Friday, February 8, 2008

It is Friday, heralded by Thursday, and scheduled for today as it's been duly noted on the calendar for some time now. Knew it was coming, I remember it from seven days ago, but I just lost track of the order of days, I guess. Something about my muscles and joints being in an arthritic fog all week. Time moves ever onward. Just try and stop it.

See this?

Yesterday was spent tearing it off the world and sending it to rot at the bottom of the landfill. It weighed 2180 pounds. I just backed up the trailer and loaded her in. Sometimes the world is made prettier through simple removal of ugliness. You don't have to be a beautician. You could be a Waste Transfer Specialist.

So that's where I was yesterday. The day before that was spent meeting a few new customers and signing contracts. These two were interesting, friendly folks: in their sixties, third marriage, with an eye for gardening and colorful walls. They were both pleased, more or less, to meet me. In this business, it's important to have both the husband and wife present at these things. The salesman sells the wife on the remodel, and she loves you for it. Then she tells her husband and sells him on it, through various coital exchanges and whatnot, I imagine. Then the contractor shows up and informs everyone on how it's going to be, with the bottom line and so forth. This is usually met with a certain amount of unwelcome consternation and a bowl of back-and-forth. In Ditchman Family Construction we're beginning to insist that both the husband and the wife be present at the meetings, lest we drag out the job in committee to the End of Days. The wife is usually swayed and convinced fairly easily -she knows what she wants- but it's the husband who has veto power, so any ideas he has must be met with patience, interest, and optimism, before being discarded entirely. At one point, he pulled out his watch and said, "I've got to get back to work. Look honey, whatever makes you happy. You sign it." I've seen it a thousand times.

Anyway, he had a nice watch. It was an old Elgin pocketwatch and I commented on it. Suddenly, he wasn't late for work anymore. He told me all about the thing, and the history of Elgin, America's contribution to timepieces, the superiority of their accuracy compared to the Swiss, etc. The wife rolled her eyes. I asked him how much he knew about old pocketwatches and he stopped and looked at me with a face that said plainly, I'm an expert. I believed him. When I told him that I had an old Elgin that I had inherited from my grandfather and that it still worked, he began to interrogate me on the subject as if there was nothing left of interest in the world. I hemmed and hawed, not knowing the whole story on it. Soon, he exhausted my limited knowledge on my own timepiece and, mildly exasperated, mentioned that I should bring it by. "Wind it once a day and check the time. You may be surprised." He was off.

Later, after the contract was signed, the wife was showing me the recent bathroom remodel and we passed through a room in the house that had literally hundreds of pocket watches on shelves, dressers, the desk. It was an impressive display and I stopped to look. She said, "Oh yeah, that's the price I pay, but I know every husband has his thing. It makes him happy." And she gave me the familiar look that I see on my own wife's face when I'm messing with the aquarium or typing this blog. She added, "And I have my own things... Check out this bathtub!"

On the way out I paused to look again, and noticed something interesting: they were all ticking. I pictured the husband getting up from bed every morning and walking over to his collection and diligently, carefully, winding each beloved little antique. The daily regimen. A patient, relaxing fixation that could not be neglected. I pictured his wife getting up and walking past him, running the water in the bath, and not noticing the gentle, rhythmic tiktiktiktiktiktik of a thousand timepieces. The passing of time itself, and the sweet-tempered sounds of aged, tolerant spouses, making each other happy.