When the Pocketknife Leaves, it Rarely Returns

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThe recliner finally gave me back my pocket knife.

I exclaimed when I saw it on the floor next to the back chair leg.

I had been convinced the whole time it was somewhere in there amidst the frame, the springs and other parts that make up a chair.

I had searched for it everywhere my hand would fit, but I never could retrieve it.

Then weeks later out of nowhere, poof. There it was.

I still carry a pocketknife just about all the time. I guess it’s a holdover from my fairly rural upbringing.

I have a few old ones and some that have never seen the inside of a pocket.

My collection would be bigger if it weren’t for my uncanny ability to lose them.

Here are three examples.

Several years ago, we tagged along with Grant to Florida on a group diving trip. During the course of the day, my pants pocket developed a hole and my knife fell out. It was a beautiful knife and almost new. I was crushed.

After we got home, however, I got wind that someone else on the trip found it. I was able to get his phone number, and I called him.

As unbelievable as it sounds, he said he might remember finding it.

Come on, Bubba. I think you remember whether you found a pocketknife or not.

And then, he said he thought he remembered tossing it in his toolbox. He would look for it and let me know if he found it.

Click.

Example No. 2 was my own fault.

I was building a deck at our house. I don’t remember why I had my knife out in the first place, but I did.

Soon after I had finished the project, I realized it was missing.

So, what looked like a brand new deck only seconds before now looked like a structure where one entombs a knife.

I’m not sure how I managed to lay it down then nail a bunch of boards on top of it, but I did.

For the last one, let’s jump in the way-back machine to 1984.

Kim and I had tickets to the Jacksons concert in Neyland Stadium.

In the days leading up to the show, some nut job, somewhere, had threatened Michael or maybe the whole family. I don’t remember.

As a result, security was tightened, and the security guard wouldn’t let me take in my pocketknife.

I scoured the concourse area of the stadium trying to find a hiding place for it. It had a significant amount of sentimental value. It was my first knife, plus my uncle had given it to me.

I walked around and surveyed the criss-crossed I-beam skeleton until I found what I thought would be a good hiding place.

When I got closer, I realized it must have in fact been a great hiding place, because someone else had already hidden their knife there.

Yes, of course I put my knife right next to it, and the word naiveté was forever redefined.

That was a long time ago, and I’m more streetwise now. 

Maybe I’m getting better at keeping up with them as well. Not counting the recliner incident, I haven’t lost one in a while now.

Of course, as long as pockets have holes and the world has crooks, there is always a chance.

Hats Off to Those Who Cover Weather Events

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI watched a significant amount of news coverage of Hurricane Irma over the weekend.

I admire those correspondents who can stand out in torrential rains and 100-mph winds with perfect hair while saying coherent things in the camera despite the fact that a flying stop sign could chop off their head at any minute.

On my first day in the news business, I acted significantly different during a similar situation.

The summer of 1985 started with me working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Huntsville, Ala. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I didn’t have a very important job. I spent my day with a spray can of stainless steel cleaner and a rag making sure my area was spotless.

While I was grateful for the opportunity, polishing stainless steel all day and into the night was a bit monotonous.

My prayers were answered, however, later in the summer when I got a call from the newspaper in Athens, Ala. They wanted me to work up until fall quarter doing some general assignment writing.

Hallelujah.

My boss at the Coke plant let me out of my offer to work out a notice. It wasn’t like I held the secret formula or anything, but still, I appreciated him for it.

The next morning, I barreled into the newsroom about the same time as the remnants of Hurricane Elena barreled toward north Alabama.

To the best of my recollection I clocked in, put my pimento cheese sandwich in the refrigerator and immediately took cover under a big counter in the composing room.

That’s where I met my co-workers.

The publisher was a big, burly guy who could smoke an entire cigarette while typing a story without ever touching it with his hands. He was under there, along with three or four other employees, including the sports editor.

I already liked him because he had put my name in the paper once and said I “put the icing on the cake” for making the game-winning free throw during my junior high basketball career.

They all seemed nice enough. Of course, it was dark, and we were under a tornado warning, so I guess they may have been afraid not to be nice just in case we met our demise over the next 15 minutes or so.

After the storm had passed, my boss sent me to some remote place out in the county where the tornado reportedly touched down.

I felt like Jim being sent by Marlin Perkins into a hyena den, but what choice did I have?

