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Wednesday, Nov. 06, 2002
Eh, dear me. So much time goes by so quickly. So much work to do, is it any wonder I’m dreaming up ways to lure you guys off the internet and into gainful employment as a grumpy carpenter’s helper? With a rainy day and some time on my hands, here’s the results of the Work for Outfoxed! contest from the previous entry, with the correct answers given first of all.

1. You’re asked to nail two pieces of 2 x 4 together. The fastener you would most likely use is:

c)One of Stu’s petrified stogies from the back of the truck. (This ought to be obvious, it is the one thing we have more than enough of, and they’re easy to work with and rarely bend when hammered into wood. Yeah, I know that a 2¾” framing nail is right for the task, but you have to put yourself in my shoes . . .)

2. It’s 5 am, time to go to work. Do you:

b)fill a cooler with beer and ice and snacks. (I mean after all, we don’t eat lunch. Most of our helpers realize this when 1 pm has come and gone and we’re still blasting away. Besides, it shows good planning skills)

3. Stu hits his thumb with the hammer. Should you:

d)dramatically, and with many gestures, repeat the mishap for weeks to come for the Watering Hole regulars. (Oh yeah. No doubt about it. The fact that you might be rolling on the ground laughing when it actually happened goes without saying. This also displays proper protocol when dealing with the inevitable end of day question, “So what did you guys do today?”)

4. You’re given $20 to go buy gas for the generator. Most likely, you would:

b)spend $6 on gas and the rest on beer. (See aforementioned planning skills mentioned in question 2)

Special bonus question. Use three ordinary words to best describe your current job and why you think working for Outfoxed would be the better deal.

Now, a lot of you read this as “describe your current job” in three words and stopped there. Probably what we were looking for was something along the lines of “Loathe, Change, Love” or “Carpenters Kick Ass!”. But I have to give special meritorious credits to Bingoguy for his effort: Four Bucks Sucks. Now that’s brevity! And creative as hell!

Based on the answers, our special winner is Sixweasels, having gotten 3 out of the 4 questions right, even though she blew the extra credit.

Congratulations Pam! Your work boots and toolbelt will be mailed out soon. I’m a little leery about picking up your bar tab but hey, if my Pop owned a bar you would be too!


Roadiepig has worked for the government far, far too long.
Bingoguy must make more than $4 an hour. Lucky dude.
Waterlu is too nice to be working with the likes of us. She had all the answers that an employer would like to see (‘cept that one about the nails, darlin!) and she needs a gig, and now I’m feeling all guilty . . .
Michele had a lot of the right answers too, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of her Bonus Question. Maybe that was on purpose. Heh.

Next time I’ll make this an easier, if not more technically savvy thing. Y’all are too cool.

We drive to work along a bridge/tunnel affair that is 22 miles long. It crosses the entire span of Chesapeake Bay that separates our homes from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Three things inevitably cross my mind when driving this two tunnel, three bridge monster.

1. I just spent $10 in tolls to drive my truck a distance that is equal to six trips to the Watering Hole. There is enequity here, somewhere.

2. Am I in the first or the second tunnel now?

3. My God, that sunrise makes this all worthwhile. And those dolphin are a nice touch.

There’s a long stretch of road on the Shore that is enlivened only by the anticipation of another farmer’s field. There are dozens of them, this is primarily an agricultural landscape we pass through. They call it “The Eastern Shore, What America Used to Be” and that tagline holds special charms for us. Especially for Stu, who normally sits silent in the passenger seat at 6:00 am and observes the world flashing by through eyes half closed. Then yesterday, he grunted and jabbed a beefy forefinger at a particular field.

“Deer,” he said.

Sure enough, thirty whitetails stood with heads burrowed into a farmers’ latest crop, which was unidentifiable with a fog hanging six inches above the ground. The big buck had brought the whole herd down to feed, with sunrise turning the woods behind him into a pink Stonehenge of vertical finger trees. Brown wraiths of flesh stood as the America That Is rushed by on the highway a scant fifty yards away.

I wanted nothing more than to stop, creep quietly into the field and sit on its edge, in hiding, to see what they would do next. Maybe hold up a hand in a silent wave as they filed past, these sentinels of a past age when America was empty and there were no rumblings from the nearby road, when they didn’t have to adapt and adjust.

Further down the highway, another grunt and wave.

“Turkey,” this time.

A dozen Tom’s strutted stiffly along a dirt path. In plain sight, which is rare in any setting, but these seemed especially bold in their morning outing.

I like the eagle, with his fierceness and representation of all that is proud in America, but the turkey needs some credit. Hiding, aloof, noted only for their function as a palatable entrée on a day in November.

They looked awfully much like the free and proud bird that they are, greeting us to the Shore.

Drivers of pickup trucks who wave at like kind. That curious little lift of the hand from the steering wheel. That casual but oh-so-reliable acknowledgment.

Houses left to the elements, a front porch sagging and a roof nearly fallen in. Elegant in their day, abandoned and having weeds gone wild in the yard. Perhaps a barn out back, gray, and without a door. I want to stop and look, set feet to the porch of the house, put to right in my mind the farmer or merchant that lived here, long ago. When the America That Was really was, or really could be.

Billboards without apology. “Seafood – one mile!” and a picture of a crab with large claws or flounder with exaggerated belly. A mile goes by and a low riding, one story white shack, with many handbuilt additions and roofs of differing materials. Two pickup trucks outside, an oyster shell parking lot. Smoke from a tin stack. A warping screen door. “Best fresh fish on the Shore!” Their signs may be excited, but the owners assuredly are not. It is, after all, just fish, and just another day, where the takers of fish are concerned. A dollar more or less. We will eat tonight, and so will you, with our fish helping you along the way.

A big brick church. Many cars outside, for this morning drive, and it makes me curious. Why? And it dawns on me that this is an unheralded prayer breakfast for the men. To sit and slowly swipe egg yolk from the plate with a biscuit and be steeped in the company of others, the others who you see every day in this smallest of towns. To pray with the others, to feel warmth and the feeling that yes, you are doing something worthwhile. Pray for rain, for the crops, pray for the sick, the child at home. It can’t do any harm.

To most of all stand and listen to the silence. There is a lot of that on the Shore. It fills and vacuums the ear, it rushes by with a wind that comes from the Bay, and the wind makes a sound, but it is not the sound of haste and hurry and things made by man. You can stand on a land between waters, and feel lonely, and taste wind on your face. See what deer see, crunch crops beneath feet shod with boots of leather and rubber. Walk the land, see clouds with rain and know what they are useful for.

Be sure – there is an America. I can feel it, this small part of it. I work in it and it is good.

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