The day Shoddy Powers pulled back his garage.
Shoddy Powers liked to chew tobacco. He got the idea when he was a kid watching baseball. Back then it was the, “in thing” for baseball players to chew tobacco and to spit. Anyway, Shoddy liked his tobacco, especially when he was working. He was a handyman, all right, always tinkering with this and with that, putting around in his garage or in his basement or wherever else he could wield a hammer or a pair of pliers or a screwdriver. But Shoddy was not averse to big projects, as I now shall relate.
Shoddy was our next door neighbor. Once, years ago, he embarked on something we said could never be done. Of that we were convinced. Shoddy, however, had other ideas.
He got the idea one summer day to move his garage; I kid you not. More specifically, his idea was to pull it back. Obviously this was no easy feat, but Shoddy was up to the task. First, he extended the footers approximately eight feet so that the garage would have something to slide onto. Of course, that was the easy part. The hard part was how to get the garage onto the new footer. For Shoddy it was no problem. He solved it with a hand winch. This is also known as a, “Come-Along.” Shoddy wrapped a strong cable (or perhaps it was a rope--I am not really sure) around the entire perimeter of the garage. Now it just so happened that, out back, there were two strong oak trees, and Shoddy wrapped the ends of the cable and the winch around the trees to give him, “pulling power.” That is to say when the cable was relatively tight, Shoddy began cranking the winch, and thus the cable tightened and tightened uniformly all around the garage. I'll tell you it was a sight to behold.
We all stood there in amazement, watching, until suddenly the garage started to move. Holy jump up and sit down! It was working. He was really doing it. Oh, but it wasn't completely problem free; the sides of the garage, roughly in the middle, began to bow inward. However, it was only a minor setback, a temporary hiccup, and not surprisingly, Shoddy was able to rectify the situation by means of a lever and basic “earthy” ingenuity. I say earthy because Shoddy was earthy; he was down to Earth. He didn’t have a lot of schooling, but he was innovative and ingenious. Nothing seemed to throw him. His only sign of irritation or major pique, from what I could see, was heartily spitting tobacco on occasion.
Well, after Shoddy took care of those side deflections, he continued winching the garage back inch by inch while we mere mortals stood in the dry, brown grass beneath the large limbs of the oak tree. We marveled at this engineering feat in a neighborhood where erecting a trellis for creeping ivy and clematis was cause for lemonade and minor fireworks.
Shoddy, a lanky and wiry chap in his mid-60s, continued the inch by inch “come along” with a relatively steady effort, although his breathing increased noticeably. During the entirety of the process, I made my way closer to Shoddy, although without realizing I was doing so. I suppose I should have kept my mouth shut, but to be honest, my enthusiasm got the better of me. So, I blurted out, “Go Shoddy!”
That’s all I said, and I thought it to be innocent enough. But the interruption was sufficient to cause Shoddy to lose his concentration, I guess, because he pivoted in one quick move and faced me directly. Moreover, due to him being startled (and I am sure that he was startled) a most manic reflex action occurred involving his throat, his mouth, and his lips. You probably guessed it. Yep, some tobacco juice was bestowed to me when Shoddy let go a hefty spit. I got it in the eye, and in the nose, and yes, even in the mouth. I have to say I did not like the taste.
Shoddy was red-faced and his eyes became eerily large as if to relay mortification. But there was also the slight hint among his drawn countenance of, “Why Oh why did you disturb me?” And that was fair enough. Life is full of lessons. Wiping tobacco juice from my face, I resolved to never again interrupt a tobacco-chewing, garage-moving, wiry man with a winch.