When you're laid-off, there's about three things you can do: freelance, look for a job, and catch up with all those people in your family you've lost touch with because you were covering school board meetings in places that end in "ville" or "berg."
Nothing against those chappies in the rural towns, but I've spent my fair share of summer nights in un-air-conditioned cafeterias listening to old men with more than five pens in their top pockets complain about tax levies and other buzz phrases that I've since blocked from my mind.
That said, Tuesday started like any other day. The sun came out, the cat ignored me, and my girlfriend spoke a few arcane French phrases to me (God bless 'er). But right before I was knee-deep in my freelance project, my grandfather called. Most grandfathers understand the dynamic of a man and his work, but not today.
This 87-year-old Polish juggernaut needed the plumbing under his sink replaced that very day. There was no free-lance project. There was no girlfriend speaking French. There was a man named "Roman," who liked to yell like he was still manning the gun on a tank in World War II.
When I arrived, he was at the table, head buried in hands and crying that "no one loves grandpa." Family sources have told me that now my grandmother is in the nursing home, the old man is starved for attention and will do anything to get it.
At the end of the day, the plumbing was fixed, but two things stand out in my mind. When we arrived at Lowe's to grab some supplies, he starts crying in the little motorized cart saying no one loves him. Naturally, people start looking at me with looks on their faces saying "what have you done to this poor old man?" Of course, that pales in comparison to what happened during our next stop at the grocery store. Being the unlucky bloke I am, I was stuck behind the old man at the checkout counter. Normally, this wouldn't bother me, but when someone unleashes a barrage of gas in front of you, the spot directly behind them is the last place you want to be.
Some Febreze later, we were fixing pluming under the sink, trading stories and jabbering about how the "damn washer doesn't fit."
I never did get to my project that day, something unheard of in my old circles. I was almost expecting a silver-haired editor to come up to me and say something about "dropping the ball" or "sacrificing the integrity of the publication." Nope. The only person who yelled at me that day was the old man. Something about turning left on a one-way street.
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