Sometimes my own stupidity stuns me. I cannot explain what possessed me to do some of the dumber things I’ve done. I’m compelled to talk about them as well. Probably to help remind myself not to judge other schmucks too harshly when they do something ridiculous. Sometimes we get hit with a case of the stupids and it’s only luck which saves us from ending up on the Darwin Awards.
Our rental house needed a new roof. My husband had a job during the day, one that took him out of town. I did not. I was a regular She-rah, general contractor and chief gopher. I was also one of the people who did shingling, hammering, ladder climbing and caulking of flashing. By the end of it I felt very competent and very tired. It took us two weeks to do what would have been a 2 day job for a crew of 3 Mexican Roofers. Our crew varied from me and two kids to me and the two kids, plus my friend Louie, my brother Pat, his friend Larry, a somewhat random kid who you will meet later, my husband and my two renters.
I only had one giant snafu. As chief gopher I went on a mission to Menard’s with Bailey in tow to get supplies. The supplies we needed were mainly 3/4 inch oriented strand board which is pretty much plywood (but Oriented Strand Board sounds way cooler). The OSB is very, very heavy. It comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets. I think we bought 12. It looked something like a giant deck of cards.
As luck would have it, there was a Menard’s guy in the area of the lumber yard where we were. Even better, he was driving a forklift. He lifted the stack of sheets into the back of the pick-up. They were longer than the truck, but not by much. We left the gate down and put a red flag on the sheets. We had about a half a mile to go.
Bailey, in her infinite wisdom asked me if we shouldn’t tie down the OSB. I told her we wouldn’t be on the freeway, we didn’t have far to go, and the damn things were so heavy they weren’t going anywhere. By virtue of hindsight I can see now that this was an ill informed and ultimately stupid statement to make. We cleared the parking lot, but not the first stop light. In the middle of the intersection of University and Prior Avenue, I dropped 6 gigantic, heavy sheets of plywood. They just slid off and dropped in the middle of the intersection. The middle of the intersection. There they sat. I pulled over.
Bailey said, ” I told you we should tie them down!” If I hadn’t needed her help, I might have just pushed her out of the truck and driven away.
I’d have to say this moment ranks right up there with some of the more terrified moments of my life. There I was on the other side of the light. In my rear-view mirror were people driving around my stack of stuff. University is probably the busiest street in St.Paul. It’s definitely one of the most dangerous. I got out of the truck and grabbed my phone. I was still addled by the stupids and now also had an aggravated case of the mortified pit-sweats. I figured I’d have to call the police and have them stop traffic so nobody got killed.
As I was standing next to the truck looking at the intersection (keeping in mind that the rest of the OSB is in my truck, so the story tells itself to everyone driving by). A car driving towards the intersection stopped and asked if we needed help. I said I thought we did, but that I should probably just call the police before something bad happened. “Pshhh! You don’t need no cops. Turn your truck around go back into the intersection. Stop the truck and we’ll help you load that stuff back in. People will go around you. Don’t sweat it.”
I was now in complete sheep mode, if sheep could blush so hard they sprained their cheeks. I turned around slowly, and did what they said. Bailey and I and our two new friends, we all busted our asses to get those things up off the street and back into the truck. It took 3 of us to lift each one, and one person to stand guard so we didn’t get killed.
We loaded it, drove forward just enough to pull over (dropping 3 of the sheets again) and tie the things down. Reese and his pal followed us as we pulled over. They were getting out to help us get situated when a guy getting into his truck nearby, looked over and shook his head. “Never send a woman to do a man’s job.” Something on my face made him regret saying that. Or maybe it was a joke, like he said. Far be it from me to hold momentary stupidity against a person.
He ended up coming over and instructing us that we didn’t need to tie anything down. What we needed to do was to put the gate up, such that the far end of my giant deck of cards was resting on the gate of the truck, thereby making the whole load stable to travel forward.
Reese and his buddy (two men) and Bailey and I all told the guy, “You can’t close the gate, the boards are too long!” He had to come over and have the men hold the whole stack up while he shut the gate. They boards didn’t have to fit inside the bed with the gate closed, just most of them had to fit. The 6 inches that hung out didn’t matter. Duh. It seemed so obvious when he did it.
Reese needed work (his older buddy or dad or whoever was driving with him told me). I got his number and called him to help us with clean-up on the roofing project. I had him help a couple other times, too w hile we were doing that project. He’s young, but worked hard. Plus he saved my ass.