I always want to begin each entry with an apology for not posting more often. That needs to stop.
...but I am sorry.
Not that terribly much has happened since my last entry. We got the water heater issue fixed; had an issue with the washing machine that caused another flood. I came downstairs to change the laundry, saw the floor under a half inch of water for what had to be the ninth time, and let fly a string of curses that would make Ken the WonderPlumber proud. Garrett followed the sound of Kate-rage and calmly surmised the cause of the flood: a blocked drain. He grabbed a big stick, climbed on top of the washer to get close to the drain, poked it a few times, and with a lethargic gurgle, the water went its way. I stormed off and refused to return to the basement any more that evening.
My reaction to our basement is a case study in Pavlovian conditioning.
Upstairs Dude is gone. He was replaced by Bob. The story is slightly more complicated, but only just. I dropped eaves on a conversation between him and our landlord’s wife out on the front porch one day. All I heard were things like “...be gone by the end of the month” and “final rent check” and “don’t have much to move”. I may not be known for my Holmesian powers of deduction, but I didn’t really need them in this case.
Over the next week, a cavalcade of borrowed cars puttered back and forth from our driveway, carrying bits of Upstairs Dude’s possessions away to God-knows-where. He and his 13ish-year-old son did the bulk of the hauling, and I was lucky enough to catch an exchange between them as I came back from a run one morning:
Upstairs Dude: “Bring those boxes downstairs!”
Son: “I can't! They're heavy!"
Upstairs Dude: "Well bring them one at a time!"
Son: "They're too heavy, Dad!"
Upstairs Dude: "Just bring me one!"
Son: "You know, something's really wrong with you."
They may have heard the thump as I lost my balance from laughing; the walls are thin.
Then, not too long after that, the pulsing red-blue of police strobes invaded my dream about an abandoned construction site. The thought “Oh God something’s happened to Garrett” straddled sleep and waking so that I snapped full awake in less than the time it took for the adrenaline to blast through my system. I bolted to the front window; two cruisers were parked in front of the house and I heard voices upstairs. I immediately relaxed and settled onto the futon to watch the fun.
There wasn’t much fun for anybody. I couldn’t see or hear much; from what I could see, the cops looked bored and Upstairs Dude looked more annoyed than furious. They cuffed him, walked him out to one cruiser and plopped him in. They fiddled with their radios for several minutes, sat in their cruisers for several more, then drove off, leaving me in a state of mild bewilderment.
The next day, Bob arrived. Bob looks and sounds just as country bumpkin as Upstairs Dude, but has a few more social graces. He introduced himself to me (as Bob) and volunteered some details about Upstairs Dude that I had been itching for, and several about himself that I could have lived without.
Bob told me Upstairs Dude had been living on parole and had simultaneously violated it and his lease. Vinnie had magnanimously turned a blind eye to the lease violation and had just asked him to vacate ASAP. The cops weren’t so other-cheeky with his parole violation. So back to jail he went. A breath before I could wonder how Bob knew so much, he told me. He’d been a jailbuddy of Upstairs Dude and was on parole as well. They even had the same parole officer, who knew Vinnie.
So far, the plumbing has been more of a threat to our health than him, so I’m not worried.
Still no luck on the job front. I’m starting to get a better sense of this town now that the newness has worn off, and a contributor to the dismal job climate here is the town itself. It’s smaller and more rural than I’m used to and a good hour away from anything resembling a city. The only real industries here are metalworks and a nuclear plant. Everything else is small and privately owned, which in this economic climate means that employers are cutting back and employees are holding onto what jobs they have with tooth and nail. The few chain stores and fast food joints aren’t hiring.
In other news, I spent Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Everybody calls it the armpit of America, but I, like a good skeptic, refused to believe anything anyone said until I could see it for myself.