Grumpy about the construction project (F#**ing trim)

I’m installing trim today. A lot of wood is stained and sliced via the table saw to the correct widths. All I have to do right now is cut side casings to length and nail them in place.

It took me over an hour to install just three pieces today. The first piece went in easy. The second piece, I cut wrong. Too short. A wasted plank. I got it right on the second try. The third piece, I needed to notch out some wood on the trim to make space for the little thingy that the doorknob latch thingy goes into. I think you know what I’m talking about, right?

This would not be necessary if we were using standard trim, but no, we’re making it ourselves to meet our own personal ego specs. In order to do this, we had to buy one of those worksite table saws. All my life I’ve wanted a table saw, except for right now. I don’t want a table saw right now because I’ve used a lot of cutting power tools recently and, frankly, they frighten me. We got the table saw anyway, and I actually used it, despite the story our babysitter told us about some man who cut off the tips of all his fingers on a table saw min her parents’ basement.

We ripped plank after plank over the weekend. During most of the work, I was filled with a steely mix of terror and courage which kept my hands from shaking too much. I took many deep breaths, which helped keep the panicky feeling at bay.

“Steely” might be an exaggeration. Maybe a softer metal alloy is a better metaphor.

On the up side, the way I felt at the end of each day — emotionally and physically exhausted despite very little physically demanding labor — was a good reminder of what Jesse feels like most days because of her anxiety. She really is steely. Raw fear will wipe you out.

Anyway, the notch: first I tried the router because it already had this little chamfer bit in the chuck. (I just like saying “chuck” and “chamfer bit” in the same sentence. There’s a little chamfer bit in my router chuck, baby, you wanna stop by?) That didn’t really work despite a lot of fiddling and testing, so then I got out the good old hammer and chisel and had at it. Success, though it looks like a beaver sharpened its teeth on our casing now. Then I installed that bloody piece of wood but I forgot to stain the now-bare wood that was exposed by the notching, so I had to grab a little rag and try to shove some stain in there in the little space between the casing and that little doorknob latch thingy.

Don’t tell Anthony; maybe he won’t notice.

Things got a little better after these initial pains, so I’m working along smoothly now, except I got hungry so I’m eating lunch as I type this.

So far I’ve used the miter saw, nail gun and pancake compressor, and router. I’ll probably have to throw one or more power sanders into the mix at some point, and that will just complete me.

Done eating. Back to work.


grumpy about the construction project (sweaty with equity)

I woke up this morning prepared to do paint battle on a bunch of cedar clapboard siding. We had priced out having someone else do the exterior painting on the addition, because I don’t actually want to climb up to the peak of a tall two-story house with a can of paint. Call me crazy, but I’m worried about falling.

But the estimate came back at about $2500. Ouch. We can save a lot by doing as much of it ourselves as possible. So this weekend we’re priming siding and putting a first rough coat of paint on before it goes up. Our guys do work right, so when they nail those boards on they’ll wipe each and every nail head with some sort of solvent (napalm? naphtha?) that keeps the nail from making paint colors bleed. Then they’ll caulk things and do whatever other magic they do, and then the second coat of paint will go on. That’s when we’ll probably hire the painter to come do whatever parts we’re too scared to do. Up high.

The day started out badly as I set out to prime. I headed out the basement door into the back yard and walked around and up the hill to the front of the house. Now my shoes were dirty and my goal was to avoid going in the basement again, because I just shampooed the carpet in there last night. I opened the garage door and wandered around in the garage, organizing my thoughts on what I needed to do, and then I realized I needed to get upstairs in the house to find my work gloves. I walked back out of the garage and tried the kitchen door. Locked. I tried the fancy main front door. Locked. Shit shit shit. Anthony had already left with the kids on an adventure, so I didn’t have anyone to let me in.  I headed back around to the basement door and wiped my feet carefully on the entry rug, and then I tip-toed across the blasted carpet and up the stairs to the main floor. I found my gloves. I headed through the house to the kitchen door. As I walked through the kitchen, I noticed the gaping opening into the garage, where a door will shortly be installed.

Old habits die hard. Our house hasn’t had an entrance from the garage directly into the house. It does now. I just need to remember that new reality. Sigh.

