The List

LET'S ADD SOME THINGS TO THE LIST. The list of things with warning labels

1) Pull-down attic stairs. 

I was hired to install an oversized set of pull-down stairs. The ones that fold-up and tuck neatly above the ceiling. The guy wanted me to cut a hole in his garage ceiling so he could put some of the growing mountain of crap he was collecting up there and still get his car into the garage. But the ceiling was extra-high, maybe eleven feet if I remember, so the stairs were special order and extra heavy. No problem. Just pay me extra.

The stairs came in, I showed up just as the guy left for his down-town job. I got busy, didn't have any serious problems with the work and was cleaned-up and looking for my money around two that afternoon. His wife didn't have the checkbook, I'd have to return for my dough. 

I came back later that day expecting a big smile, options for more work in his home and maybe, a tip....people still do that. Sometimes. 

Instead I found a man with a fixed scowl on his face and a large Band-Aid on his forehead. "Why didn't you tell me those stairs were going to be so heavy?"

He did pay in full, but no tip.

2) Sippy-drinks. 

I think they were called Capri Sun. This was back when the kids were little and the fridge was full of these things. Fruit-flavored foil pouches with a sharp-pointed yellow plastic straw glued to each one. I guess it was extra fun for the children to try and poke the straw through the little circle on the side of the thing. 'Wish they'd given a nickel for every time one of the kids ran up to us holding out the pouch after they'd mashed the point off the straw..."Mommy! I can't do this...."

The times were chancey and work was scarce. I'd just finished a large construction project and was out of work, trotting my resume around town to any construction outfit advertising for help. The day was getting long and I'd saved the most promising option for last: "Mr. Wyse will be back around two, he'll probably speak to you if you come by around then." 

I sat outside in my pick-up, brushed the dust off the last of my carefully printed resume's, fixed my necktie in the rearview mirror and tried to smooth the wrinkles out of my only clean button-down shirt.

I decided I needed to drink one of those sippy-pouches for the sugar jolt my brain might need for the interview. 

Somehow the one I'd brought from the fridge was the one with the straw's point mashed-off...I couldn't get it to go through the little hole.

Like any construction savvy guy I did what needed to be done. I pushed harder. 'Didn't realize I was squeezing the pouch a little too tightly with my other hand. I knew what flavor I'd picked right away when the bright red sugar water exploded onto my chin and chest and dripped down onto the resume sitting in my lap.

I found work with another company.

3) Recliners. 

This is a combo warning, like you see on a medicine label advising you not to drive heavy equipment after you take this. Or, don't smoke that cigar while pumping this particular brand of gasoline.

Do this, OK, but not while you do that too!

Grandma bought grandpa a big, new recliner. It's the Mercedes Benz of all recliners. Wraps you up in a warm and soft embrace when you sit in it. Grandpa loves it. Then the kids chipped-in and got him a gigantic flat-screen TV for his ninety-first birth day. Bad idea, bad combination.

While the TV slowly eats his brain with it's hundreds of channels of stupid, the chair is gradually sucking what's left of his strength and balance. 

I don't think it'll be the COPD or the heart thing that finally takes him away from here. I think it'll be the furniture.

Someday we'll push that chair and that TV out onto the lawn for the final big yard-sale. No warning labels.

Sell them along with the shovels he'll never touch again and the little pile of shoes he doesn't wear any more.


North Chesterfield, VA

I still do the construction work, but not for the tips....keeps me out of the recliner.

Jay CalhounComment