Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Flies of October

What motivates flies? I don’t know. Probably the same thing that motivates us. You put one wing in front of the other and go about your day. We (flies and us) are not doing impossible things, just the things that come naturally, or through nurture, in our case.

I've had a terrible time with flies in October. Totally different than September. In September they were merely bad, but in October they became intolerable. At the time I was thinking, “WTF’s going on?” Then it dawned on me, it's because winter's coming. The flies were frantic, in a frenzy, making it a zoo here in The Big City, my temporary quarters till they get Grandma’s house refurbished, fixed, and satisfactorily fumigated, if possible.

I should mention I’m a small town boy, only used to small town flies. So my problem in October could've been these being Big City flies. With a rougher background, hence they really know how to carry on. Suffice to say, it's been rough to just keep the flies at normal hazard levels without driving me completely out of my mind. I finally settled on a two-pronged approach to killing them, the fly swatter, mostly, with a minor assist from flypaper strips.

I remember the very worst day. I literally killed 75 flies that day, or more. I even quit picking them up after a while, they were so thick. Proper burials were out. I could do no more than warehouse them, you know, with a resolution to bury them properly in the spring, if I remember to do so. I was complaining to the neighbor guy, “The flies in The Big City are nothing like back home!” Then I started telling him about fumigating my grandparents’ old house. And it looked like I nauseated him when I said I still had the bed my mother was conceived on.

The neighbor now gone, I was back to killing flies. I’ll never forget that day! My arm was sore from all the swatting. They were dropping like ... themselves. Then in the evening I made a special trip to buy fly paper strips. I was very desperate; this was a level of desperation I hadn’t experienced since the time I peed my pants in fourth grade and had to go home and face my dad, also pissed off.

But wouldn’t you know, the frenzy turned out to be because it was the last day for flies! I had no idea. The next day came and there were barely any flies left. But now I had the flypaper strips up, and they’re still up. But one managed only to attract 10 or 12 flies. And the other strip attracted zero! None. This is a fact. At first I was blaming the brand of flypaper, then I realized the flies, with the colder temperatures, had either died or gone into dormancy, just like that. Nature’s pattern: Frenzy precedes dormancy. Like your sex drive when you turn 65. Of which, the less said the better.

OK, I’ve flashed back to these memories of flies because today, suddenly, I saw my first fly in a week. And wondered, “What the hell, I thought you guys were dead or dormant...” So I had to find the fly swatter all over again and get him. It pays to stay dormant, little buddy. Lesson for flies: Hibernate or die!

Monday, October 22, 2018

I Could've Been a Job Foreman

You gotta love the perspective of an old man, able to see things so clearly what you shoulda coulda woulda done if you could do it again. Because if you choose wrong, you're sunk, all is lost.

I’ve definitely seen the career opportunities I've missed! With every passing day that drags by on getting Grandma's house fixed, I now see the golden opportunities of being a job foreman. What’s he do everyday but look for more complications, more things wrong, more ways to drag his feet? I could've done that.

It’d be easy to be a job foreman. Always get up on the wrong side. Nurture your mean streak. Limp from one task to another. Take the insurmountable as your default view.

Of course I'm seeing the renovation work on the house as hopeless. Plus, I'm in "The Big City," barely able to communicate with the job foreman in a useful way. Which means I'm screwed as they attempt to begin, then someday possibly finish their hopeless mission. They're like old war heroes, "Boys, I’m going in and I may not be back. I’ll be hip deep in big muddy and pressing on." So before you choose any job, pick your retirement plan; it could be a long hard slog.

The house is a mess. I'm hearing about mold, fungi, a thick cadre of pests and pestilence, all of it thick and messy from the roof beams to the foundation. Making me wonder, How can so many things go wrong? What'd I miss? I get good counsel from my pastor occasionally; they had a charity fund drive for me. I really appreciate his comfort and counsel, saying, "The morning's always darker just before dawn, or just after the job foreman shows up."

It's the job foreman, really, that inspired me to vacate the premises, the town, and even the state, to go to the Big City while they work ... Anything to be away from his bad attitude. His original sin — or virtue, if you look at it from the point of view of every task being a cash cow — is believing "It can’t be done." Whatever the problem, it's a lost cause, it's hopeless, no one can do it, and I may as well be the one to break it to you.. No doubt he secretly revels in it behind my back.

From their point of view, these are all billable hours, you get a job like this, you look ahead to the payout. Knowing there’s nothing I can do. You try to report someone to the authorities, it's a two pronged challenge. One, they're used to disgruntled homeowners and chalk it up to you being disgruntled. And two, they know contractors and job foreman have families and have to eat, so back off, this is the way they do it, by screwing you high and low.

The simple truth of the matter is, No home renovation is hopeless, really, they just make it feel that way. I don't care how big the fungus is, it’s not too big for the mind of man to surmount. If he wants to. But basically it's obscured because we are naturally scared away by fungus, spiders, microscopic hungry house rot. It looks hopeless to the layman, so we put our hand in the hand of the man who promises us hope. "I can do it!" The job foreman beams when he first arrives. It's downhill from there.

