Su Lum: Slumming
August 5, 2008
My friend Jack ripped out all the soaked flooring and plasterboard in my little shed and cleaned it out, my friend Hilary laid down rolls of sod, planted the vegetable garden and sowed wildflower and poppy seeds along the front walk, and, all of a sudden, my little miner’s shack doesn’t look like Boo Radley’s house anymore.
As we all know, one thing leads to another when you begin fixing up.
My friend Roger, who successfully tends my raspberry bushes, was extolling the virtues of a handyman who was currently building a set of cement stairs down to his art studio and said if I needed any work done, he’d sure recommend him: fast, good work and very reasonably priced.
Roger does not extol lightly. I said I needed someone to put up sufficient heat tape and gutters to keep my back porch from turning into a treacherous iceberg every winter, and the next day Ruben Giron arrived to assess the situation.
Originally from Guatemala, Ruben is friendly, cheerful, almost fluent in English and, with help from his assistant, Miguel, apparently can do anything. Ice floes? No problem. I asked about possibly painting my two sheds and replacing some of the rotted drywall, and maybe fixing the roof of the larger one. A snap.
The very next day Ruben and Miguel started working like beavers, ripping out plasterboard and scraping the sheds. On his own dime, Ruben bought the needed supplies on his way home downvalley (“Let me buy it, I get discount!”).
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He understood that I didn’t want a Taj Mahal project, called to consult about decisions, always told me when he’d arrive and let me know when he was leaving.
About a week earlier, the lights had gone out on the north side of my kitchen, and I had been gnashing about that but hadn’t taken any steps to fix it yet. I fell in love when I demonstrated the problem to Ruben, and he said, “I can fix it,” found some little broken thing under one of the switches, ran out to get the part and brought back the light.
Work progressed rapidly. The drywall went up, the paint went on (Ruben, of course, picked it up), the shed roof was fixed, a big piece of glass is going over the skylight on my porch (the previous glass had shattered into a pile of crystals several winters ago), the heat tape will (cross fingers) do the trick, all the debris was cleaned up and taken away, and I’m one happy camper.
Catch him between jobs at 274-1205.
P.S. – Ruben doesn’t know about this column, and I received no kickback for writing it.
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