The Cost of Speeding, with a side of Self Responsibility. (Sun, 06 Apr 2014)
It seems every time you turn on the news there is some announcement of a new accident, or a new police program, or a new law that is somehow related to driving and talking or
texting. Distracting driving is all the rage these days.
Years ago, I met a lady who had just moved into my area. She had a brood of children from different fathers and a procession of
boyfriends. Stability wasn’t her middle name, but at the time we met I didn’t know that. I was just happy to meet a new face in the neighbourhood.
She told me a story about an unreasonable landlord who wouldn’t let her use her last month’s rent as her monthly rent, and how that had forced her to move to my neighbourhood.
It would never occur to me to ask my landlord to use my last month’s rent as my rent. This is a person who thinks differently than I do so that piqued my interest enough to stick around for the rest
of the story.
As it turns out the fee for retrieving her vehicle from impound and to pay the speed racing tickets was about $1,300 in total. But
she had good cause - she was driving home and talking to her boyfriend on her cell phone. The argument they got into was quite heated and she proceeded to speed at about 140 in a 90 zone right in
front of the police who did their civic duty. I never did find out if any of her kids were with her in the car.
Here’s where the conversation got awkward and I just held on until it was over. Her story
painted her as the hapless victim, blaming everyone for the situation she found herself in. The (now ex) boyfriend, the police, the tow truck guy, the landlord, and every government employee that she
called to get more assistance would have experienced the same 'poor me' story that I heard, followed by rage when it became apparent that they couldn’t or wouldn’t help her.
Eventually with a little introspection many people would have settled into feeling a little
shame and embarrassment for their actions. This lady was different - she was quite convinced that her initial behavior (speeding) should have been glossed over because she’s a single mom of many
children and their primary care giver. To this I say NO. Don’t ask others to compensate for your bad
behavior. Suck it up and make amends. If you want to know how responsible you are for your own life then google Larry Winget, he will set you straight.
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Icy fun on the Roof (Sat, 05 Apr 2014)
About 2 weeks ago just after one of our thaws, I had front row seats to a real life version of a 'Red Green' episode play out in my back yard. Imagine an old cottage with a
large crust of ice along its roof edges, building high above the shingles as it tends to do over a winter. The roof isn’t steep, but it’s not shallow either. And you can safely assume that the
insulation isn’t that great in the attic, hence the ice buildup. That's the house that backs onto ours.
So it was with great amusement that I watched an older fellow setting up a ladder in the snow and lean it against those shingles…I’ve never seen him before so he’s not one of
the tenants living there. Since this cottage has been for sale perhaps this new person showing up is actually the new owner, here to make a show of
setting something right…Which would be fitting, except for what he did next.
Up went the ladder, up went the gent, and with him a rather large wood axe. Now, some of you might be as alarmed as I was. What was a guy going to do but hurt himself by climbing a ladder in these
inclement conditions? And what on earth was he going to do with a wood axe? He wasn’t going to try chopping away the ice was he? Yes, that’s what he did…
While I was contemplating his doom with my phone dialed with 9-1 in my hand I watched as chunk after large chunk of ice fell off the roof and scattered in various directions, narrowly missing the
ladder. This man was taking full swings at his roof with abandon. He did this until all that icebuild up was gone. I thought he was done but then he climbed onto the roof with a snow shovel and
chopped at the rest of the dense snow cap. Several hours later I looked out to find him still on top of the roof, his pace slowed somewhat by the odd sitting spell. The last I saw of him he had
retrieved some road salt and was spreading that on the newly bare but still frozen shingles.
I hope his work solved whatever problem was going on inside the house..... But those shingles are not designed to withstand the kind of treatment they received. Frozen shingles crack and split when
hit with blunt force, salt with artificially age them. I really hope that roof is getting reshingled this summer.
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Not your average Tom Sawyer (Mon, 12 Mar 2012)
Now, I’m no professional lender, loan shark, or gambling addict but I do know that if you owe someone money,
and you don’t pay them they are likely to be pissed. Moreover, if you try to duck them they will come looking for you. So, when one of my jobs fell through and I wouldn’t be paid in time for the end of the month I knew that I had a
problem. And if I hid from McLandlord, I’d have two problems. It’s bad enough not being able to pay rent but to have a pissed off Irishman looking for
you is bad news on any day that isn’t St Patty’s.
I found my balls and called to give the head’s up about my situation and hoped that he was feeling charitable
enough to wait until I got more work in a few weeks.
“Nie a problem” he says “I needa fence ovar at me old hoose, if you build er fer me. I ken forgive tha rent
this month an yew can git back on yer feet fer nex month.”
I made arrangements to go to McLandlord’s house the following week. When I got there I found a small pile of
lumber and a large pile of McLandlord’s nephew. We’ll have to change the name of this guy for this story but we will not be calling him McNephew, he will
be called McUseless.
McLandlord came out of the house when he saw I was there and introduced me to his nephew.
“This ‘ere is McUseless; he’s my sisters lad an e’ll be helping yew today”
After going over the lot lines, McLandlord excused himself and drove off about his business. I started laying out the postholes and instructed McUseless to follow behind me and start the digging. Needless to say
they don’t call him McUseless because of his ever increasing competency. I had to show him how to start the auger, how to use the throttle, how to drill straight down. After 45 minutes he was done exactly one and a half holes.
I took over the auger job and asked him to unbundle the lumber and put one post at each hole so that we could
get started. To my surprise, by the time I had finished the other 23 holes (one hour later), he had managed to put 1 fence board at each
hole. After getting the posts myself, I decided to alleviate him of any important jobs; it was time for him to mix concrete. In a wheelbarrow, I showed him how to put in one pail of water and two bags of cement and mix it up. I took the mixed
concrete in two buckets and started to level the first post. After getting it set and levelled, I went to refill my concrete to find that none had been
mixed up. It turns out that as I was toiling, the clock struck 10 ‘clock and McUseless left for his coffee break.
I was able to mix three more batches and level as many posts by the time he got back and the jerk didn’t even
bring me a coffee. He figured if I wanted one I should have asked.
The rest of the day went on in this fashion. Build some fence,
baby-sit. Build some fence, baby-sit. I had a great idea at about 3pm when McUseless still couldn’t figure
out which ticky on the tape measure to use and I sent him for coffee. He came back with a coffee, drank it, and told me he was going to school to be an
engineer. I asked “like at the front of a train?”
“No, the kind that tells peoples how to build stuff. I want to
be a structural engineer.”
Holy crap! If this guy graduates I’d quit and find a job as a
shit-shoveler. If the people who built some of our most famous structures — the empire state building, the CN tower, the Brooklyn
bridge — had the same work ethic as him they’d
still be unfinished and the breaking ground would fit in Tim Horton’s cups.
“It’s almost 4 pm,” McUseless declared without glancing at his
watch, “may as well call it quits for the day,” With that he got in his Pontiac Sunfire and drove off. I looked at the two sections of fence we had
built. I looked at all my tools scattered about the lawn. I looked at my own watch that said
I was a long slog but I got that fence finished at about 8 that night. As I was fastening the last few boards, McLandlord appeared.
“I ‘ve been home since lunch and me an the missus ‘ave never laughed so ard watchen you put up with me
nephew. Sorry fer putting you through that crap but I wasn’t about to ave him follow me round all day. Go home and consider yer rent settled”
So I really just was the baby sitter. I wonder if McLandlord
even wanted a fence. Oh well, I got the rest of the week off, rent was paid up, and when McUseless asked for my phone number (to hang out with him sometime) I gave him my ex girlfriend’s
number. That should even a few scores.
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