I was supposed to look for a little store, where the damage reportedly occurred. When I got there, all I saw was a concrete slab. The walls were gone. The roof was gone. The shelves, cans of food, milk, bread, everything was gone.

Vanished.

It was surreal.

I took a couple of photos, talked to a guy in overalls, then flew back to the newsroom to file my story.

I was the primary contributor to the lead story on my first day of work. I felt like Edward R. Murrow or any of the other greats we’d learned about in journalism school.

Of course, Ed probably wouldn’t have ridden the storm out under a counter.

How About a Little Pillow Talk

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comWe bought new bed pillows a few weeks ago.

I didn’t really want to, because I loved my old pillow. While it had grown old and lumpy, I liked it because I could twist it like a pretzel to get just the firmness I needed.

It was hard to part with — much like a favorite pair of jeans or a first car.

Kim and I went to one of those stores that specializes in things like bedding, towels and other household stuff; you know the one. They have everything from silicone spatulas in 14 shapes and sizes to massaging chairs.

I had no idea pillow shopping was so complicated. I was expecting to go in, pay about $10 and leave with my new pillow.

Oh, no. It doesn’t work that way.

They do have $10 pillows tossed about in four or five big wire bins. 

But our pillow sales specialist swooped us away from the common pillows in favor of the fancy pillow section as soon as she approached us.

“What kind of pillow are you looking for?” she asked.

What kind of a question is that? I’m looking for one that is already broken in, comfy and costs $10.

They had all kinds of pillows — feather pillows, down pillows, contour pillows, foam pillows, just to name a few.

“Do you sleep on your back, your stomach, or are you a side sleeper?”

That’s a thing, too, I learned. The type of pillow perfect for your precious little noggin depends on how you sleep.

After she gave us a brief lesson on pillow technology, our pillow sales specialist started pulling the demo pillows off the shelf one-by-one and explaining the unique features of each.

They all felt about the same to me. As I squeezed them, I was more concerned with how many pillow shoppers before me had squeezed and even possibly pressed their face into them.

I’ll bet even some of the riffraff who buy pillows from those big wire bins had even wandered over to see how the other half lives at one time or another.

Our pillow sales specialist bragged on their hassle-free return policy. She said we could exchange them after up to two weeks.

With that knowledge, I started paying more attention to the packaging to make sure I wasn’t getting Chester Somebody’s reject pillow.

I decided on a memory foam pillow that had some kind of magic power which is supposed to keep it cool. Needless to say, my $10 didn’t go very far, but I’m not going to buy another pillow… well, ever, so why not splurge?

Sadly, I wasn’t taken with it right from the get-go. I couldn’t twist it like a pretzel. It was a little flat, and it was too firm for me to put it on its edge.

I nicknamed it Spam, because it was shaped like a big can of Spam.

That didn’t work very well, because saying, “Goodnight, Spam” just made me hungry every time I got into bed, so I changed its name to Slab.

Slab is huge. One wrong move, and everything goes flying off the nightstand. If anyone ever challenges me to a pillow fight, Slab and I will clean house.

On the upside, I had always wondered what memory foam meant, and now I do.

It means you’ll always remember your trusty, lumpy old pillow.

How Sunday School Gave Me a Sense of Direction

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have spent my entire life trying to improve my sense of direction.

I still have my clueless moments, but for the most part, I know my north from my south.

And it’s all because of the 23rd Psalm.

I don’t remember exactly how old we were — probably 8 or 9 years old — when our Sunday School teacher challenged us to learn the 23rd Psalm.

Those who learned it would win a prize.

What kind of prize? Who cares. It didn’t matter. Prizes weren’t quite so plentiful back then as I recall.

I don’t remember much about the process of learning it, but I’m sure it was laborious and fraught with frustration on everyone’s part. It was quite an assignment.

I distinctly remember some of my early interpretations of the passage. I didn’t understand what having my head anointed with oil really meant. I envisioned a quart of Quaker State 30-weight dripping onto my shirt. Compound that with my cup running over, and all I could think about was how much trouble I would be in for making such a mess.

I finally grew into understanding it, and on a good day, I can still recite it perfectly.

My prize was a United States map puzzle.

It was gloriously colorful, about the size of a dish towel. Each state was a piece of the puzzle with the state name and the state capital, and a picture representing something about each state.

