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Friday, Dec. 14, 2001
As the last frantic days of work on the Taiwanese Restaurant whip by, Stu and I have no trouble finding ways of entertaining ourselves on the job.

They call it a Mongolian Barbecue, which, by reason of living in the South, I have a problem summoning up a clear image of. I mean, do they take a steer or a pig with the oriental sort of eye and toss it in a 200 gallon black drum with a smokestack on it or what? And what about the aprons and the funny hats?

Yesterday some of the Mongols appeared to check things out. The place is far enough along for them to understand where they will serve, how they will cook, etc. Two of them, in particular, seemed far more interested in the doings of Outfoxed as he raced through the cutting of baseboard and trim on his mighty chop saw.

Understand, the chop saw becomes the centerpiece of whatever job we happen to set it up on. It is a sliding compound affair with a long support stand that takes up a fair amount of room, and I generally get to be the one using it. The one known as the ‘cut man’, because, well, you cut with it. Stu or one of the boys scrambles around nailing the trim, another right on his heels filling in the nail holes with putty. But the pressure is on the cut man to keep up, to drive the train as it were. I was sawing like a madman.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the Mongols approach, quite closely in fact, and peer over my shoulder as I worked. Knowing that none of them spoke a word of English I couldn’t very well ask him to bug off, as that might be misconstrued as a suggestion for one of the mystery lunches they are getting ready to serve. For all I know.

Next, they began rummaging around in the big trash cart for scraps of wood. I was tossing them in there all the while, getting dangerously close to pinging them in the head as I did so. Long minutes they spent, with much conversation in their own language, inspecting and fondling the chunks, diagramming something with fingers in the air.

Having a particularly long piece in hand, I walked away from the saw to carry it to the guys doing the nailing. And heard what I hope to never hear on a cut job.

The sound of my saw coming on, and not by my own hand.

I whirled around and sure enough, the Mongols were cutting small pieces into infinitely smaller ones.

“Hey. HEY!! No no no!! Away from the saw, ye heathen horde! Git off!

I mean, aside from the safety issue, nobody touches the saw once I get started on it. I think there’s a legal ruling involved somewhere. Probably in the Outfoxed Book of Construction Etiquette.

And language barriers aside, they understood pretty clearly what I was saying. Particularly when I made the shooing motions. They talked excitedly with each other (I’m not going to use the word jabbering, I’m not) and apparently came to a decision. Taking the pieces of wood in hand, they placed it on the saw stand and looked at me expectantly, making sawing motions with their hand. Okay, yes. I’ll do the cutting for you, not a problem.

Once they had their little squares prepared, they scurried off to where Stu stood holding nail gun in hand. A similar skit occurred, but this time they pantomimed shooting motions with hands. Stu shifted the cigar from one side of mouth to the other and considered the ceiling with a fair amount of interest.

They emerged triumphantly with a little nailed together box. Went directly to the scrap bin again to await the tossing of more material, which I obliged them with periodically. Each tossed piece received the same scrutiny of a fine bottle of wine.

An hour later, the committee of Mongol builders approached the saw for the final time. Two pieces of 1 x 6, about a foot long, they desired. I was beginning to feel like the guy at Home Depot who cuts plywood for the homeowners on any given Saturday.

Now here’s the good part, and by this time we were all watching expectantly, trying to figure out what sort of end result this project could possibly have. They place the nailed together box on the floor, laid the 1 x 6 pieces side by side on top of it, and stepped back to admire. They had built, essentially, a tiny little Mongol coffee table about 10” tall. Or at least that’s what we thought. Until one of them solemnly lowered himself and sat on it.

Stu strolled over to the tool chest and pulled out a drill and a large hole saw. When queried as to his intent, he merely shrugged and jerked his head at the still sitting Buddha.

“Well, hell, if he wants to build himself an outhouse seat, we might as well go all the way…..”

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