As a kid, I had so much fun playing with my plastic building bricks that I thought: One day I’d like to be a bricklayer...
Fast forward thirty years; now married with four kids and our own home; or at least sharing it with the bank!
Enter a grand vision: transforming a thirty-foot square shed at the rear into a rumpus room; across from a paved courtyard with an in-ground swimming pool; sheltered by an overhead pergola draped with ornamental vines!!!!!
We excavated a hole, wide enough for the pool and a surrounding brick wall to support the soil that would be packed back against it – to be levelled as a base for the paving stones. The wall, which no-one would ever see, would need a few hundred bricks.
When I saw I could get them for less than a hundred bucks, my testosterone-fuelled logic simplified the whole deal: a half-hour trip with my son and my trailer; another half-hour of loading and maybe forty-five minutes to get back home.
Slicko! We left at ten - to be back by lunchtime!
As we passed the trailer-hire signs near home, I thought: Fifty bucks for a steel-framed double- axle unit? No way! My trailer only has a wooden frame, but it will do just fine …
We arrived within the allowed time and we loaded the bricks: three layers neatly stacked to prevent slippage – and maybe wind resistance???
After I paid for them, a flicker of idle curiosity alerted me to how little air seemed to be residing in the trailer’s tyres; so we slowly drove down the hill to a garage to reinflate them. Now those soft-walls held forty-five PSI; to support what I was gradually realising was almost four thousand pounds of bricks!
We had barely moved when one of those soft-walled tyres loudly proclaimed: “BANG!”
Reverie interrupted; we off-loaded the top layer of bricks – promising to return. Then we jacked up the trailer; attached the spare wheel and set off.
Reverie resumed; we’d driven to within twenty-five minutes from home when – “BANG! LURCH! SCRAAAAAAPE !”
Glancing back as we stopped, we were treated to the sight of a complete trailer-wheel; gathering speed as it rushed past; until it launched itself into a small tree. When we got out, we saw several bricks lying on the roadside; while my wooden-framed trailer languished at an angle that precluded its featuring in any sales brochure!
Enter a Good Samaritan with an empty steel-framed trailer, offering to carry our bricks – free!
We accepted and loaded them on. Happily.
With the bricks loaded, he announced he could only take them to his side of town - with us living fifteen minutes further away on the other side!
We followed him to his house and unloaded the bricks. We thanked him and went back to a trailer-hire place near home, where I paid Fifty bucks for a steel-framed double- axle unit? Okay!!!
We returned to the bricks we’d loaned to the garage manager, and after loading them we turned for home. Then, about twenty-five minutes from home, we discovered a forlorn-looking, one-legged, wooden-framed trailer at the roadside. We stopped and, as we surveyed it, another Good Samaritan helped us to load it on the hire-unit and – having no ropes - weigh it down with several bricks!
Sometime later we returned to our first Samaritan’s house, where we completed reloading and turned again for home; back across town in the gathering afternoon peak-hour traffic...
The intersection near our home was encrusted with vehicles, but one kind motorist paused to wave us through in front of him to enter our driveway.
Which I now saw was blocked by my wife’s cousin’s car!
This was wonderful news!
Now she and her kids and our kids could help to more quickly unload the steel-framed, double-axle hire-unit of its load of bricks and a forlorn trailer relic. This gave me time to return the rented trailer before having to pay an extra day’s hire; which would have meant another Fifty bucks for a steel-framed double-axle unit!
“Slicko” had not materialised, but I gained some valuable insights:
Male hormones cannot accurately predict a project’s timing;
There are better ways to bond with a teenage son – though building the wall together afterwards did 'cement' our relationship;
There is ‘mortar' renovations than meets the eye;
And - above all - one day is quite long enough to be a bricklayer!
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