marvel at.”

“Did you actually see teeth?”

“No,” I shouted, “But they conveyed teeth.”

“They conveyed teeth? In what way?”

“In the way women do when they are elbow to elbow in a shoe sale.”

Kill them! (Again, not me or my dad.)

I looked around for something to use as weapon. Not because I really wanted to end the life of some sad beasts that happened to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, but because I recognized the same look in these snakes’ eyes as the big black bear I’d recently encountered at home that conveyed the identical message of One of us is going to wish we could back up and start this day all over again with a whole nother path.

I found a shovel. I quickly realized two things. One—shovels are not the most ideal deterrent to use against a pile of snakes. Two—snakes are springy.

Yeah, that whole coiling thing is not just to keep warm like dogs and cats practice. That’s a preparatory pose.

Duly noted.

I found an ax.

Now we’re talking. An ax is an immediate confidence boost. An ax shouts, “You have no idea what century I come from and the talents I possess. But go ahead and roll the dice, buddy.”

I’m going to assume we can all deduce the outcome. After all, I’m still here and spinning this yarn.

I am also a newly minted superhero in at least one person’s eyes.

I may not be a proficient plumber, nor a great gardener, or even capable of bullying back a black bear, but as of today I stand proudly before you as … slayer of serpents.

Who no longer require diligent dental detail.

~Shelley

For the time being, our blog is closed to comments, but if you enjoyed it, maybe pass it on to someone else. Email it, Facebook it, or print it out and make new wallpaper for the bathroom. If it moves you, show it some love and share. Cheers!

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor (NOW FOR HIRE- so do go check out his gallery!)–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.