A Tale of Two Boys and a Fence

It was late one night, getting close to bed time.  It must have been 8:12  pm – 8:15 pm when the phone rang.  It was from the oldest grandson who started by asking how Nana was.  Now you know nothing good can come from a phone call from your grandson that starts with” “How are you”?  Then I heard the dreaded: “Is Papa there”?  Shit I was in deep doo-doo!  It turns out that the eldest grandson had seen a video on how to convert a jon boat into a bass boat!  Now how the eldest grandson came into possession of a jon boat is a story for which there are just not enough screen pixels to express!  But all he needed was for me to watch the videos and give him some advice.  By now I am holding the phone with one hand and beating myself with the other to keep from screaming.

But I promised to watch the videos and get back with the eldest grandson.  And I soon discovered from the videos that no young man or boy had ever performed a jon to bass boat conversion.  Instead they had suckered their father or worse their grandpa to do the work for them.  Further it would cost more than pocket change to buy the materials for the conversion.  And I knew that the eldest grandson was already deep in debt for gas money and shiny fishing lures.  Then like a broken Liberty Bell clanging in my head, the thought sprang into being of: “What would Papa do”?

Why Papa would turn this to his advantage!  So I talked to eldest grandson about what it would take in both time and money to convert his jon boat.  And since he did not have the money for the materials, I would loan him the money.  And I would help him with the work on the boat.  In exchange, he could repay me by painting my fence and shed at $10 per hour.  And he had to promise to complete the painting.  Ooooo visions of Walleye, giant striped bass and small mouth passed before the youngster’s glazed eyes.  I smiled and set the hook.

Well the conversion of the jon boat to bass boat turned out to be a really nice job.  He learned a lot and I enjoyed the company.  And it turned out that the eldest grandson talked his brother, the next to eldest grandson, into helping him with work.  Somewhere I have a picture of the two of them on that boat fishing and putting a two-inch blue gill on the stringer.  But, alas, all fun must end and payback must start.

I purchased 5 gallons of paint, brushes, and rollers at the local big box and proudly presented them to the eldest grandson.  True to his word he lit like a man possessed into painting that fence.  Soon it became apparent that I would have to pay him a whole lot more than I owed him and it would take a whole lot more of paint.

When the noon day sun was shining down on his back he decided to take a break (actually he went to his Nana to ask for her to cook lunch for him).  Then that young man asked if it was be okay for his brother to help him paint the fence for $10 per hour?   That young man has been listening to his Papa too much.  He was scheming to collect $10 per hour from me, pay his brother $7.50 per hour, and pocket the rest!  As much as I appreciated the deviousness; I had to have the fence painted on the square.  So there are the two of them painting the fence and shed.  It does look nice, doesn’t it.

Along the way I learned that I really need to better think the time and materials required for grandkids to complete a project.  If my $20 trim brushes end up like a contestant in an ugly dog contest, it is my fault for not teaching them how to properly clean paint brushes.  If the steps to the shed have paint spots on them, then I just need to have the steps painted too.  Heck seventy years of living and I am still learning.

And along the way the two of them learned even more.  They learned that keeping promises is not always easy; but they did keep them.  They learned that going into debt can place you in a position that you may not like.  Now they shy away from me like a leper if I try to loan them money for a date or something.  And they learned that even brothers can have fun together and enjoy one another’s company.

Best grand I ever spent!!!!



Employees Must Wash Hands Before Leaving the Restroom

The other day Linda and I visited a fast food restaurant to use their facilities. And there was that sign posted on the wall. You know, the one about employees washing their hands before returning to work. I looked around me and wondered, “Who checks the hands of all these employees”? So I peeked around inside the restroom and outside the door. There was not a single, owner, manager, assistant manager, associate manager, shift supervisor, or fellow employee checking the hands of the employees as they returned to preparing my food. And I was struck by the fact that my mother always checked my hands before I sat down to eat. And we didn’t even have a sign posted in the bathroom. It was then that I clouds parted and the voice said: “No one checks their hands, dummy”!

If no one checks their hands, then what good is sign? It didn’t influence my behavior, although my mother did. And no one in the mens room, employee or otherwise, would ever be influence by such a sign.  It was then that the floor tiles parted and the voice floated up saying; “It was the faceless bureaucrats, dummy”!

So what good is the sign?  Why, look at the economic benefit provided by posting signs in all these restaurants!  So I Googled the number of restaurants and gas stations in the United States using data from Fall 2015 and 2013 respectively and came up with 744,021 sites.  I have never been in one, but have to presume that the lady’s room also have their versions of the same sign.  That is a whopping 1,488,042 “Employees Must Wash Their Hands Before Leaving the Restroom” signs.  Now I don’t know about you, but I guess that it must cost at least $20 to make, ship, and install one of those ubiquitous signs.  And that is $29,760,840 of economic benefit to our economy!  Why God Bless America and all those Faceless Bureaucrats for making our country great!

Wait, wait, stop waving those flags!  Don’t you and I pay for all those signs when we buy gasoline and burgers?  Why do I have to pay for a sign that provides me no benefit?  That makes me mad!  Why What Would Papa Do?  Why he would rip one of those signs off the wall and take it home with him – after all he paid for it!