Finding space to lay out a bunch of siding is a head scratcher. I ended up using the old cream city brick we saved during demolition to set up little blocks to hold up siding pieces off the grass in the back yard. I carried a lot of bricks from here to there. Also I had to lug the siding from the garage, where it was stacked, to the back yard. Lug lug lug. Then paint paint paint in various positions – squatting, bending over, on one knee, on two knees, on my ass. I worked almost non-stop from about 10 until 5:30 or so. I almost finished priming both sides of 50-odd boards, ranging from 12 to 20 feet in length. I’ll finish priming tomorrow morning and then put on the rough coat of finish latex in the afternoon.

I’m not used to this sort of work. As I recuperate this evening, my tired right hand, which held the paint brush, is struggling to lift this margarita to my lips. Ugh. (I’ll just move that glass over to the left side of the keyboard; all better.) Oddly, my left leg (but not my right) is cramping from calf to hip. My lower back is aching all over. 48 years of experience on this earth are speaking to me through my aching body.

Bah. I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s boring and no fun. I think I’ll just leave the siding where it is and let the lawn grow over it. The Tyvec wrap on the house looks just fine.


grumpy about the construction project (futile gestures)

The project has slowed down for the past week or two because of delays with getting our utility company to approve and accomplish work it needs to do to upgrade our electrical service to 200 amps. Every day for the past week I’ve heard the sound of what I thought was my teeth grinding. But it turns out it was the sound of a monopolist utility’s bureaucratic machinery doing its thing.

Living in a deconstructed shithole is okay when you see work progressing rapidly, but when things slow down, it gets oppressive. Nick and I headed out on an adventure this morning, after eating breakfast in the basement. As we trudged to the car, he held my hand and looked up at me. “How much more days do we have to live like this, mommy?”

He sounded a little depressed. I answered as honestly as I could. “I don’t know, little buddy. A while. Maybe two more months?”

He shook his head in grim resignation and climbed into the car. “That’s a looooong time…”

It has gotten to be a little tough, I guess. We can’t live in these spaces, i.e., most of the house.

IMG_0063 IMG_0059 IMG_0060  IMG_0013 IMG_0009 IMG_0002

We do have a living room that’s untouched, but it’s open to the larger construction space, and somehow we don’t end up there. This is a pretty good shot of the living space we’re spending most of our indoor time in lately.


That far wall is full of all the kids’ art supplies. Pile of toys and junk to the left. The little table is usually their art table, but these days it’s where they eat. Yup, that’s a drying rack with our towels on it, next to the sofa.

If you sit on that sofa, you’re staring right at our makeshift kitchen, which still looks like this.


It’s all a wreck. We’re doing our best to keep it as homey and livable as possible. Anthony even put art on the wall over the sofa.


We clean best we can every day, but it’s hard to keep up.

The past week there was a fair bit of work in the kitchen and entry area, which is right over the basement bathroom where we do all water-based activities (shower, toilet, sink, laundry). With everything but the original plank subfloor gone, bits of debris fall through the cracks constantly. If we’re lucky, we’re in the bathroom when it happens and that stuff gets right down to our scalps and stays there all day.

Some crazy person installed off-white wall-to-wall plush carpet in the basement before we bought the house. When tradesmen come into the basement, their dirty shoes grind highly visible filth into it. When we cook and eat and drink tea or coffee, every little dripping leaves a filthy stain. After hearing Nick’s indirect complaint this morning, I realized the carpet has become totally disgusting in the last month.

But still we hold on to vestiges of our formerly tidy life. We still wash the dog’s feet when she comes back in from a walk. I don’t know why I bother. Anthony dusts and mops the wood floors diligently each evening to get rid of the day’s work debris. We still avoid shoes in the bedroom. We even shower regularly. They’re all futile gestures, token remembrances of a cleaner, first-world life, one we hope someday will return to us.

The only really visible bit of work done this week, from our living-here perspective, was fresh demolition in the powder room and kitchen entry. Talon and Dan did it earlier this week. It’s really strenuous and difficult work, pulling up what looks like 5 or 6 archived layers of flooring, and it’s noisy and messy. I didn’t think it was that much of a change — just a new small area of the house reduced to bare subfloor planks. But I guess the kids don’t see it that way. Jesse walked in the kitchen door in the afternoon after the work was done. I was still out by the car when I heard her start screaming.

Come to think of it, the guys started demolition work early that same morning. Even as we made breakfast and got our day started in the basement, the ripping, pounding, and reciprocating-sawing were going strong. Bits of wood and plaster showered us gently when we used the bathroom. Jesse walked into the bathroom and came out screaming. “AAAAAAH. I CANNOT GO IN THERE!”

