Friday, August 14, 2009

How to Bleed Money Out the Wazoo: Prt. I

  1. Decide that the people who are going to rent your house for ten months should have a better house than the one you’ve lived in for the last seven years.
  2. Choose a number of random improvements that have nothing to do with anything and probably won’t make a difference for someone who’s never seen the place before—e.g., powerwash the deck; re-enamel the downstairs sink, replace the hidden gutters, replace random fabric blinds throughout the house with expensive, custom-cut wooden ones.
  3. Wait until three weeks before you leave, for no other reason than that you’re lazy, stupid, and busy with your friggin’ blog.
  4. Frantically call painters, re-enamelers (that’s a real word), gutterers (ditto), and blinderer makerers (don’t even ask). 
  5. Get estimates from the three people who actually return your calls.  I don’t mean the three people for each job, I mean the three people total.  And yes, this means you effectively get an estimate for custom blinds from a guy who has spent his life laying tin roofs and gutters.  (“No problem!  Coupla itty-bitty bits a wood, some string—a two-year-old could do it.”)
  6. Choose the best price for each job, even if the bidder is missing seven (visible) teeth and insists on calling you Chuck.
  7. Sign a contract with said gap-toothed enameler etc., even if every particle of commonsense in your body is screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
  8. Pay half down. 
  9. Go back to your house and drink heavily.
  10. Wait two weeks, wondering why some guy with no teeth, half your money, and a “Party Like She’s Seventeen!” bumper sticker on his pick up is a no show.
  11. Call said enamalerer/painterer/whateverer.
  12. Call again.
  13. Call the police when, at 3 am the night before you leave, you and the rest of the neighborhood awaken to the sounds of breaking glass, stamping on the roof, and Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil.”
  14. Scream “What the f***?” at the roofer and his crew as they pound away at your gutters under the glare of Klieg lights being run off a throbbing gas-operated generator.
  15. Try and ignore the glare of your neighbors and the two or three policemen who have shown up, you now realize, simply to enjoy the show, as your roofer grins down at you and hollers “Git ‘er done!”
  16. Remind yourself that you’re doing all of this—letting people you’ve never met live in your house for half your mortgage, paying thousands of dollars to touch up paint that will be ruined before you return, taking unpaid leave from your job, tearing your family away from their friends and taking them to the opposite side of the planet, exposing all your foibles and eccentricities to people who already think Americans are jerks—you’re doing all of this for the sole purpose of never again hearing the phrase “Git ‘er done!”

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