Invaded By Mexicans

Yesterday, I managed to go twenty-four hours without internet. By the end of the day my hands were shaking and I needed a drink, a strong drink. Each day this week the painting crew arrived at 7:30 am and took over the house. On day one they did the guest room, a spare bedroom, and two bathrooms. They also prepped the next day of work; the sun room, our master bedroom-bathroom, and my office. On day 2 they painted those rooms, and began the great room prep. Day 3 began with five men taking over the largest area of the house, the great room, and prep for the kitchen. Preparation means taping woodwork, spreading drop cloths, moving furniture, covering furniture with plastic, and scrapping bumps and loose paint from gnarly areas of the walls. Split drywall joints are dug out, new tape is applied, and covered with mud. When the drywall plaster is dried the painting begins. To speed things up the army installs several huge fans around the house to blow high-speed air at the moist plaster and pre-painted spots.

The five men, Jose, Carlos, Francisco, Miguel, and Julio work as a team without instruction nor any hint of dissension or animosity toward one another. The age of the army ranges from twenty-two to forty. Most of the men have worked for Mike’s Painting and Decorating from five to twelve years. One thing they have in common is Spanish as a language. The entire crew is Mexican. At least three of them came to America when they were toddlers or grammar school kids. I watched one man mixing mud for the joints. He saw me watching him, so I teased him “I want to learn your job so I can take it.” He smiled heartily, and said, “I teach to you.”

All of them are extremely polite and conscious of the effect they have on the customer. What effect could they possibly have? Try watching your castle being taken over, and trashed with ugly drop cloths, plastic sheeting, paint buckets, sanding blocks, green tape, blue tape, white tape, masking tape, splotches of plaster, trails of fine white dust, rollers, brushes, poles, and tool boxes with more of the same.

I am glad we took on this adventure, but now that Peg and I have been through it I will never do it again. It has been one week of total life style interruption, and seniors like everything to stay on a smooth path. Little things like where is my pill-box? How will we make lunch? The stove, microwave, and refrigerator are swathed in plastic. Which bathroom is available? I don’t want to know how many years of bad luck I will have after walking under ladders because it was the only free path from A to B.

The house looks great. It is even better than I expected. The colors I chose work well with our floors, carpets, tile, and furniture. The accents are subtle and when I look at the walls I ask myself if the walls are truly different in color. Lighting makes a big difference on what colors I see.

The biggest disappointment happened when  we discovered the dry-rotted sill plate and rafters next to the living room window. That room remains unfinished until I have the structural damage repaired, the wood treated with a fungiicide, and the drywall replaced. Thankfully, the damage is the same as a dented fender on a car, and not damage from a head on collision with a semi.

The next big job is cleaning the entire house, then replacing the pictures and mementos  that I scattered throughout the basement and the spare bedrooms.

I need a drink. Peg and I will enjoy a simple supper at a restaurant tonight, and I might even imbibe a martini.

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And then there is this. . . .

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Crumbling Wall From RLBW



Today, I got my internet back. I’ve fasted from I-net for several days now waiting for the Cable Guy to come and hook me up. I went into shock last Sunday night when I finally called the 24 hour hotline for help. The sweet young thing assigned to solve my problem checked out their end and learned it was solid. Her reply to me was “we have to send a technician to fix the problem the first appointment opportunity is Wednesday.”


Crash, as I dropped to the floor. “You mean I won’t have a fix until Wednesday?”

“I’m sorry sir, but that is the best we can do.”

Let me go back to the beginning. When Peg and I arrived home all of our TV’s were pixilated. We didn’t get clear high-resolution pictures we got pixels of enormous proportions. I solved the problem by killing the power to each TV that had a cable box on it. It is the same as re-booting a computer. After the TV’s I began reading my e-mails and my PC acted funny. After suffering with it for a while I decided to reset the machine. First, I shut the PC down. That didn’t work, so I shut down the PC and then the modem. That didn’t work so I shut down the PC, the modem, and the router. After starting everything back up the I-net was gone. Run diagnostics and get it fixed I told myself. After three hours of messing with the process I yielded to the hotline.

I had the yellow wire in the yellow socket and the white wire in the orange socket.

I had the yellow wire in the yellow socket and the white wire in the orange socket. It made sense to me.

Today, Larry the Cable Guy dropped by. He looked at the modem and everything was green. He looked at the router, picked it up and unplugged the wires. A few seconds later he re-plugged the wires and within ten seconds the I-net was back and running. “Wait a minute, what did you do?”

“The wires were crossed and I put them back into the correct sockets.”

“Oh sheet, I had done the same thing when I was resetting and I crossed them when I plugged them back in.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you sir?”

“Yes, do not breathe a word about this matter to anyone.”

Cable Guy left within fifteen minutes after assuring himself that our TV’s were working.

I remembered a story from college. The professor who told it was an old guy like me now. His commission was to teach a class full of Mechanical Engineers something about electric motors. The story was about when he was young and got a call to consult on a large electric motor that the owner could not get started. He arrived, looked at the motor and asked the owner to get him a hammer. While he went to get the hammer, the Teacher switched two wires. The man comes back and hands him the hammer. The teacher hits the motor with the hammer and says, “Now try it.” The owner pushes the start button and the motor starts right up. A week later the owner gets a bill for a thousand dollars. In shock over the cost, the owner calls the teacher and asks him to itemize the bill so he can understand the charges. The teacher sends him the itemized bill: 1. Service call to check the motor and hit it with a hammer $300. 2. Knowing where to hit it $700.

Today, the cable guy had the knowledge and I didn’t.