Follows are two stories that describe some events that happened last week. There is nothing political, economic or market related in these (not a word about Social Security); so if that’s what you’re looking for, come back another time. From my perspective, there’s nothing funny about these tales. I hope you get a laugh on me.
I’m up at 5:30 as usual, still dark outside, I have a look, there’s two inches of wet snow on the ground.
I check the weather, it’s going to be warm later, so I make an executive decision, text the plow guy, tell him not to come, save myself the $75. I’m thinking it’s a good start to the day.
It was around 9 that the UPS guy knocked on the door. He made it up to the crest of the drive before getting stuck. And can I please help him get unstuck, as he has a route to do. And why didn’t I plow? Him not happy at all.
So I get dressed, get outside with a chain and my pickup with 4WD. But walking with the chain I fall ass over tea-kettle, hitting my head and arm at the same time. I’m bleeding from the scrapes in the palm of my hand, small chucks of gravel stuck in the skin. But I get it together and hook things up and get ready to pull. It was just at that time that I see the County Oil truck coming up the hill. The driver is flashing his lights and beeping his horn as he doesn’t want to stop on the slippery drive. The UPS guy is screaming Go! Go! Go!
I drop it into low, hit the gas – that was a mistake. There was 8′ foot of slack in the chain, just enough for me to get going. And wham! It was like running into a wall. I get knocked into the steering wheel (who wears a seat belt in the fucking driveway?). The UPS guys comes running up saying that he was “sorry”, he had left the step-van in gear, and could we try it again, this time without the fucking yank?
I got UPS out of the way, but the oil truck is now stuck as he had to come to a halt. He backs up 3′, tries to go forward, fails, backs up again, fails again. At this point, both drivers are yelling at me.
Klaudia, who lives in the guest house, is pacing around, she can’t get out because of the trucks. She’s got a plane to Cleveland in two hours and has to go, but that is a dead end too. Her asking again and again, “How long is this going to take?”
The oil truck was a big one, 9000 gallons of #2 fuel. The guy tries to back out, but, sure enough, his double axle real wheels slip off the pavement at the bend. For 30 minutes he tries to get out of trouble. All the time spinning those big tires, tearing up the pony paddock, mud flying, lawn ruined. Now everyone is yelling. But it got worse.
The truck’s ass is in the field, and also on a grade, so it’s tilting back and sideways too. Sure enough, this truck was not supposed to lean like this, now there is diesel fuel leaking out of the fill pipe. All in, 200 gallons were lost.
So now there is a complete cluster fuck. The oil company has to call one of those monster tow-trucks to get this beast out of the mud. The tow cost 1000 an hour, and the truck is so big that it can’t get over the bridge from town, so it has to come the long-way around, and gets lost in the process.
Also arriving is a Haz Mat crew. Oil spills are a problem, so the fucking County inspectors have to be around to make sure it’s cleaned up right. One nerdy inspector guy was talking on a big old walkie-talkie, him saying stuff like “Unit one to base”. I’m thinking, get a fucking cell….
Klaudia’s watching all this, still dressed to the nines. Her all in black for a funeral she was supposed to be going to. The inspector guy is making time with her, then out of the walkie-talkie comes “waddayawaant?” Him asking, “How deep should we dig?” The voice comes back, “until it don’t smell no more”. So our boy says “Roger”, then asks Klaudia if she’d help him smell some dirt. She walks off, everyone heard her mutter, “Asshole”.
The Haz Mat guys were spreading stuff to sop up the oil, the inspectors say, “no good, ya gotta dig it all out”. So a big Case backhoe, and a 10 yd dump truck is called in. Before it was over, they took two trucks loads and at least 15 yards out of the field. Left the hole, of course. Looks like I got hit with a meteor.
The bosses from the oil company show up. They are looking at a $10k bill for this, and they are pissed. They fire the driver right on the spot, me feeling bad about that as the same guy had been delivering me fuel for years now, but what the fuck can I do? The driver screaming that he has two kids and it’s not his fault that the homeowner didn’t take care of the drive. (Later I heard that the guy wasn’t fired, it was just for show)
Anyway, the County Oil guys say it’s all my fault, dangerous conditions and all that. Them saying they will send me a copy of the contract where the fine print says they’re not liable for shit. And what is the number for my insurance agent, and just in case, give me your lawyer’s number too…
Anyway, they all left just now, except Klaudia, who missed the fucking plane to Detroit. And it’s only quarter-to-two…………
Danny, the plumber, shows up around nine, he’s here to replace some old steam traps. Dan’s been in the trade for quite a few years, and like most plumbers, he’s got a good nose for a bad smell. He walks in the kitchen, says right away, “You gotta problem, something stinks, I think it’s the septic.”
For a homeowner, this is terrible news. Right away I’m thinking the worst; backhoes, dump trucks, leeching fields, permits, inspections – a crisis.
So we go outside, and sure enough, there is a bad smell in the air. But right away I knew that my worst fears would not be realized. I turn to the plumber, “That ain’t sewage, that’s dead meat!”
Dan and I walked around, he’s not convinced on the the source of the smell, he’s sniffing for leeching brown water, I was looking for something dead. Nothing. We went back in, as it was cold outside.
Around noon, the neighbor’s dog was making a racket. A bit unusual, as this old dog rarely barks. I went out to yell at the dog to shut-up, and there’s that rotten odor again. It’s that bad smell, unmistakable – decayed meat. I did some more walking around with my nose in the air, didn’t find a thing. I was hoping that maybe “it” will just go away – and wondering what it was all about.
Later that day I came up the drive and was very surprised by what I saw. Two big turkey vultures sitting on the chimney. The good news was that I had found the source of the mal-odor; the bad news was that I had buzzards on the roof.
This is a problem of my own making. Last fall I (finally) got around to redoing that old chimney, it had needed pointing and repairs for years. The new orange flue pipe is twelve inches wide; the normal is only eight, so a special metal cap had to be made. As it turns out, the metal rain cover made a perfect landing strip for the buzzards.
Fifty feet up, the birds have a long view. They know that they are perched where no dog or human will bother them. (I yelled at them repeatedly, it didn’t bother them a bit) The real attraction for the buzzards was not the view – it was the heat. The boilers in the basement push hot exhaust gases up the flue, creating a spa like environment for the nasty beasts.
This proves (to me) that buzzards aren’t stupid. But they do stink. These monsters were on the roof digesting their last meal (and all the related things that implies). That was one part of the odor problem; the other is that these birds have a natural smell to them, no doubt, the product of a lifetime of eating carrion.
I asked a neighbor who’s been around the country block what could be done. He came over, saw my buzzards enjoying their heated resting place, and said right away, “They’ll ruin the roof and the new chimney too. Ya gotta kill em. I’ll do it for free.”
I don’t kill anything, not even vultures that are wrecking the house, stinking up the yard and driving the neighbor’s dog wild – so that offer was rejected. Now it’s Saturday morning, a cold one at that. I just looked – the buzzards are back. I don’t suppose anyone has a suggestion? I could use one.