Anthony and I chided her. “It’s just construction dust. You can deal with that.”


Huh. Anthony investigated. Sure enough, there was glass everywhere. The glass cover on the cheap light fixture over the toilet had fallen off from the shaking of the demolition. It shattered as it landed, leaving shards of glass on the floor and filling the toilet bowl itself with glass.

Anthony had used the toilet just a few minutes before Jesse walked into the bathroom, and then Nick too. We were fortunate no one was on the can when the cover fell. Unfortunately, Nick doesn’t like to flush this basement toilet, so it was full of his urine. I love Anthony for many reasons, and now I can add a new one: he did the dirty work of reaching into the peepee-filled toilet to pull out the glass shards. It was nasty work, but somebody (other than me) had to do it.

This evening, after a week of suffering and getting by, the filthy carpet finally overwhelmed us. I pulled out the Bissell and shampooed. It’s a hopeless act, really, but it’s Friday night and at least we can enjoy the clean floor for a couple days before the gang-o-workers returns on Monday to trash the joint again.

Grumpy about the bad days 

It’s been 21 days since I posted up a blog. I’ve been busy with other shit, as you may have guessed if you read my last couple posts. Anthony and I have been ripping out old wall-to-wall carpet in a room, and we sanded the floor and refinished it.

It looks pretty good. Here’s  the progression. What it looked like right after we lifted the carpet:


Then after we sanded (with a 130-pound buff sander so unhinged that managing it was like dragging an unbalanced washing machine around the room):


And then this:


Oh. Wait. That’s the Spam I fried for Jesse that day. Hold on while I find the right photo.

Okay, here’s what it looked like after the first coat of varnish:


And after two more coats:


Anyway, there’s been other stuff to do as well the past several weeks, like feeding minions and trying to remember to have them bathe at least once a week. Also school lunches. Also tae kwon do shit. Also finishing pants and shorts that I’m sewing for Jesse and Nick. Also sitting on the sofa slothfully in a mild depression, staring blankly at dust bunnies floating in the sun, which I have to do every day for a little while after I take Nick to school.

Because Jesse has had a few ba-a-a-a-ad weeks and Nick is in the midst of a five-year-old’s equivalent of a mid-life crisis.

So it got under my skin when I saw that there were two new comments today on my most recent blog post and this is what they said:

“When will the next post come?” (Anonymous)

“Really how long do you expect me to wait for your witty and emotionally draning [sic] commentary?” (Anonymous)

I don’t get a lot of comment action on my blog because WordPress’s default is to require commenters to leave their email address and I haven’t figured out yet how to change it. Who has time for that shit? So most of the comments I get are like these — slightly off-kilter, weird things written by what I assume is some sort of translator spam machine, along the lines of “thank you for your insightful insights into the operations of things. I am look forward to reading much more helpful and useful iterations of your creativity.”

Still, it got under my skin. I read the comments and shook my head, thinking, “Listen, joker, it’s not my commentary that’s emotionally draining, it’s my LIFE.”

Nick is totally out of control right now. He’s going through the terrible twos, three years late. (My kids are late bloomers.) He screams frequently and at random moments, throws tantrums and hard toys at me, doesn’t do anything I ask, refuses to share anything with Jesse, beats her up and follows her around the house attacking her with imaginary weapons and then falls into bawling tears when she pokes him with a feather. He’s driving all of us crazy.

But who is Jesse to judge? She’s been throwing her own tantrums, and she’s turning 10 next week. It’s been day after day of horrifying, emotionally numbing outbursts and melt-downs. She’s a tornado when she gets like this, hurling random insults at others and herself, making threats to hurt others and herself, and unable to gather the reins in.

But who am I to judge? I’ve been following Jesse and Nick down the path of crazies. Instead of offering useful, mature parental guidance, I’ve been yelling at the kids every day for all their fighting and insanity. After nearly a decade, I still have limited reserves for dealing with Jesse when she detours into emotional oblivion. And Nick hurts too because I don’t have any reserves left for him. His sister uses them all up. I can’t tolerate his normal five-year-old shit with any equanimity lately. So I yell, I stomp and have hissy fits, and I complain about everything. I hate myself.