I might organize a support group for guys like me, caught in the home renovation trap. The place is too far gone to fix, but I'm too poor to afford something better. Or too stupid to see the possibilities. I don’t like debt. But when you’re an old man without kids, debt should be your friend. You go whole hog, you die, what are they going to do? You have a great house, you die.

I was never devious enough, rotten enough, or talented enough to have been a job foreman. At least with the knowledge I had then. That's the other thing about old age. You can easily see, Most of the helpers you get as you go through life have a million devious schemes up their sleeves. With the first thing being the paperwork. Make the paperwork complicated-looking, thick as your arms, get you to sign your life away. Surely there’s more codicils in the paperwork negating your rights than granting them. You're the little guy, you're screwed from the get go.

But I could've learned that. Imagine how empowering that'd be. I should’ve done it. Set my sights to be a job foreman, with all the personal confidence that comes from screwing the poor homeowner. You've broken him already. What more can he do but shut up and get the hell out of your way, while you and your team move in for the endless road ahead. I wouldn’t doubt if they were making things worse. Vials of poison, test tubes of virulent pests that they've imported from the jungles of Peru.

This is how the plague in the Middle Ages started. A kid wanted to be a job foreman on a castle and set about it. He worked the rest of his life, the apparent work on the castle limping hopelessly along, while the lord who used to live there was in the The Big City, unaware what shenanigans were going on at the manor.

I'm too old for this information to do me much good. I've got arthritis, it hurts merely to lie in bed. The death angel has me on the list. But you're young, your whole life’s ahead of you! Don't be a doctor, a lawyer, any pissant job like that. Be a job foreman! And be set for life, tormenting, terrorizing the populace, but making enough money, what’ll you care?!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mute Invisible Guard Dogs

I’ve been living in “The Big City” while they work on Grandma’s house — fumigation is the least of its problems — so I’ve been out cattin' around everyday. Checking out things. Plus, I’m actually a minor player in the recycling industry, in that I pick up and cash in aluminum cans. I’ll make a post about it some time.

I see myself also as patrolling the ‘hood. But most of the vandalism I see appears to have happened years ago. With the bad guys long gone. Windows are out, broken glass is everywhere, and some of the buildings are on their last legs. Makes me rethink Grandma’s house; it's not too far gone.

In all this patrolling and can rummaging, I’ve been interested in the obligatory signs warning thieves, burglars, vandals, and squatters. There’s a small tree-covered area nearby, and I discerned right away some homeless folks were living there. Which was cool with me, so I didn’t do anything to disturb them, just kept my distance. After a while, though — and obviously it would’ve been better if they’d stayed there only briefly — their presence was discovered by the authorities or owners. Who went in, piled up all their stuff on the curb, then hauled most of it away. Now there's blinking light posts at the various entrances to the wooded area.

The other thing they have, to keep folks out, are warning signs. Yes, yes, in “The Big City” warning signs are very common. At the wooded area, the warning signs tell of “Video Surveillance,” which would seem to be false; wouldn’t you see an occasional camera somewhere? Or are they spending big bucks on a satellite system, a joint effort with NASA? Still, I don’t go in there, mostly because I already have a place to flop, and also I’m careful about crossing boundaries. There used to be an old guy in my neighborhood rumored to shoot kids with rock salt.

OK, the signs. That’s what I’m on about today. While searching for beer cans (and other aluminum goodies), I’m always seeing warning signs. A bunch of them are posted on buildings that have been ransacked so many times, it’s obvious no one takes them seriously. Actually, my biggest fear would be to have other ransackers there when I went in, then they’d ransack me... Anyway, the chances of these old buildings having anything of huge value in them now are pretty low.

Thinking it over, though, I had a great idea, which would be to make signs saying, “THIS BUILDING IS PROTECTED BY MUTE INVISIBLE GUARD DOGS.” Is it true? I mean, really, someone could diligently search and find actual non-vocal dogs who’ve also had the added misfortune of being born invisible. When it rains, it pours, right? So there they are, a big bowl of food and water keeping body and soul together, the whole works. They're healthy, they usually get decent sleep ... until the big night comes.

Finally someone's stupid enough to enter. Some guys, looking for metal bathtub fixtures and wanting to strip the precious wiring out of the walls, show up one night. They’re drinking up a storm just before this, getting up their nerve. Because a sign about mute invisible guard dogs truly is intimidating. But they convince themselves, "This sign’s just like that one at the wooded area, a big fat fake!” Then they go in, and these dogs — vicious bastards when provoked — get hold of their legs; one nearly escapes but the dog takes a chunk out of his ass. Exciting stuff.

Pretty soon the dogs have the bastards cornered — who by now have dropped the bathtub pipes — and they make their final merciless lunge, right for the jugular! Blood’s spurting out everywhere, it’s a mess for the ages. Enough blood to make you sick. The perps go on to meet their reward in hell. The next day the dogs aren’t all that hungry. I come along on my bike, find the cans outside that the guys drank from (who were also litterbugs), catch a glimpse of the sign about the invisible dogs, shiver to myself in fear, grab the cans, and get the hell out of there.