Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Now I Feel Like a Fool

My parents are having a new deck put on their house. They've been talking about it all summer and my mother has brought it up many times during our phone conversations. I've heard about how the original plans, which would have recreated the original deck, only sturdier and without the access to the (now dismantled) swimming pool, were scuttled when it was discovered that the steps were 1/2 inch higher than allowed in the building code. Then I heard about how they couldn't find a good contractor to do the work at a price they could afford. At one point, my mother was randomly knocking on doors in the neighborhood when she saw a deck that she liked to ask who did the work. She mentioned one man in particular on several occasions. He had done the work himself, but was reluctant to contract to do my parents' deck, as he is a retired contractor and, I presume, would like to enjoy his retirement.

Monday morning, my mother called several times to see if "Jim" had shown up to start work on the deck. And eventually, a guy pulled up in a big truck and started ripping out the old deck, so I called her to tell her that Jim had, indeed, arrived. She asked me to give him her work number before I left the house to meet someone for lunch, just in case there were any problems. So I jotted the number on a piece of paper and wrote my mother's name at the top of the page-- first and last name, just in case he didn't know it off the top of his head-- and took the note out to Jim. He looked at me a little weirdly, but I just figured it was because I was leaving the house with my hair still wet.

That evening at the dinner table, my dad asked me if I'd recognized Jim. "Nooo... should I have?" Turns out Jim is Jim Early, my cousin. Jim and his brother John are the oldest children of my oldest aunt. They were in high school when I was born. I can barely remember their younger sister, Leanne. Our extended family never was particularly close, especially on my dad's side. Add that to the fact that the Early family lived in another state and Jim in particular had moved even further away while I was still in high school, and you have a series of events that mean I haven't actually laid eyes on Jim (or John) in at least 15 or 20 years. Of course I didn't recognize him! And you'd think someone would have thought to mention at some point that a)Jim had moved back to the area and b)we'd decided to hire him to build the deck, not just some contractor who happens to be named Jim.

I felt a little better when he called my dad that night to ask if the person who brought him the telephone number was his daughter. He hadn't recognized me, either. When he showed up today to start work, we smiled at each other sheepishly.

Nobody tells me anything important around here!


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