Rationally I know there are lots of reasons why Jesse’s negative behavior, which is rooted in her anxiety and self-loathing, is ratcheting up a million notches. Our house is a wreck because of the carpet ripping and floor refinishing; shit is in all the wrong places. We’re trying to get an even bigger renovation project going as well, and this is making Jesse feel very unsettled. Badger tests are next week. These standardized state-wide tests have no meaning to Jesse in terms of her development and potential, but they sure matter to public schools and their teachers, who make a big deal out of them. I keep telling Jesse they don’t matter, but she’s not buying my line; she’s totally stressed out about the testing. Last week we competed in tae kwon do tournaments, and Jesse (and I) sparred for the first time without adequate preparation. Major stressor. Next week is testing to advance to the next belt. Jesse’s birthday is next week, and for some reason she has a lot of anxiety about her birthdays. I think she’s expecting some sort of transmogrification to occur. “I’m ten today, Mommy! Look, I have wings now!” Or maybe she’s wishing, and preparing herself for the emptiness of another ordinary day. A teacher told her class that if it doesn’t rain soon, California is going to run out of water. She came home filled with trepidation about what’s going to happen to Grandma and Uncle Mark and Uncle Ted. Will they have water to drink?

So I get it. I understand why Jesse is emotionally in the red zone. But knowing that with my brain doesn’t make it any easier for my body and emotions to cope. Because Jesse is a terror when she gets like this, and our family is coming unhinged.

This morning Jesse woke up and started right in. She came to my bed and head butted me on the nose. When I told her to go back to her own room, the whining, ululating, and rage bursts started. Before I even made it to the bathroom to pee she had thrown her first real punches at me and screamed at me about (a) what an awful parent I am, and (b) what an awful child she is. She hit a clean emotional blow when she screeched that all I’ve been doing is yelling and screaming at her every day.

“Huh,” I thought to myself as I brushed my teeth. “That’s pretty accurate.” I made myself a promise, one I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of times before. I didn’t yell.

Eventually Jesse made it downstairs in a quieter mood, but instead of coming to breakfast she decided first she needed to finish her homework. I asked her to eat breakfast first, but she settled into her work instead with weird humming and moaning noises, which continued helplessly as Anthony tried to say good bye to her.

I dug deep and kept trying not to yell at the kids as the morning progressed. I snapped to be sure, but I didn’t descend into the crazies. I sent Jesse to her room a couple times for screaming insanely and picking on Nick. I ignored her best I could. And after she cleared her plates from breakfast (assisted by some snapping from me because she was definitely going to break something with all the slamming going on), she disappeared for a good long while.

After washing dishes and pouring another cup of coffee, I settled on the sofa and stared glumly out the window into the spectacularly beautiful woods in our back yard. Nick, who was in pacifist mode, played quietly by himself. A few minutes passed, and then Jesse came tip-toeing down the stairs, dressed and ready for school. She settled silently onto my lap for a snuggle, without a word. There we sat, an emotionally broken woman and her equally lost daughter, holding each other like lifelines. I continued to stare out the window, preparing myself for whatever Jesse might throw at me. But all she threw was a glance up at my face. I could tell out of my peripheral vision that there were question marks and longing in it.

So we sat a moment, and then Nick came over and snuggled in. And there we sat in silence, Jesse on my lap with her head on my left shoulder, and Nick pushed in against me with my right arm wrapped around his still-tiny body.

So we sat a moment, and then our diminutive dog came down the stairs and joined us. Madeline sat her fluffy six-pound self down on my tummy, and still we sat quietly, enjoying our mutual company in silence. Love blossomed up around us. In that moment, it was enough to crowd out those awful weeds of anxiety and self-loathing, the stupid bickering and fighting that inevitably accompany a life shared in minutiae.

If you saw us then, you would have said we were a picture-book family, a vision of joy and happiness. (Unless you had seen us about 45 minutes earlier as well. Whatever.)

So an ordinary day passed, and many good things happened. Anthony decided to come home early to be with Nick while I worked out. I realized later that he was just being excessively nice to me because he gets it — the kids have flayed me. After I picked the kids up from school, I dropped Nick off with Anthony and headed to the gym. Jesse’s swim team worked for an hour and a half and I worked out too. Jesse wanted to have dinner with just me at a park, so we picked up some carry-out and did that, enjoying a quiet meal under some trees without the noisome energy of Nick drowning us. I could tell Jesse was just trying to reconnect with me, trying to show me she deserves my love. I realized I was doing the same thing. It was all good, and we didn’t have to debrief any of the big issues that haunt us.

