What started out as a stuck kitchen drawer turned into an entire kitchen renovation. (Warning: if you have a stuck drawer, don’t let anyone know about it. Never attempt to open it and your life will be much simpler)

I honestly don’t know how we got from “honey, this drawer needs attention” to “if you can’t fix it, I’ll have to call someone”. These are words no self-respecting husband cannot tolerate. It was more than a slippery slope, it was an icy sidewalk, and we were wearing glass slippers.

OK, a stuck kitchen drawer is a euphemism for any household ‘project’ that could have possibly been fixed by a well-meaning spouse or a qualified repair-person.

To prepare ourselves, we watched as many home make-over shows as we could although nothing was as easy in real life as it was through the magic of television editing. Did we expect a team of professional carpenters, electricians, and plumbers to pop out of the woodwork and perform miracles? No! Our learning curve was higher and scarier than Sheikra, the roller coaster at Busch Gardens.

Real life took on a surreal feel as the generally recognized rules of “I’ll fix or take care of that in this amount of time for this price” came to mean anything but. It was like expecting your phone provider to give you a bill you could understand.The last three months of our life seem longer than 4 years of high school and it’s not over yet. I’ve come to realize how a few of the more common terms are defined: For example: the estimate.

An electrician and a plumber can only give you a best-case scenario estimate on what something will cost. First ask if they have children in higher education or in need of dental work. That will tell you their motivation and pricing.

‘Best case scenario’ means it will only happen if not only hell freezes over, but creates an ice folly’s theme park with Mickey, Minnie and all of Snow White’s dwarfs dressed in bright pink tutus.

Running late, not the name of a tardy Indian companion. A contractor will arrive up to half an hour or more. A sub-contractor will show up when he’s ready. We dealt with a sub-contractor who agreed to do part of the work and he arrived with 2 people he contracted out with. They sub-contracted with someone who did the actual work. At this point the sub-sub-sub-contractor showed up so late it was the next day, late in the day. I’m told I was lucky.

Throw in a lack of language skills and it starts to be fun. This is where venting comes in, and that doesn’t mean expelling smoke and smells from the stovetop.

Venting at the workers does no good during the renovation because you don’t want to have to tear down a wall a year from now to find out that funky smell was a worker’s egg salad and sardine lunch carefully stashed behind the wallboard wrapped in a note addressed to ‘dear jerk…’

We moved into Green Acres meets the money pit. The best part of this house is the yard. Everything had been constructed wrong, piped wrong and electrified wrong. It was a living test kitchen for ‘Find 127 things wrong with this picture’.

Were there no codes when this place was built? I’m glad we didn’t find Jimmy Hoffa behind the old cabinets because we found every other bad situation there.

My house, built on an ever shifting and fragile water-based ecosystem that does not tolerate concrete easily, has shifted so much it can enter a twist contest and beat Chubby Checker.

I can visualize the end result of our labors as clearly as I can spot a great handy man. Yesterday my wife said, “I saw that a couple of tiles were loose in your bathroom floor; how about if we…..” I didn’t let her finish; I just ran screaming from the room.



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Buzz Fleischman is a Humorist and singer/songwriter of ‘irregular songs for regular people’ and a character actor who has appeared in and voiced TV commercials and radio. He currently hosts and produces the Joltradio.org interview show “On the Record and Off the Wall’. http://www.joltradio.org/artist/on-the-record-and-off-the-wall-with-buzz-fleischman Buzz was the humorist on the NPR affiliate WLRN for 12 years and has been a featured speaker for significant local and national conferences, conventions and organizations. He is a docent at the Curtiss Mansion and is fascinated by the history of Miami Springs and its interesting residents. http://www.theradiobuzz.com


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