Nearly every winter I have had to trap a flying squirrel or two in my attic and send them packing. Fortunately, I have a walk-out attic easily accessible from my 13 year-old’s closet. When she was an infant, I went on a hunting excursion and learned a valuable lesson – Don’t walk on rafters in socked feet. Yup, I slid right off the rafter and ended up perched on a 2×10 with half of me in the attic and half of me in the family room. Two of my kids and my nephew were watching a Christmas special and all three instantly yelled, “We didn’t do it!” to my lovely wife who stood looking up at my dangling feet.
I’m not sure if I caught the little critter on that trip, but it did force a trip to the hardware store where Hershel works. Hershel is the best. He’s a little old guy who is slightly stooped from years of hard work. He can fix anything better than anyone who comes in the store, but he is never condescending about:
- a) your lack of knowledge or
- b) your stupidity for breaking whatever you came in to fix.
Hershel: Morning Mark, what can I do for you?
Me: I need some drywall.
Hershel: Big project? (His eyes light up! He loves big projects – not only because of what he can sell you, but he also lives vicariously through his customers’ building experiences.)
Me: Nah, actually a really small one.
Hershel: Well, the smallest we’ve got is 4 x 8. They’re in aisle seven. Follow me.
I don’t follow and he notices.
Hershel: What’s the matter?
Me: Nothing smaller? (I look down and estimate the size of my feet, adding an appropriate amount for overage.)
Hershel knows instantly: Where’s the hole?
Me (eyes still low indicating appropriate shame): The den.
Hershel doesn’t flinch or betray just how dumb he thinks I am. Telling me how much patchwork I have in store, he leads me to drywall area and loads me up with tape, mud, sandpaper, screws, and ceiling paint.
Hershel: Once Betty checks you out, go round back. Beside the dumpster, we’ve got lots of broken pieces of sheetrock. You just pick one out and take it with you.
Me: But I really only need about four screws. You sure this is the smallest size?
Hershel: We sell ‘em by the pound. That’s just one pound – smallest we got.
I wondered what genius came up with selling a countable product by volume, but yielded to Hershel’s judgment and headed home. A few days of work and the hole was patched – good as new!
This all leads me to the 4th of July weekend. We are updating the 13 year-old’s room, making it more teen and less little girl. This necessitated a few trips to the attic to store things. You guessed it, I missed a rafter.
Can a house really be considered a home until you’ve broken through the ceiling… twice?
A trip to the store. Hershel, slowed but still knowledgeable and helpful, stood leaning against the wall as I entered.
Herschel: Hey there, Mark. What can I do ya for?
I’ve long gotten over embarrassment over mayhem and destruction I’ve caused in my home. I confidently replied: I need some drywall.
Herschel: Where’s the hole.
Me: It’s in the garage this time. I’ve got the screws leftover from the last time and I don’t need your mud and tape because I don’t care how it looks. (I look at him pleadingly).
He knows what I want, laughs, and says: Sure, go round back and get you a piece… and be more careful next time.