We got home and the peacefulness continued, except we saw that slightly depraved look in Anthony’s eyes that told us he had been alone with Nick for more than three hours. As we snuggled down in bed to watch an episode of Odd Squad, Anthony spoke out of the blue, with a sly smile on his face. “So Carla… Did you like my comments on your blog today?”

grumpy about Home Depot

I hate Home Depot. So I can’t explain why I called my local Home Depot this evening to find out if they carry a random orbital floor sander. The Home Depot website says I can rent one from locations that carry rental tools, and I really want to rent one to refinish the fir-like softwood floors we just exposed upstairs when we ripped out the wall-to-wall carpet.

Home Depot’s tool rental info page had a spot where I could enter my zip code and it would tell me which nearby locations had this particular sander in stock. But I was on my iPhone and here’s a news flash: the zip code widget didn’t work. Not to worry. I decided to just call the store. How long could it take them to tell me if they have a random orbital floor sander in stock for me to rent?

Here’s how the call went. More or less. It’s hard for me to remember all 33 minutes verbatim (my finger did not twitch and accidentally hit that number key twice), but I have the sequence of events exactly right:

Br-r-r-ringgg, br-r-r-ringggg.

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. If you know your party’s three-digit extension, please dial it now. Please listen to the following options, if you are trying to reach a department. For flooring, press one. For kitchen and bath, press two. For gardening and outdoors, press three. For lumber, please press four. For additional options, please press the star button.”

I press star.

“For electrical, press five. For plumbing and heating, press six. For windows and shutters, press seven. For tool rentals, press eight.”

AHA! I breath a sigh of relief and press 8.

Br-r-r-ringgg, br-r-r-ringggg. I count five rings. There’s a pause, and then two more rings.

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.” Eighties rock-style music kicks in with an emphatic, macho male voice overlay. He says all sorts of exciting stuff along the lines of, “you want to fix your house, and we want to help. LET’S DO THIS.” I’ve stumbled into a monster truck rally. It’s a repeating loop.

Click. “Hello, this is Mary. How can I help you?”

“I’m trying to find out if your store carries random orbital floor sanders that I can rent.”

“Oh, you need the rental department. One moment please.” Click.

Damn. I know exactly what she’s doing, but she moved so fast I didn’t have time to stop her. She’s transferring me back to the rental department.

Br-r-r-ringgg, br-r-r-ringggg. I count five rings. There’s a pause, and then two more rings.

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.” Rock-style music kicks in with macho male voice overlay saying stuff empathically along the lines of, “you want to fix your house, and we want to help. LET’S DO THIS.” Monster truck rally continues.

Click. “Hello, this is Mary. How can I help you?”

“Hi. It’s me again. Still trying to find out about the random orbital floor sander.”

She speaks cheerfully. “Oh, I’m sorry. I know they’re back there. They must not have picked up. Hold on.” Click.

DAMN. Too fast. I know exactly what she’s doing.

Br-r-r-ringgg, br-r-r-ringggg. I count five rings. There’s a pause, and then two more rings.

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.” Rock-style music kicks in with macho male voice overlay saying stuff empathically along the lines of, “you want to fix your house, and we want to help. LET’S DO THIS.”

I breathe.

Click. “Hello, this is John. How can I help you?”

This is new. I must have finally gotten through. “Hi John! I’ve been on hold a long time. I want to know if you carry random orbital floor sanders to rent.”

“Hold on, I’ll transfer you.” Click.


Five rings, pause, two rings.

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.” Rock-style music kicks in with macho male voice overlay saying stuff empathically along the lines of, “you want to fix your house, and we want to help. LET’S DO THIS.” 

I breathe some more. Also I groan and start pacing.

Click. “Hello, this is Melanie. How can I help you?”

I can’t hide my irritability. “Melanie. You’re the third person I’ve talked with. I just keep being transferred and put on hold. I think they’re trying to send me to the rental department. Who were they, and who are you? Where are you in the store?”

Melanie laughs. “I’m at the customer service desk, ma’am. What can I do for you?”

I grit my teeth and speak politely, because I know it’s not Melanie’s fault and I’m not irate yet. “I want to rent a random orbital floor sander. I’m trying to find out if you carry them in this store. My phone tells me I’ve been trying for 12 minutes. Please don’t just transfer me back to the rental department, because they’re not picking up.”

Melanie is relentlessly polite. “I’ll transfer you to a manager.”