Tennessee’s little picture was a fiddle. Alabama’s was a cotton boll. Florida’s was a rocket. That’s all I remember.

I played with it tirelessly. I learned a lot about the geography of the United States because of it.

I also learned north, south, east and west.

I put it away for the last time decades ago. But I continue to think about it on a regular basis.

It is my mental compass.

Let’s say I ask for directions, and the person tells me my destination is to my east. All I have to do is close my eyes and pull up the mental image of that puzzle, envision Michigan or Montana, then hang a right and head toward North Carolina.

It hasn’t failed me yet.

I don’t rely on envisioning the map per se as much as I used to. But it’s one of those things burned in my mind that I cannot unsee, so to speak.

It’s kind of like how the smell of apple pie always makes one think of grandma’s house.

I wish more people would’ve had a United States map puzzle. I am continuously baffled by how people have no concept of directions. I see it all the time.

My office is on the southeast corner of Church and Third streets. For those of us lucky enough to have a United States map puzzle burned into our brain, all we have to do is hypothetically stand in the middle of the intersection facing north, hold our puzzle in front of us and head over our right shoulder toward Florida.

I can’t tell you how many times I get a call about 5 minutes after the meeting is supposed to start from someone who is circling the wrong block.

Maybe that’s why we need the Lord to lead us beside the still waters, because we would never be able to get there on our own.

Ah, Those Meals in the Hayfield

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comOne of my first jobs was hauling hay.

I started when I was 12 or 13 helping my uncle by driving the tractor that pulled the hay wagon. 

At least I think I helped. In the early days, I probably hindered more than anything.

I would do my best to try and serpentine the wagon through the field as two bigger boys on the ground walked alongside and threw the rectangular bales to someone on the wagon who stacked them.

As I grew older, I became one of those bigger boys. And before I hung up my gloves for the last time, I had spent quite a few grueling and offensively hot, dusty days in the hay field.

Every work day started with a trip to the store.

The store we would visit depended on where we were working that day. But, they were all the same. Each one had a wooden screen door with a spring attached to it which made the noise a spring makes as it slammed behind us as we entered. Rows of wooden shelves sat on a dark gray concrete floor.

The old man at the cash register wore overalls while always consuming a tobacco product in one form or another.

Our purchase consisted of a honeybun, a can of Beanie Weenies and a couple of cans of Sun Drop sodas apiece.

In case you’re one of the uncultured, Sun Drop is a citrus soda which was the most popular soft drink where I grew up. I can only assume it still is. Many would argue Sun Drop was right behind Baptist as being the most popular religious denomination, as well.

The honeybun was breakfast. The Beanie Weenies were lunch.

It was all delectable.

Of course, now I look back and wonder how we could work until noon without a molecule of protein. I guess it’s because we didn’t know we needed any.

It also had something to do with the fact that anyone on the crew who complained about being hungry, or anything else, earned himself the job of climbing into the sweltering barn loft to catch the bales as they were tossed up. It was the worst part of the job.

I had originally planned to write about how we could eat good-tasting food back then guilt-free because we led an active lifestyle where we — I suppose — burned up all the bad stuff.

I apologize to all you dietitians out there for that one, but you know what I mean.

I will admit, I would give almost anything to be able to spend a day noshing on honeybuns, Beanie Weenies, Sun Drops and whatever else I wanted without a particle of guilt.

Come on over, Froot Loops, hotdogs on white bread, chocolate milk and any food containing the word chip.

Let’s party.

I know I’m remembering it more fondly than it really was. Maybe it wasn’t the food. Maybe it was the newfound experience of making a couple of dollars combined with the independence of being able to eat whatever we wanted. Making choices like that was a new concept for us back in those days.

Nah, it was the food. I’m dying for a can of Beanie Weenies right now, but I’m certainly not wanting to climb into a barn loft.

That Time I Didn’t Pole Vault

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comAnother school year has started, which triggers the annual revisiting of my first day of seventh grade.

Or, as it has come to be known inside my head, “The Scariest Day of My Life.”

Seventh grade was the first year we started changing classes. We went from controlling the elementary school to being tossed in with the eighth grade through senior classes.

There was no such thing as a seventh-grade hall, pod or anything else of the like. We were right there looking eye-to-belt buckle at the varsity football offensive line and having lockers right next to cheerleaders who had only existed in the yearbook until then.

