Thursday, March 20, 2014

No. 77 – F*!#in’ Up

Performer: Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Songwriter: Neil Young
Original Release: Ragged Glory
Year: 1990
Definitive Version: Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 1995. Neil and the boys played with Pearl Jam—EV took the third verse—and blew the roof off the joint.

Debbie and I were excited to be buying a house, particularly the one thought we’d lost (good ol. No. 193), but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I mean June was prime baseball season.

The move was scheduled for June 13. We had tickets to see the Reds and Indians play for the first time in a game that counted in the standings June 16.

The weekend before, the Mariners were playing the Tigers in Detroit, and Randy Johnson was scheduled to pitch. I’d always wanted to see the Big Unit—my man—pitch, so did Debbie, but … we had to prepare for our big move. It’s one thing to take a whole day off after the move to see a historic game, like the Reds-Indians, but another to do it just for any game, even if this wasn’t just “any game.” We agreed that we’d have to make a gameday decision on that one.

We knew we’d be moving by the end of May, so we gave our notice to our landlords in Gahanna, who were sad to see us go—we were among the original tenants. The good thing about that was that we had a couple extra weeks after the move to fully pack up and get out. I prefer to handle a move over time.

I also decided I didn’t want to handle this move at all. It was one thing to get a bunch of guys and move from one apartment to another. But now we were moving two people into a house. Debbie didn’t want to make the move on our own, and I agreed. I made enough money that the expense wasn’t a problem, so for the first time ever, I hired movers.

Debbie and I also agreed that we didn’t trust outside movers to handle the important stuff. When I started to get estimates for the job, I learned right away that the less the movers moved, the less expensive the job would be. Fine. Debbie and I will use our whole month to move boxes of china or baseball memorabilia, and they can move the junk.

Debbie wanted to hire Two Men and a Truck because she loved the name of the business. I contacted them, but we hired a different company that was less expensive who operated under the same premise—you get a truck and two movers for an hourly rate—and who seemed to have good ratings in the nascent Internet community. (I’ve long since forgotten the name.)

The weekend before we moved, Scott and Shani came up to celebrate my latest birthday and hang out a bit. We watched the Red Wings win their first Stanley Cup in 40-some years as Debbie and I packed up boxes in the living room and then went to BW-3.

The next day, we passed on driving to Detroit to see the Big Unit pitch. It turns out we missed something. Johnson took a no-hitter into the 8th inning and struck out 15. After the debacle of the near no-hitter we missed in Chicago in 1995, Debbie was a bit nervous about how I’d react, but I was fine with our decision. We really needed the time to get ready to move. I did say that if we had gone to that game, we would have gotten our money’s worth, though.

The following Friday, our movers were scheduled to arrive at 9 in the morning, so after working till 2 a.m. the previous night, I got up before 8 to make final arrangements in anticipation of their arrival. Nine o’clock came and went: no movers. At 9:30 still nothing.

I called the dispatcher and asked what was going on. He said the movers had another job that morning that took longer than anticipated. They would get to us as soon as possible. All I could think was that Debbie was thinking we should have gone with Two Men and a Truck. I wasn’t about to argue.

At about 10, the skies opened up, to the point where it began to flood in the basement. This wasn’t the first time that had happened that spring, but it was the first time I saw it, and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Water cascaded down the basement wall from the well window, which appeared sealed. What the hell?

After pulling back the rug and moving the furniture out of the way, I started sucking up the water with the shop vac before turning the job over to Debbie. I went upstairs to see what the problem was and, sure enough, the gutters over our apartment overflowed. With no way to get to the drainspout, the water just poured over the façade and down into the well … and into our basement.

I ran to the landlord’s and told them of the problem. I said we were sucking up the water as fast as we could, but we needed someone to unclog the gutter. They didn’t until the rain stopped, but when they did, the water stopped cascading immediately. Fortunately, the damage was minimal.

It wasn’t until about noon that the movers finally showed up, apologizing profusely for their tardiness. It turns out it was a blessing in disguise, as I mentioned to Debbie while the movers set up a ramp from our garage to the back of their truck so they could traverse a puddle the size of Lake Erie.

If the movers had showed up on time, I said, the final truck loading here and the unloading at the house would have taken place during the middle of the monsoon. Instead, it was clearing up by the time they arrived, and our furniture was high and dry—even the stuff we had in the basement. We moved on Friday the 13th, but we were the beneficiaries of good luck that day.

We spent the next two days setting up fundamental living conditions and accumulating the equipment necessary to take care of a yard. When we left for Cleveland that Monday, we were in good shape. It rained again, but the game was played, I got a few autographs on an interleague ball and the Reds won 4-1. (I took both my Reds and Indians caps, switching off depending on who was up. This was when I was very down on the Reds and Marge Schott.)

The next two weeks were spent getting acclimated to our new palatial estate and packing up and then cleaning up the old apartment. It had been a great place, and in retrospect, the time when Debbie and I lived in Gahanna was the pinnacle of our relationship. It started to go down after we moved into the house, although that didn’t become apparent for a while.

In fact, the apartment was so good, we couldn’t quite leave it in the end. Our final cleanup included running the shop vac around the entire place (no outside water had flooded in). When I was done, I dumped everything into a trash bag in the garage per instructions, including the filter. I wouldn’t need to use the shop vac right away, so I could get a new filter the next day at Lowe’s.

That night, I had to use the shop vac for something, except … I can’t run it without the filter. Crap! I had to go and get the old one. Fortunately, I kept the spare key we left in a secret place on the back patio, so I drove over to the apartment to “break in” and get the filter out of the trash.

I parked at the Big Bear down the street and snuck around the front, so I would be out of view lest the landlord called the cops for me breaking into my old place. I took my flashlight and was able to root around the trash bag until I found my treasure: the dirty shop vac filter. I then bundled everything back up before taking one last look around and locking up undetected.

One door closed with another one open and beckoning.

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