Thursday, January 6, 2011

365 Jobs, Day 6 -- Funky Muck

Cross-posted from my new blog, 365 Jobs:

Tuesday, January 6, 1987

Mama said there'd be days like this…

Rainy, almost freezing.  I creep among mushrooms pushing forward with my elbows and the tips of my boots.  I'm a worm.  Sixteen inches separate floor joists from muck.  Spiders stare at me with multiple eyes.  There's the smell of rot, the suck of mud.  I ooze through the crawlspace wearing a headlight like a miner, wrenches clanking, my breath puffing clouds in the beam.  

The hours pass in funky muck.  At last the job is done, pipes replaced.  I peel off my crawlsuit and am just ready to start the truck when the tenant arrives, an acupuncturist.  She steps in her cabin and screams.  A pipe has burst in the kitchen.  A flood.  I've got to deal with it - quickly.

In the end it's a nine hour day.  I'm soaked, slopped, chilled - and rattled.  The broken pipe was a coincidence, not my fault, but it makes me look stupid.  Next door I find Toby, the cabin's owner, in his basement editing film.  He makes documentary movies.  For pay he gets to trek in the wilderness filming antelopes, waterfalls, spectacular canyons and rivers.  Upstairs I hear his wife, a singer, doing voice exercises, lovely.  She'd be embarrassed if she knew I could hear.

"You okay?" he asks.  "You look literally like shit."  He sniffs.  "Kinda smell like it, too."

"I want to go home and take a hot bath."

He writes a check.

I ask, "What are you working on now?"

"It's for PBS."  He grins.  "It's about appreciating water."

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