My first brush with death that day came as I lurched down the dark, dank staircase that led from the gym to the locker room. That is where I and my seventh grade brethren would change clothes for PE.

After changing clothes faster than I had ever changed clothes in my life, I started back up the steps to wait for the coach — whose instructions from the principal, I was convinced — were to kill all the seventh graders.

As I walked up the steps, I passed the meanest person in the world. He was an eighth grader I will not name, as he is likely still the meanest person in the world.

As soon as he passed me, he turned to scream a string of obscenities to the person coming down behind him. I was sandwiched in the middle.

I had heard those words before, but never used together like that, at such loud volume, or accompanied by the spit that flew out of his mouth and hit my arm as he yelled them.

Did I mention it was barely 10 a.m.?

For the first day of PE, all of the seventh grade boys were told to sit on the bleachers. Then, after about 5 minutes, as I recall, here came four or five high schoolers who ordered us to start walking toward the football field. One carried a vaulting pole.

A vaulting pole. A pole which one uses to pole vault.

I immediately knew how they were going to kill all the seventh graders.

They were going to make us pole vault.

So, 40 or so of us doomed 12 year-olds began our dead-man-walking march to the football field, which, ironically, took us past the elementary school building.

Oh, to be a sixth grader again. So innocent. Such a bright future.

We filed one-by-one through the narrow gap between the football field fence and the corner of the school building. We blindly followed the big guys — including the one carrying the vaulting pole — to an open area behind the home-side bleachers.

There it was. The pole vaulting area.

All the equipment was new. I suppose the local orthopedic surgeon donated it.

I replayed the imminent horror in my head over and over.

I saw myself vaulting 25 or maybe 100 feet in the air then missing the landing pad by 6 inches. They would rename Main Street in memory of me.

Maybe I would never get off the ground. Maybe the end of the pole I was holding would impale me when I tried to launch myself.

I wish I were exaggerating this more than I am.

As it turned out, though, we weren’t forced to pole vault; and I don’t remember if anyone ever even did.

It’s ironic that with all those big kids — some armed with 20-foot poles — my fear was my own worst enemy that day.

How Will We Act During the Solar Eclipse?

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI rarely write about upcoming events because it usually never dawns on me to do it until after I’ve already filed my column.

This week, however, is different. In fact, I’m running a week ahead because I cannot contain my excitement about the solar eclipse, which — as you already know — occurs on Aug. 21.

This is the first total solar eclipse America has seen in a long, long time. 

An article in The Washington Post said the eclipse “will be the biggest astronomical event America has seen in years, watched by millions of people from within the path of totality and tens of millions more who are outside it. One astronomer has said it will be the ‘most photographed, most shared, most tweeted event in human history.’”

That’s a pretty impressive statement.

I live in the path of totality, which is a 70-mile wide band stretching across the nation.

I’m excited. I’m also concerned. I know how we can sometimes be around here.

I’m already tremendously disappointed in the way school systems are handling this event. Instead of going out into the schoolyard en masse with their protective glasses to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, many schools are dismissing for the day.

So, instead of a student somewhere possibly being inspired to become interested in astronomy, or space, or the environment, or natural science in general, we’re making it real easy for him or her to reduce the event to a Snapchat selfie — or even worse — to sit in their bedroom and text about it being so dark outside.

Of course, teachers are probably afraid “that kid” — which every class has — would take off his glasses, sunburn his eyes and then sue the school system, thereby getting the teacher fired.

Still, it seems like a wasted educational opportunity.

I’m also concerned about how we will act as a society in general. “That kid” from school usually grows up to be “that guy” at work or down the street. 

I see the total solar eclipse as a potential “hey, y’all, watch this” occasion.

Don’t be surprised if you turn on the news on the night of the 21st expecting to hear some astronomer gloating about the phenomenon and instead seeing the reporter interviewing the hospital PR person about the spike in emergency room visits during the day.

I’m also concerned because it’s going to be dark for a couple of minutes in the middle of the day. I can’t drive a mile at night without seeing someone with their lights off. How can we expect everyone who will be driving during the eclipse to turn on their lights?

On the bright side, I haven’t heard yet of many crackpots predicting how the eclipse will kick off the end of the world. Apocalyptic predictions seem extremely likely given all the garbage oozing through the internet these days.

