Now, I’m no professional lender, loan shark, or gambling addict but I do know that if you owe someone money, and you don’t pay them they are likely to be pissed. Moreover, if you try to duck them they will come looking for you. So, when one of my jobs fell through and I wouldn’t be paid in time for the end of the month I knew that I had a problem. And if I hid from McLandlord, I’d have two problems. It’s bad enough not being able to pay rent but to have a pissed off Irishman looking for you is bad news on any day that isn’t St Patty’s.
I found my balls and called to give the head’s up about my situation and hoped that he was feeling charitable enough to wait until I got more work in a few weeks.
“Nie a problem” he says “I needa fence ovar at me old hoose, if you build er fer me. I ken forgive tha rent this month an yew can git back on yer feet fer nex month.”
I made arrangements to go to McLandlord’s house the following week. When I got there I found a small pile of lumber and a large pile of McLandlord’s nephew. We’ll have to change the name of this guy for this story but we will not be calling him McNephew, he will be called McUseless.
McLandlord came out of the house when he saw I was there and introduced me to his nephew.
“This ‘ere is McUseless; he’s my sisters lad an e’ll be helping yew today”
After going over the lot lines, McLandlord excused himself and drove off about his business. I started laying out the postholes and instructed McUseless to follow behind me and start the digging. Needless to say they don’t call him McUseless because of his ever increasing competency. I had to show him how to start the auger, how to use the throttle, how to drill straight down. After 45 minutes he was done exactly one and a half holes.
I took over the auger job and asked him to unbundle the lumber and put one post at each hole so that we could get started. To my surprise, by the time I had finished the other 23 holes (one hour later), he had managed to put 1 fence board at each hole. After getting the posts myself, I decided to alleviate him of any important jobs; it was time for him to mix concrete. In a wheelbarrow, I showed him how to put in one pail of water and two bags of cement and mix it up. I took the mixed concrete in two buckets and started to level the first post. After getting it set and levelled, I went to refill my concrete to find that none had been mixed up. It turns out that as I was toiling, the clock struck 10 ‘clock and McUseless left for his coffee break.
I was able to mix three more batches and level as many posts by the time he got back and the jerk didn’t even bring me a coffee. He figured if I wanted one I should have asked.
The rest of the day went on in this fashion. Build some fence, baby-sit. Build some fence, baby-sit. I had a great idea at about 3pm when McUseless still couldn’t figure out which ticky on the tape measure to use and I sent him for coffee. He came back with a coffee, drank it, and told me he was going to school to be an engineer. I asked “like at the front of a train?”
“No, the kind that tells peoples how to build stuff. I want to be a structural engineer.”
Holy crap! If this guy graduates I’d quit and find a job as a shit-shoveler. If the people who built some of our most famous structures — the empire state building, the CN tower, the Brooklyn bridge — had the same work ethic as him they’d still be unfinished and the breaking ground would fit in Tim Horton’s cups.
“It’s almost 4 pm,” McUseless declared without glancing at his watch, “may as well call it quits for the day,” With that he got in his Pontiac Sunfire and drove off. I looked at the two sections of fence we had built. I looked at all my tools scattered about the lawn. I looked at my own watch that said 3:23.
I was a long slog but I got that fence finished at about 8 that night. As I was fastening the last few boards, McLandlord appeared.
“I ‘ve been home since lunch and me an the missus ‘ave never laughed so ard watchen you put up with me nephew. Sorry fer putting you through that crap but I wasn’t about to ave him follow me round all day. Go home and consider yer rent settled”
So I really just was the baby sitter. I wonder if McLandlord even wanted a fence. Oh well, I got the rest of the week off, rent was paid up, and when McUseless asked for my phone number (to hang out with him sometime) I gave him my ex girlfriend’s number. That should even a few scores.