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Sabbatical, 2004
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It’s our Pleasure to Serve you – Part Three

The Leaning Toolshed

October 2, 2006, cont’d...

What am I to do?  I can’t let the only sunny day I’ve got left go to waste!

So I decided to level the toolshed.

The toolshed is one of those ready-made backyard cabinets which you can buy at most big-box building supply stores.  It comes disassembled, and you put together the big plastic panels yourself.  I bought it two years ago, and shortly after it was put into place, it developed a pronounced tilt.  This was not really a surprise: there is absolutely no level ground anywhere around here, so, in order to make a flat surface for the thing I had to dig a cut in the hillside then cover it with gravel.  Fresh-dug earth and fresh-poured gravel is very likely to settle over time, and so it did.  Whenever I looked at the thing, I was bugged, because it had become like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

So I bought some more bags of gravel with the thought that maybe I could level it, should the rain ever stop.  Today – sunny and cool, and with me needing to be by the phone – might as well be the day to do the job!

First the shed had to be emptied.  Tools, paint tins, and a chest of drawers full of nails and screws and handyman essentials, all had to be carried into the cabin (I wasn’t going to leave them outside in case it rained again).  Then the shed itself was dismantled, and moved away.  Next I lugged the heavy bags of gravel to the site, opened them, and spread the gravel around.

Finicky measurement with a level followed, plus a lot of tramping down of the gravel, until everything was just right.  Finally, I re-assembled the shed, and put everything back!  Hey, presto!  A level toolshed!

Shed, leaning Shed, straightened
Shed, with tilt Straightened<

It was a couple of hours’ work.  All the while I did it, I listened for the phone.

Bell Canada did not call.

I ran over to Tim’s to see if they had managed to connect the line without contacting me.  No such luck.  So I ran back to my place (musn’t miss that call!).

What now?  I made and ate some lunch, and then went outside once more – this time to get the boat ramp ready.  If I couldn’t actually pull the boat out today, at least I could do all the preparatory work.  Mind you, this chore required me to be a little further from the cabin, so I took a cordless phone with me.  Testing it down there by the boat ramp, I got a dial tone, and knew it could receive a signal should the call come while I was working under the platform.

description of photo
The boat coming up the ramp in 2002
My boat ramp is a complex, Rube Goldberg kind of thing.  It consists of a rough platform of boards, with a wooden tongue that unfolds to make a 20 foot slide up which the boat can be towed by winch.  Once the boat is on the platform, and flipped over, the tongue can be retracted and folded away.  The whole thing rests on cement blocks - the kind used as footings for sun decks.

Those cement blocks had shifted over time, causing some of the legs to sit at awkward angles.  Other legs had popped out of their footings.  I had noticed all this some time ago, but the labour involved to fix it was likely to be so arduous that I kept putting it off.

Well, I had lots of energy, and the sun was shining, so I might as well set some of these things to rights.  So I crawled under the platform, dug around the concrete blocks, lifted and heaved and re-positioned them, straightening the legs.  Finally I deployed the heavy ramp.  All was in readiness for pulling out the boat, if only the telephone guy would come.

But the phone never rang, and the sun moved slowly down the sky.

Having worked up quite a lather, I took a shower (a cold, outdoor shower in October?  ‘invigorating’ is not quite the word for it!), with my cordless phone close at hand, ready.

No call.

So... I dialled 611 again.

“Welcome to Bell!  Bienvenue chez Bell!”

The mechanical voice still sounded warm and affectionate.  I was neither.

This is when I learned that you can interrupt the machine without listening to all the options.

After a human being came on the line, and after I had interrupted a stream of French to ask if we could transact this matter in English (why the computer would ask me for my choice of language then fail to indicate that choice to the “service representative,” remains a mystery), I naively thought that I could quickly explain the situation and ask whether the technician had run into a snag.  No such luck.

Even though I immediately specified that my problem involved a ‘party line’ and a special department, the service representative still felt obliged to take the number down, put me on hold (I now found the handful of hold music songs extremely irritating), look for the number himself, ask me if it was truly a Bell number, and, when I insisted (without shouting) that, yes, it was definitely a Bell number and a ‘party line’ and that I was already in the system somewhere, and that a technician was coming.... I was finally put on hold again (with more waiting), then transferred to another department.

Eventually someone actually found the file, and said, quite simply, “Your appointment has been rescheduled.”

“Rescheduled??!!!” I said, trying to keep my incredulity from being too loud, “Until when!?”

“Tomorrow, sir.”

“Have you got a note on the file we don’t have a lot of time?  If someone doesn’t come while I am here at the lake, he or she will have to walk in, along the powerlines, because there will be nobody here to grant ‘water access’ until next July!”

I probably also mentioned the irritation of waiting all day, unable to move far away from the phone, and that it would have been nice if someone had let me know that no technician would be coming today.

“Please understand,” I said, “That if your technician is not here by noon tomorrow, I must pull my boat out of the water.”

“I’ll do my best, sir.”

“And, tell me, just so I can be certain you have it, what contact number you have given the technician to call?”

“819-CON-TACT, sir”

“That is correct.  Thank you.  Tomorrow by noon.”

“I’ll do my best, sir.”

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