I do fully expect to start hearing the term “eclipse forecast” from meteorologists within the next day or two. I vow not to get too excited when it’s a good one or too bummed when clouds are predicted, because it will change 75 times between now and then.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that a majority of us can enjoy the eclipse for the wondrous spectacle that it promises to be. Maybe we’ll reflect on how vast and mysterious the universe is.

My primary hope, however, is “that kid” will get something out of it.

Being an Adult is Hard; Being a Grown-up is Harder

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comBack in 2013 when we were dealing with my mother’s end-of-life issues, Kim said, “Aren’t the grown-ups supposed to handle this?”

I’m not sure I ever heard anything that rang more true.

We had been adults for a long time. But the circumstances surrounding that difficult situation were merely some of many experiences that added to our continual evolution into grown-ups.

Adult is just a legal term. It happens automatically when we turn 18. Being a grown-up, however, is much more figurative. It’s an upshot of life experiences and heart-wrenching decisions combined with a changing perspective on the way we see the world in general. It happens to everyone.

The term “adulting’ gets a lot of attention these days. In fact, I wrote about it a few months ago. Adulting is the term young adults use when they are forced to start doing adult things like paying the electric bill and remembering to change the AC filter.

Just yesterday, though, it was brought to my attention again how being an adult and being a grown-up are two different things when one of my few remaining relatives in my parents’ generation passed away.

The adults in the family know they have to attend the funeral. The grown-ups will ponder their own mortality during it.

Being an adult means going to funerals. Being a grown-up means being a pallbearer.

Being an adult means wanting to have kids. Being a grown-up means wishing they could stay kids forever.

Being an adult means getting off your parents’ health insurance. Being a grown-up means checking the news five or six times a day to make sure you still have health insurance.

Being an adult means learning to appreciate fried okra. Being a grown-up means learning how to fry it.

Being an adult means getting a mortgage. Being a grown-up means hoping you won’t have to get a reverse mortgage.

Being an adult means getting your own pet. Being a grown-up means making a real tough phone call to your child at college.

Being an adult means finding a life partner. Being a grown-up means praying you’ll pass first, while feeling guilty for really hoping you’ll pass together.

Being an adult means never having to ask permission. Being a grown-up means knowing if you have to ask, you probably don’t have any business doing it in the first place.

Being an adult means loving to hear new music. Being a grown-up means being glad you can still hear anything.

Being an adult means appreciating reading as a hobby. Being a grown-up means appreciating reading glasses.

Not all of these apply to me, by the way. I can still hear perfectly fine; and everyone knows blurry is the new 20-20.

Being an adult means wishing you played in a community basketball league. Being a grown-up means wishing the game on TV started earlier than 9 p.m.

Being an adult means getting a haircut. Being a grown-up means clipping hair from the strangest of places.

Being an adult means pulling a muscle while exercising. Being a grown-up means pulling a muscle getting in the bed.

Being an adult means bragging about the great deal you got on your car. Being a grown-up means bragging about the gas mileage it gets.

Being an adult means buying trick-or-treat candy. Being a grown-up means buying your favorite trick-or-treat candy and hoping it rains on Halloween.

Being an adult is hard. Being a grown-up is harder

At least grown-ups get better candy sometimes.

The Magic of the Warehouse Shopping Club

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comWe went to one of those big-box warehouse stores yesterday.

Every time I walk through the door — which isn’t very often — some kind of force of the universe transforms me into this person who is very unlike my normal self.

For some reason, I can’t stop wanting to put stuff I don’t need in my extra-wide shopping cart.

Yesterday, I actually stopped and picked up a 48-pack of ink pens. Initially, I thought how neat it would be to have 48 new pens that didn’t have the name of a hotel written on the side.

Then, I snapped out of it and put them back on the hook. How could anyone ever need 48 ink pens? Maybe a monk who is transcribing the bible, but other than that, I don’t know.

We needed marinara sauce. We didn’t, however, need a skid of marinara sauce. No one needs that much of any kind of sauce. Nevertheless, I was tempted.

I could make some kind of a joke about the size and/or quantity of everything in there, but that’s been done to death.

I have never, however, heard much about how being in a store like that changes people’s behavior in general. Everyone seems to become transformed into shopping zombies when they walk through the door.

