Monday, August 13, 2012

Fat and Happy

Excellent Brisket Taco at Taqueria Almeida #1
Brisket Tacos come with pickles and onion. I liked it!

It's been busy because I'm "working". The job is a slum lord maintenance man at a trailer park full of rental trailers in a beach island community. For instance, my first job today was fixing a toilet that was wobbling. A 450 lb man uses it to relieve his clogged bowels. I examined the closet bolts and found that one was just stuck in the wax doing nothing and I pulled it out with my fingers. The other was loose. That started a hunt for new closet bolts. But the key/lock to the unit was flawed so it only opened after ten minutes of fumbling. You get good at fixing things in a trailer park because in order to fix anything you have to fix else something first. Eventually you will get to the actual work order. At least technically. So I take the toilet out and install the new closet bolts and washers. But the water inlet hose has no handle and is rusted so that also has to be fixed...There's a bedroom door that has a handle that sticks so you can't turn it. I take it apart, clean it. It sort of works better. Then back to the lock that is messed up. I determine that it's the key and not the lock and someone needs to find the original key and have a copy made or take the lock to a locksmith to rearrange the tumblers. Nothing will be done without a work order

Laundry Day. Oggy Water Conservation Measure #5: Use 3/4 gallon to wash sheets
Next: Someone has lost the handle to their well water faucet. I arrive with a new faucet but determine the pvc is so yellowed and fragile that if I disturb it to replace the faucet head I'll do more damage so I just replace the handle. Now I'm thinking like a beach trailer park handyman. Avoid problems but don't try to make a masterpiece. Everything here will be wiped off the map when a hurricane named Oggy arrives with fury. Then it's off to meet my arch enemy, the Harbor Breeze line of ceiling fans and lights. Lowes or Home Depot sell these cheap pot metal Chinese abominations and they are the bane of every maintenance man's existence. I can't go into detail of how badly these were designed but nothing is easy on them once something breaks. And the chain switch always breaks. Fortunately they are replaceable, but at the cost of blood and tears to reassemble the whole thing on a ladder in the dark with a bad shoulder. After that is done and I find the cat that escaped while the door was open, I go hang a bunch of vinyl window blinds in a unit that I wouldn't take for free but is going to be rented for $750/month. Someone has ordered them all 3 inches too short because they measured the inside of the window frame but didn't realize that the windows all have interior windows to keep the heat out so you can't mount anything on the inside of the window. The drywall has all deteriorated from moisture and crack smoke so you will be laughed at if you attempt to put new brackets up on the drywall. If hanging cheap blinds up in a single wide mobile home with Death Metal playing in the neighbor's radio doesn't make you feel like ant shit on sand dune then I don't know what will. I do this for 9 windows.
Then I get a call to cut locks at the storage units because some folks didn't pay the ferryman. I like cutting metal. The sparks fly and hit me in the face. I feel like a man. I go with an angle grinder and cut the locks off. Yes, they go on the auction block eventually and if you want to pay money for a half a bag of disposable diapers and some old Life magazines then be my guest. There are no treasures in these storage units. Maybe a dead body, but no treasures. Example: someone recently broke into one of them by tearing off the metal wall and didn't steal anything.
Eventually I have lunch of a $2 microwave dinner from Family Dollar. It makes me constipated but the calories are mostly fat and I'm trying to stay alive. I've added a hole to my belt and probably have a 32 inch waist now, all bony pelvic bones. Me and the other handyman talk about scooters and munch junk food.

Hondamatic. I'm just not that into a clutchless motorcycle

Dropped this potato and it looked like this five seconds later. Tiny fire ants are my worst enemy.

The rest of the day is an assortment of minor problems. The lady who drives me around because they don't yet trust me with keys bites her nails and frantically smokes cigarettes, freaking out at the most insignificant repair. Me? I laugh because work is the easiest 8 hours of my day. In Austin I got paid $7.50 to work in steaming attics lugging 6 inch steel pipe fittings around. I might clear $20 in an 8 hour day and would not be able to tie my shoes the next morning. At the trailer park I make nearly $100 a day doing stuff I don't even consider work. This is the kind of thing any Christian would do for free while the tea was getting cold in the ice. But they pay me and are amazed that I can do almost all of it with my Victorinox multi tool. I don't like using my own tools but the sheds are a total mess and the haphazard way the work orders are assigned make preparing for each job impossible. Changing that one light switch took several trips around the park in a time wasting circus as I'm basically chauffeured around by a woman smoking cigarettes as she gripes about her job. I smile because I know I'm on the kind of job my Labor Ready grunts used to dream about...

"Get a golf cart to drive around it. Breeze in your face. Water bottles in the rec room refrigerator. Fix a light. Pick up some trash. Mow a lawn. Easy money. The ladies in the office tell you to take a break and you sit down and act like it's a million degrees outside. Maybe get two hours of work done in 8 hours. Easy money. $350-$400 a week guaranteed. None of this bullshit of waking up at 5 am to get your shovels and bust your ass digging trenches all damn day for $30. No. On the handyman gig you drive around your cart and chew your gum and get fat and happy."

Well, I got the fat ticket and I'm not complaining. As a man said this morning when I asked him how he was doing," I'm doing good, but I'll get over it."

I think Al had a El Camino like this in Redwood City
We really used to talk about these types of jobs like they were myths homeless people tell each other during the rainy season, big rock candy mountain, whiskey bubbling up from the hillside, apple pies on every window sill. I'm embarrassed to take money but I tell myself to suck it up, bank some change and get my bass guitar. It's chaos and it's money. I'm trying to make my money to get my teeth cleaned and go to Mexico to teach accordion to orphans.

I destroyed this RV with a sawzall and got a sunburn

Will WD40 fix this motor?

A bird other than a Grackle. A kind of Desert Swallow and mate on the power line

I'm losing power now and I'm going to sign off. I am torn between writing nothing at all or writing what I can write and trusting my instincts to get me in the ballpark. The key to writing as a journalist/blogger is to write fast enough that it's not a huge time commitment. But if your instincts aren't good then it won't be satisfying. I'm aiming for a new language/style and occasionally I see it on the poetic edges of my mad ranting. The rants help me find that voice but the rants themselves are not that voice, but they are the voice of the hurt homeless man who has no voice and who must speak through me. Listen to him because he is old and hurt and soon will be dead.


Anonymous said...

I liked it cause it wasn't just a rant.....

Oggy Bleacher said...

Did we drive an El Cam like that around in Redwood? I vaguely remember it between the Rabbit and the one that had the wheel fall off on the highway.

Anonymous said...

Good memory, but no, My pops had one that I drove around NH for a while....

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.