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Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of Sunday mornings. When you can sit in your sweat pants and a hockey jersey and try to conjure up words fit for sharing.

I kinda wonder about the hockey jersey though. I spied it on the high shelf in my closet this morning and it seemed to be the perfect thing to wear. And if you had my sense of fashion, you’d probably agree. Though coming from someone who considers Carhardts to be a stunning wardrobe addition, I doubt there’d be many takers.

Anyway, I’m at a loss for material here. Just to confirm what you already knew.

Yesterday, for whatever reason, Stu decided it was imperative that we go a-working. He gets that way sometimes, like work is a drug and to not take a hit off it would be an immoral action. So I picked him up at his place and we headed north to the Shore.

They have this lighted sign on the Bay Bridge Tunnel when the wind is gusting that says CAUTION: WIND AHEAD. I guess they turn it on to warn the truck drivers or something because yep, that wind ahead was certainly a caution. We were sluicing all over the road and I kept giving Stu a sidelong glance, wondering if he noticed or if the after effects of Friday nights pool tournament was keeping him pleasantly numb.

Or, more to the point, if he remembered just exactly where it was we were going to work. A hundred yards from the Bay where WIND AHEAD really meant WIND RIGHT THE HELL HERE.

Did I mention it was about 30 degrees yesterday morning?

Or that we were going to work outdoors?

In that careful way that I have for analyzing data, I deducted that 50-mph winds coupled with 30-degree temperatures meant that I was not going to be having a problem with sweat soaked T-shirts. We disembarked from the nice warm truck and I felt the first gust rip thru my left ear, bore a hole through my skull and come whistling out of the right.

“Touch of the nip in the air this morning,” Stu offered as he casually zipped his field jacket and watched me flail around trying to simultaneously yank my hooded sweatshirt over my hat, put on gloves and run to the lee side of the truck. “Just smell that salt air!”

I chose not to groan. “If I stay outside in this wind I’m not sure I’ll ever smell anything ever again. What on earth are we doing out here? There isn’t another contractor on this whole site! Reckon they know something we don’t?” There was a little bit of the whine coming to my voice, I suppose.

“Nah. They’re just not as dedicated as we are.”

Dedicated or not, I swung open the rear hatch on the truck and leaned in to start the tool unloading. “Uh oh, we left the air hose back at the shop. It’s gonna be real tough to shoot nails without any air hose.”

(This being the point where some edification is required, let me just say that we shoot nails from a nail gun, the nail guns connected to the air hose, the air hose connected to the compressor, the compressor’s connected to the generator, which is connected to our wallets now Hear the Word of the Lord. . . .)

“Well shucks, we don’t need it for this little bit of stuff. Let’s just hammer ‘em in.” Stu was being just as creative with reasons to keep on working as I was in trying to invent negatives.

The ‘little bit of stuff’ happened to be replacing four fence panels which the landscaper had removed to make more convenient his fixing of a botched landscape. His problem, our repair. Do we get paid for this little exercise? Not likely, it goes into the books as helping out our fellow man or some such nonsense.

“Oh for crying out loud. The lunatic left the concrete in the holes.” In pulling the fence panels out, as well as the posts that supported them, the landscaper had managed to leave the concrete intact where once the posts had stood. Not a good thing when you have to essentially put the posts back in the same holes. Makes the going a bit tough, it does.

Stu leaned into the wind undeterred. “I’ll get the rod, we’ll get that stuff outta there, don’t you worry.”

The ‘rod’ in this case is a 6-foot long piece of steel with a pointed end. It does come in handy for prying hardened chunks of concrete from the ground but at the time I was considering jabbing Stu with the business end of it. Frequently, and with great vigor.

We ran a string line and measured and cranked up the gas auger and set the first two panels and all was going according to plan until Stu took a few steps back for the all-important sighting of the fence. You know, to see if it was actually straight.

“Holy smokes, it’s crooked as my pool cue. Better yank ‘em out and start over.” He had that tone of happy dwarf at work in his voice, and it was very clear, even if he had to shout to be heard over the gale force wind.

Which made it decidedly easier for me to mutter oaths and threats without being heard, I suppose.

Four miserable hours later the deed was done and no truck has ever been packed with tools faster. I had the motor running and the heater on even before I slammed the lid shut and prepared to screech down the road. Stu leisurely surveyed the fence, shucked off his jacket and eased inside while I writhed with impatience.

He set a cigar on fire and observed, “In a bit of a hurry, are we?”

I was in no mood to be petulant or sarcastic but I guess it came out that way. “Oh no, no, driving two hours to stand out in here in Anarctica and roll around in the dirt and fix somebody else’s’ screw up always puts me in a bit of a rush. I mean, as opposed to sitting at the Watering Hole and watching the game on TV and complaining about the heat coming from the ceiling. That makes me positively languid. I’m in no hurry at all. It’s the wind pushing the truck down the road. It’s the wind, I tell ye.” I was babbling as fast as my chattering teeth would allow.

He tapped the cigar on the ashtray and carefully trimmed the end. “Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll bet we can get the cook to roust us up some breakfast, even. Some nice eggs and a bowl of grits. To the Hole, my good man. First round’s on me.”

It speaks volumes for our Corporate Philosophy that I managed not to scream too much.

And after all, it wasn’t raining.

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