We get a faraway look in our eyes, we don’t talk, we walk methodically up and down all 400 aisles doing mental math to figure out if 128 ounces of niblet corn at $8.95 makes more sense than just buying a regular-size can or two at the grocery store.

Yesterday, one woman had a radio blaring from her diaper bag. It wasn’t offensively loud, but it was annoying. Plus, it was reggae music, which upped the annoyance factor just a smidgen more.

As you can imagine, it was like she was chasing me around the store. Every time I rounded the corner, there she was — jamming away as she loaded down her cart with stuff she certainly didn’t need either.

Every time I go to any store, there is always one person who manages to get in my way on every aisle, then beat me to the register before cutting me off in the parking lot on the way out.

Yesterday, she managed to do all three with the Bob Marley cranked up.

One thing we were actually looking for was 8-ounce bottled waters for vacation bible school. Our 200-mile trek in search of something I thought was pretty common ended in defeat, however.

They had all sizes of bottles: huge, even more huge and titanically-enormous. But they had no 8-ounce bottles.

Doesn’t that just figure? I guess we’re becoming even more of a super-sized society.

In the end, though, what started out as a shopping trip for only a couple of things ended up costing a mere $178.

If you need to borrow a can of mushrooms, just let me know.

Of course, in my family no shopping trip is complete without someone in the car on the way home ceremoniously announcing, “I know what we forgot get…”

Yesterday it was eggs.

Maybe it’s a memory thing. The next time I swing by that store, I may have to invest in a pallet of ginkgo biloba.

The Invasion of the Roofers; Quite a Spectacle

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comWe Americans love our summers.

Nineteen sixty-seven gave us the summer of love.

Bryan Adams sang about “The Summer of ’69.”

And if you’re a fan of the“Seinfeld” sitcom, you certainly remember the episode titled “The Summer of George.”

I’ve had lots of great summers. One of my favorites was my senior year of college when I moved off campus into an apartment. My two courses that summer were history of rock and roll and some kind of a geography class, which meant I had lots of time to hang out with Kim at the apartment pool.

This summer, however, has not made the top 40 list of favorites.

Allow me to describe to you The Summer of the Roofers.

Back on March 21, we had a historically catastrophic hailstorm. It affected a large part of town. My neighborhood was especially hard hit.

It lasted 20 minutes, and many of the hailstones were as big as tennis balls.

Cars were determined to be total losses, trees were mangled, and everyone’s roof was damaged.

When it was all over, the yard looked like a polar ice cap.

As soon as the ice cap melted, the roofers invaded.

Most came from out of town — if not out of state — driving fancy pickups with their toll-free-800 numbers painted on the side.

They were ruthless. They stuck temporary signs at every entrance to the neighborhood. They stole each other’s signs.

We had to wear camouflage anytime we were in the front yard and dive behind the shrubbery when we saw one coming.

The entire month of April was like a Jehovah’s Witness training camp.

One evening the doorbell rang while I was sitting in the living room, and without looking I yelled “we already have a roofer” through the door.

I had no idea a girl scout loaded down with Thin Mints could run so fast.

The next step in the roofing process is the ceremonial arrival of the shingles.

This is a procession where a truck pulls a flatbed trailer full of shingles with a forklift hanging off the back through the neighborhood at 4 mph while looking for the house where he has been dispatched.

This normally happens when I am trying to get somewhere in a hurry, which is most of the time.

Then, the truck stops in the middle of the road and the guy blocks the other lane with the forklift while unloading the shingles.

When the roofing crew arrives, they take their direction from the guy who brought the shingles and park in the middle of the road as well.

And heaven forbid anyone ever ride together, because if they did, there wouldn’t be seven vehicles at each job site.

Between the roofers and the mowing crews — who park exactly the same way — every time I leave the house I have to slalom out of the neighborhood hoping I don’t smash into a forklift parked crossways in the road.

The hammering and banging is a daily ritual from dawn until dark.

It’s seven days a week. It’s been going on so long I still hear it even after it stops.

The other day, a crew had mariachi music blaring from the radio.

After a couple of hours, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, just like Pavlov’s dog, I loaded up the family and had Mexican for lunch.

We’re now four months after the storm, and I would say not even half of the houses have been done. Ours hasn’t.

I told our guy not to hurry though, because when I get my new insurance premium, it’s just going to go through the roof anyway.

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