What’s in a Name?

There was construction going on in a building on my walk to work this morning. The scaffolding was full of workers on several levels, wearing tool belts, yellow fluorescent vests and white hard hats. Two guys were leaning against a parked car, smoking, and watching the work being done. Obviously the crew foremen.

“Hey, Jesus, what country are you from?” one of them said.

Jesus turned around to face them. “What country? From the United States,” he said in perfect English.

I laughed out loud. 

The guy who asked the question clearly expected Jesus to say, “Mexico.” But he didn’t.  That showed him.

Stereotypes don’t work anymore.

For example, when I see a doctor. They’re from all over the world. Their last names are Carlson or Rodriguez or Ngo, but they’re Americans now. In fact, Carlson might be the real foreigner in the group.

The truth is most of us are immigrants. Scratch the family history and you’ll uncover Aunt Sophie came from Bavaria, Germany by way of her mother’s womb, and Uncle Basil skied into Austria from Budapest when the communists took over, and then boarded a ship to Ellis Island where they changed his name to Bertie.

If we want genuine, 100 percent American heritage, we’ll have to look at England first, or the American Indians.

Calvin says, “It’s true in the dog world, too. You can’t trust a beagle with the name of Waffles.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Sea Crossing

It’s been pouring for days. It’s my kind of weather except when it impacts the toilets in my house. That’s where I draw the line. The toilets, the shower, the bathtub and the garage sink went on strike all at once and filled up with water. Grey, dirty water.

That required immediate emergency measures. I called two plumbers who were asleep and couldn’t be bothered with my plight. It was Sunday after all, the day of rest, and crises would have to wait. The third plumber responded and came over in 45 minutes. Meanwhile Alf was filling buckets of water from the shower and dumping them in the backyard. I was pacing the kitchen trying to stay calm. The rain continued. Calvin was on guard with nose quivering.fullsizerender-23

Finally Juan showed up in an unmarked truck. That sent alarm bells off in my head. Calvin began howling. He introduced himself and smiled with a mouthful of braces and spoke in faltering English. The alarm bells were getting louder. Calvin was grunting. Juan unscrewed the cap to the main pipe to the house and a volcano of water erupted flooding the front lawn. I was convinced we had called a hack and I was ready to phone another plumber, and then the police, if I could find either who wasn’t taking a nap. Calvin was hissing and booing at Juan.

Alf decided to go with it. Juan pulled out a snake and a camera from his truck and did a diagnostic. Sure enough the roots of our bushes were strangling the outflow from the pipe and would need to be replaced. Juan called two buddies who appeared too quickly – were they waiting around the corner? – which confirmed we had hired a gang of thugs to fix our plumbing. This was not looking good. Calvin agreed. He was showing his pearly whites and howling.

The gang worked all day digging and snaking and digging some more. Calvin snarled along with them from the kitchen. The guys took a break to get tacos. We asked where they went and now we have a recommendation for a neighborhood taqueria. Calvin got a gleam in his eye.

The gang continued with the dig. It felt like an archaeological excavation in my front lawn. The chewed up pipe was finally unearthed, and I began to calm down. Maybe these guys knew their job after all. Calvin, exhausted from his protective detail, had curled up in his bed and gone to sleep.

By the end of the day the plumbers had unplugged the back-up, got the water flowing again, and I had my toilets back. They said they’d come back the next day to install the new pipe and eat more tacos.

Calvin says, “I’ve earned at least a dozen tacos. Let’s go!” beagle

 

 

 

It’s Not All Bad

After 30 years in the same house, Alf and I finally decided to take the plunge.

We’re remodeling our kitchen.

We’ve heard horror stories from many people, but what are you going to do? Believe everything you hear?

We began by asking several friends who they recommended and we called them. One was too busy. Another didn’t want the job because we were too far away. A third came by, looked at the kitchen, grunted and left.

Alf and I wondered if it was us. cows

Were we wearing a sign that said, “Perfectionists” across our chests?

Not really. There’s a remodeling boom going on in our neighborhood and all the good contractors are tied up.

So we asked our real estate agent, the one we would use if we were to sell, who she liked and she immediately came back with a name.

We called him and John came over.

“Piece of cake, I can have this done in a week,” he said.

Oh wow, how wonderful. Alf and I sighed with relief.

John gave us a contract and we noticed it said two months from start to completion.

We asked him why. “Oh that’s just a standard contract. In your case, a week,” he repeated.

Relieved we signed the paper.

A day later John showed up in his truck, a trailer and two workers, Fernando and Gustavo. By the end of the morning, Fernando and Gustavo had demolished the kitchen, thrown the debris in the trailer, and were dispatched to the dump.

Alf and I now stood looking at each other in a large, empty, dusty room. The only thing still alive was the refrigerator.

The next day John went to the cabinet maker to order the cabinets. Since they were pre-fab and in stock, he expected to come back to our house with them.

Nope.

There was a three week wait list for assembly.

Three weeks?

“Everybody’s updating their kitchens,” was the cabinet maker’s response.

So now Alf and I have three weeks of waiting with a ticking refrigerator in a gutted kitchen. And that’s just week #1.

Calvin says, “It’s not all bad, at least you can eat ice cream.” beagle