Br-r-r-ringgg, br-r-r-ringggg. A gruff, rushed, and self-important sounding voice answers. But the man is not clear-spoken. “hewwo ths ess Brfs, wu cu I dfya.”

I can’t make out his name. It doesn’t matter. I figure out that he’s asked me what I need. I tell him.

“You need the rental department.”

“I know. They’re not picking up.”

“I know they’re there. They’re probably helping other customers. I’ll walk back there ma’am, with you on the line. Hold on.”

I wait. I continue to hear human sounds, and the macho man truck rally doesn’t come back on, so I’m happy. Sort of. The human sounds are muffled, as if the manager is holding the phone against his body as he walks, so I can tell he’s got a mobile piece. There’s a lot of talking, but I can’t tell if he’s talking to me, so every 20 or 30 seconds I say hopefully, “hello? Hello? Are you talking to me?” I can’t tell if I’m getting a reply, because all the noises are incoherent. After about 7 minutes of this (the iPhone call timer does not lie), suddenly there’s silence.

I wander into the kitchen and mutter to Anthony, who’s doing dishes. “I think he hung up on me.” Huh. But the iPhone doesn’t think the call has ended. I put the phone back up to my ear, just in time to hear…

“Thank you for calling Home Depot. All of our customer service representatives are currently helping other customers. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.” Rock-style music kicks in with macho male voice overlay saying stuff empathically along the lines of, “you want to fix your house, and we want to help. LET’S DO THIS.” 

Now I’m irate.

Click. “Hello, this is Melanie. How can I help you?”

“Hello Melanie. I’m back. I’m trying to rent a random orbital floor sander. You transferred me to the manager. I have no idea what he’s doing.”

“Oh. Did you speak with him?”

“Yeeees. He said he was walking to the rental department.”

“I’ll get him again for you.” Click.

BP meds kick into action on my end, stopping the stroke I can feel rising up in my brain.

The manager answers the phone again. I remind him who I am. He’s practically nonchalant, and this is when it all falls apart, in my mind at least.

“I’m sorry ma’am. I was helping a customer. What is it you need?”

“A random orbital floor sander! If you had been listening the first time we spoke, you would know that!”

He’s still nonchalant, and apparently indifferent to the fact that we’ve travelled this path before. “I’ll walk back to the rental department right now.”

“That’s what you said you were doing last time I spoke with you! What were you actually doing??”

“Ma’am, a customer on the floor needed help. I stopped to help that customer.”

“With me on the line? What am I?? Aren’t I a customer??”

“Ma’am,” he says suavely, as though he’s explaining to me how to wipe my ass, “I had to help the customer.”

My decibels are rising now as I sass back at him. “You could have at least told me! I was just waiting on this line listening to you help another customer?? No wonder your staff act like this!! WHY DIDN’T YOU AT LEAST TELL ME?? YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. YOU’RE HOME DEPOT. I’ve been listening to your stupid macho man recording tell me over and over again that LET’S DO THIS!! Are you gonna DO THIS??? COME ON! YOU CAN DO BETTER!! YOU’RE THE HOME DEPOT!!!”

And so on. Manager maintains his dignity. He finds the rental department and we settle down to business. Then it goes wrong in a whole new way.

“Do you want the sander with a round sanding pad or a square sanding pad?”


I don’t know what to say, so I reply as clearly as I know how. “I don’t know what the pads look like. I know I found the product on your website. It’s called a random orbital floor sander.”

We go back and forth in a completely senseless conversation that I can’t even repeat here, because I can’t remember it clearly. It’s like we’re speaking different languages, but eventually I decide the manager is trying to unload a drum sander on me. But it’s really hard to tell. What IS clear is that the manager is full of shit and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’ve completely lost it by now (though I’m not yelling anymore, yay for therapy!), so I speak in my best suave and didactic voice, as though I’m explaining to him how to pick his nose. “There’s a drum sander, which is too aggressive because I have soft wood. There’s a buffer, which is too light because it’s really just for touching up floors. And then there’s the random orbital floor sander, which is just right in the middle. I don’t want a buffer, I don’t want a drum sander, I want to rent a RANDOM ORBITAL FLOOR SANDER. It’s sort of TRIANGULAR. Do you have something that’s TRIANGULAR?”

There’s a long moment of silence.

“We don’t have it in stock tonight.”

“You don’t carry it?”

“No, we definitely carry it! It’s just been rented out.”

Yeah right. I try to hide my snickering and I end the call as fast as I can.

I hate Home Depot.