Characters Along the Way

“Jim Class” is a feature that airs within The HomeFix Show. Writen by original charter show listener Jim Forrer from Caldwell Idaho, Jim shares his observations, life experiances, and lessons learned in life. Joe Prin reads these at various times in most of the HomeFix Shows. Here is the original written text.

Some of the jobs that I have done were very unusual. Not the job itself, but rather the customer. Examples follow:

#1   One particular gentleman had called the wholesaler for the specs on all hardware and fabric for chain-link fence that I was to install.  As soon as I had drilled the post holes, he was out there measuring the spacing.  He questioned why some were only 8 ft. apart instead of 10 ft.  I told him, that line is 64 ft. long and to make it evenly spaced I laid them out on 8 ft. on center.  Then when I was hand mixing the concrete, he counted each shovel of sand, aggregate and Portland to make sure it fell in line with a 5 bag mix.  After the posts were set, he pulled out his micrometer and measured the tubing’s OD, ID and wall thickness.  He did the same measuring the fabric for proper gauge.  He paid in cash and when I left, I was still laughing.

#2    Another gentleman kept calling me back after I had completed his 5 ft. chain-link.  He had specified the want of a 12 ft. single leaf driveway gate.  I tried to talk him into a double drive, but he told me that I just wanted to charge more money.  The drive sloped down toward the house, which gave no anchor point for the gate to rest on when open.  This man would always leave the gate hanging open and the shear weight would tweak the hinges.  One time, the wind caught hold of it and really did a number on that gate and hinge.  In fact, the wind bent one hinge so badly, that it had to be replaced.  There’s a lot of leverage afforded by a 12 ft. heavy gate.  After the fourth repair trip, I asked him to please keep the gate closed.

#3    Then there was the lady from ‘Never-land’.  Her house was situated adjacent to a country road with an extreme traffic flow.  All the property pins were quite visible, so establishing a line for the fence was an easy task.  The only problem was that there was a 40 inch wide Sycamore tree smack dab in the middle of that property line.  Now, I don’t know what ‘Yellow brick road’ she was traveling on, but she wanted us to run the fence clean through that tree.  “You want what”? I asked.  The lady said, “Can’t you cut a hole in the tree and go right through”?  We simply walked away while hoping we wouldn’t run into any Munchkins on our way home.

# 4   Then there was an elderly gentleman who lived alone and wanted a perimeter fence.  He told me to start when my time would allow.  After my completion, I knocked on his back door as he requested and waited. He came to the door carrying a card table and asked me to set it up under his big tree.  As I did so, he came out carrying two chairs and a large trucker’s wallet dangling from a chain.  He beckoned me to sit while he opened the wallet and removed a stack of Social Security envelopes.  Each envelope contained cash left over from each month’s check.  He had saved this money for over 26 months so he could pay in cash.  He counted out the amount of my bill slowly and precisely, handed the money to me in a solemn, reverent manner and thanked me for a good job.  Being the true gentleman, he offered me a shot of bourbon to wet my whistle.

#5    Franklin Building Supply called one day and told me of a rush, rush job to which they had committed me.  The home was occupied by two retired school teachers and wanted a 4 ft. perimeter chain-link to contain their little puppy dog.  I, at the time, was swamped with work because I had over extended myself with signed contractual jobs.  These two, ebullient schoolmarms were the most congenial individuals that I had met in a long time.  They started off by apologizing for the short notice and for the inconvenience.  I told them not to worry, and started digging holes.  I didn’t have any material supplies on the truck, so I left to pick them up at the lumber yard.  I told them that I would be right back, and was within an hour or so.  To get the posts all set, I worked well after 10 O’clock.  Now, I normally like to let the concrete set for a full day, but this was nice warm weather and if I took my time, it would be OK.  Besides, the next day was Labor Day and I could catch up on my scheduling.  When I completed the work and was ready to leave, the two schoolmarms paid with check, thanked me profusely and invited me back any time and use their spa.  They said to bring my wife and kids along.  Like I said—very nice ladies!