Pretty Easy to Please
They were standing in front of the counter at the local building yard, each with a list of various materials he needed to pick up, in order to continue forward progress on their respective projects. Like many other do-it-yourselfers, Ken and Harvey had their own specialties, and navigated their way through Mendocino County highways and bi-ways, not afraid to venture off the beaten track. There were a lot more unbeaten tracks available than beaten ones.
“What do you say, there Amigo?” Ken greeted Harvey enthusiastically, having known him since he first arrived on the mountain.
“I say nothing, until I know what the charges are,” replied Harvey. “Are you getting long with your work, old friend, or are you simply getting along?” Harvey was looking over chisels, trying to decide if he needed something between one and one and a half inches.
“A little of both, I expect. But then I expect a lot, like maybe seeing the Giants beating the Dodgers occasionally. How about you? Still doing tile at Lon’s?” Ken had grabbed a new chalk box, and added it to a growing pile on the counter.
“No, milked that cow dry. Good gig, that one, but all good things come to an end. I heard that once.” Harvey decided that he could not do without that inch and a quarter chisel, so he pulled it down off the hook. “Been over to Spy Rock, working on a mixed bag: cement water tank on the one hand, deck and railing on the other.”
“Ha! The bitter with the sweet. Haven’t messed with tanks in a month of Sundays, and then some. Shoulder won’t do it any more.” Ken shifted his right shoulder around, grimacing slightly.
“Nothing you can do about it?” asked Harvey.
“Nothing I want to do about it. Besides, there’s technically nothing wrong-just cranky, especially when working with concrete, so I don’t. Or if I do, it’s grout for my tile, and that’s not the same thing.”
The bells mounted on the door to the shop jangled, and in walked Greg, brightening as he saw his friends already at the counter. He ambled over, swaggering as he fished a piece of paper out of his pocket, and gave it a look-see. “Nothing like a good solid chunk of work to get you in the right frame of mind. What are you two no-goods up to? I can only imagine-no good.” He laughed at his own wit, and the others joined in.
“Kind of manic, today, there, are we, Greg?” Harvey smiled when he asked the question.
“No more than usual. Got four hours of sleep-that ain’t bad for me. What I did got,” he laughed again, “was away from Mac and his power trip. That boy has quite the ego. He likes to play the boss and give orders. Never worked with a guy up here on the ridge who saw it that way. The rest of us just work together, to git her done. I swear to Buddha, he even demanded that we listen to that music crap from the coast. He demanded it. Said he’d earned the right to call the shots on the music. Said he had a contractor’s license, and that give him the right.” Greg shook his weather-beaten head again.
“Well, I been expecting you to get tired of it for a while. You bitch about him enough. It’s about time, it would seem. Are you going to be able to land enough work on your own?” Ken asked.
“Hell, yes. I aim to troubleshoot for Jessie. He’s got so much going on, that he needs one guy he can plug into any number of things, at any given time. So what are you two doing just standing here?”
“Waiting for them to cut me some 2 by 6 twelve footers. All they got is tens and twenties, and neither works. Ken, here, is waiting on the truck, which was supposed to be here an hour ago, so he’s shit out of luck. Could be here all day. Looks like it’s your turn.”
Earl had come out from the office to lend a hand, and he beckoned to Greg to join him. “What’s cooking there old-timer? What can I do you for?”
Greg strutted up to the counter, spreading out his list in front of him, and exclaiming, “Got me a project here, and I expect it ought to keep me working for a minute or two. Let’s start with the girders. I need...” A few minutes later, when he had finished, Greg stepped back to join his compatriots. “There, that ought to keep them busy for a while. Dang me though, they’re going to charge me a delivery fee. What kind of thing is that to do to me? Hell, I’m throwing my business their way, the least they could do is make my deliveries for free.”
“So what’s Jessie got you doing?” Harvey asked.
“Oh, just the usual. He’s been wanting to have an outhouse built for his laborers on the farm, down on the bottom of his spread, so he’s got me on it like flies on...never mind.”
“You’re building an outhouse? That’s what your “project” is?” Harvey asked incredulously.
“Yep,” said Greg complacently. “I’m building an outhouse. It ain’t the Taj Mahal, but at least I’m listening to my choice of music, and not having it dictated to me. That by itself, is worth the price of admission. I’ll talk at you gentlemen later,” and he was gone.
Harvey and Ken exchanged glances. “Pretty easy to please, I’d say, if all he wants is to listen to his music.”