Saturday, February 21, 1987
Ralph has bought an old house that isn't bolted to the foundation. My job: bolt it. In the basement I count 17 spots where the mud sill should be attached to the perimeter foundation. I'll have to drill 17 holes for the anchor bolts, each hole a half inch in diameter and 5 inches deep through concrete.
For this job, I need a rotary hammer drill. I could rent one - as I've done before - or I could buy one as an investment in future work. Cash is a little tight. How often will I be called to bolt a foundation? Aren't most of them already bolted by now?
As I'm thinking, squatting on my heels in the basement, shining a flashlight on the mud sill, I'm aware that just outside the vent screen little chips of ice are bouncing on the ground. It's a sudden hail storm. And then it happens...
A blinding flash. The entire basement is alight. I feel a tingling on the soles of my feet inside my work boots. At the same time there is a deafening clap of thunder, so close and so sudden that it must have been right over the house.
Seconds later, Ralph throws open the basement door. "Holy shit!" he says. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Did it hit the house?"
"No, but it must've come close."
"I'm going out. I just got a message from above. I think I'm supposed to buy a rotary hammer drill."
Ralph shakes his head. "I'd hate to see what happens when you need to make a really important decision."
"It's usually quieter."
I go to Tooland in San Carlos and pay $250 for a Makita Rotary Hammer HR1821. I return to Ralph's basement and - wow! - it's like drilling through butter. I charge Ralph $200 for labor, so I'm out $50 for the day but I've got a great tool.
Let's jump forward...
Today is February 21, 2011. For the last 24 years I've worked the crap out of that Makita - Old Mattie - earning her worth many times over. The lightning bolt was right.
Just a week ago I was using Old Mattie when the head jammed, frozen. All those years eating concrete grit, and now she needs a new SDS chuck.
Those chucks are expensive. Should I make the repair? Which grimy old part will wear out next? Isn't it time to buy a whole new drill? I'm 63 years old. Will I stay alive - and active - for another 24 years?
I'll wait for a message.