When all else fails…Blame Earl!
We have a neighbor named Earl. (Actually, Earl is not his name. I believe in protecting the privacy of every individual…even Earl.) Earl is, in fact, a perfectly nice guy. However, he’s taken on the role of Ultimate Schlemiel to our family! To explain, I have to take you back to when we moved to the farm.
We found the reason toast always lands jelly side down!
There were some interesting architectural details in our farmhouse. Things like:
- Whopper-jaw door and window trim
- Four inch gaps in the baseboards
- Ceramic floor tile with tricky cuts, that had been skipped rather than attempted.
- Doors and windows that were more rhombus, than rectangle
- Random patches of texture-less wall
- An attic pull-down hatch smack-dab in the middle of the upstairs landing
Since Liam and I hadn’t replaced our power tools since our
sojourn in the land of RV living, we decided to hire someone. I phoned the local hardware/feed store and asked for names. They reccomended…Earl.
“Yes, ma’am! That’s just the kinda job he does. Better yet, he works pretty cheap and he lives just a mile-or-so from y’all!” (‘Mile-or-so’ is a common unit of measurement in our area.) I called Earl. He came by, and I showed him what I wanted done. We agreed on a price, and he agreed to start Monday.
Sleeping for work was challenging Monday. I’m a day sleeper. So, there were bangs, saws, and thuds echoing through the house. I just smiled, thinking how nice things would look when Earl was done. However, when I woke my dreams of being Joanna Gaines received their first check. Nothing had changed!
Me: I thought you were starting with the trim in here.
Earl: That’s right. I did those first.
Me: Ummm…Maybe it’s just me, but they still look crooked.
Earl: Nah. They’re straight ’nuff.
Me: Maybe it is just me. Where’s your level, and I’ll just double-check? I’m sure you’re right, but it’ll make me feel better.
Earl: LEVEL?!? You mean like uh bubble level?—(I don’t now how to convey the incredulous tone or the impression that a bubble level was the rarest species in East Texas.)
Me: You didn’t bring a level?!? Okay…..well, I’ll just get ours from the shop.
Earl: Ya wanna check door trim with uh level. I guess I prolly got one in the truck. —(Insert the I’m not patient enough to deal with WOMEN eye-roll and ‘phew’ noise here.)
I should have realized there was a larger issue than catty-whompus door trim, but I thought clear instructions would improve things. In fact, after a day of chuckles and eye-rolls at my finickiness, the downstairs trim was finally level(-ish).
(Okay, I fixed two doors about a month later. The trim was actually pretty close, but by then it had become a “THING” and I might have been obsessing just a little.)
Next, I asked that our master bath, which was half-trimmed/half-naked be fully dressed. This was done the next day. So determined was Earl to exceed my outrageously high expectations, that he trimmed, caulked, and re-textured that bathroom to within an inch of its life! From the towel rack to the light fixture, if it was on the wall he trimmed and caulked it! And…the texture! OH, the texture!
There was texture on the mirror, the hand towel, the roll of loo paper, my shampoo bottle, the bar soap, and in the sink! There were drips of texture on Liam’s bathrobe. I didn’t even know texture could drip! Since we weren’t expecting him to texture, much less to apply texture with a hand-grenade, we hadn’t emptied the bathroom!
Okay, big breath! One. More. Try. The man is, after all, a neighbor. So, we discussed pantry shelves. I was very specific about what I wanted. Earl seemed to understand the measurements and suggested building them in the style of old general store shelves. He also suggested a hinged framed pegboard over the fuse box. This is terrific! I can hang my lighter pots and pans, but can still flip the breaker if someone runs the toaster and microwave at the same time! Way to save the dead space, Earl!
Awesome! Perfect! Can’t wait! What could go wrong? No, seriously, what can go wrong?!? What was I not clear enough about!?! I stood in the pantry trying to think of what might be obvious to me, but would be ‘bubble-level-on-the-door-trim’ confusing to Earl. The only thing I could think of was the space for the deep freeze. The pantry had a space set up for an upright deep freeze with an electrical socket and everything.
In an effort to cover all bases, I wrote Earl a note. It said, “Please don’t put shelves beside the fridge. The deep freeze goes there. Thank you!” I stood his four foot ladder in the deep freeze’s spot and taped the note to it with duct tape.
I woke the next day and headed to the pantry to check out my shelves. The shelves were beautiful and perfect! They really do look like something from an old general store! I think Earl surpassed himself in artistry and design. He even…built the shelves…where the freezer was supposed to go! Whomp-whomp!
“Um, Earl, they look great! Well, except, these are where the freezer is supposed to go. I was afraid it might be confusing, so I left a note stuck to your ladder. Maybe the note fell off and you missed it?”
“Naw, I saw thuh paper. But, ‘itus’ wrote in cursive an’ I never lernt’at.”
“Um, Earl, Jonah can read cursive and he was here. You could’ve asked him.”
“Nah. I just got on with tha job.”
Well, okay then.
I gave Earl a few more jobs with really clear instructions (and supervision). At the end of the week, he happily moved on to his next job. I called our realtor and asked if he knew a handyman. I explained that someone near us had been reccomended and done some work, but he had another job.
The realtor gave a deep chuckle and said, “Oh! That musta been Earl. You know he helped with some carpentry and trim when they built your house. That boy never could figure out the reason for a bubble level! Heck, he’s probably the reason y’all need a carpenter now!”
So…Crooked trim?-Blame Earl Messy paint?-Blame Earl No freezer space?–Blame Earl Heavily textured bathrobe?-Blame Earl High gas prices?-Blame Earl Stuck in traffic?-Blame Earl Global warming?-Blame Earl
At our house, when in doubt, we blame Earl! Then, we smile. Because, basically, he really is nice good’ol’boy kinda guy.
Leave me a comment below, if you get the chance! I’ve missed you guys!
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