Here, There & Everywhere $

Last night our city withstood a terrible windstorm. Some homes fared better than others; ours are intact although a fence came down. No big deal, right? Wrong!

I live in a city. I don’t have access to post diggers, circular saws, or any other fence repairing/replacement tools. I also have no skills in that area. There was a time when I could count on the men in my family to instinctively know what needed to be done in any outdoor situation, but that’s no longer the case. These days I hire out. Hiring someone is not itself a panacea; you have to hire the RIGHT person with skills and integrity. Not an easy find. My go-to resource is usually Homestars.ca. There you can find all manner of trades and read their reviews too. And then yesterday my confidence in this site was compromised! It turns out that lots of people who post glowing reviews are not real customers. And the negative reviews are often not even posted. So there is another level of scrutiny I have to go through: now I have to pay attention to how many reviews a certain company has, to make sure they are real reviews. After all, who could falsify over 100 reviews? Don’t answer that rhetorical question.

Luckily we know a ‘fence guy’ who has done great work for us in the past. I texted him (all hail the mighty text!) and he called back quickly with an estimate and ability to send someone over today. But the price tag was too high for us, so Husband and I needed to find a different solution. It isn’t a matter of calling a neighbour to help us out; no one else around us knows what they’re doing either! The solution we came up with was to pay the fence guy to install a temporary fence for the winter. This will be done today, considerably cheaper than the option of completely replacing that side of the fence. And the debris will be cleared too. Used to be we had to get to know our neighbours and make friends in the community so we could pool our collective knowledge and help each other. Now we have to develop a roster of trustworthy tradespeople while surrounded by less skilled, less honest ones.

This past weekend I went to Alberta to attend my little bro’s wedding. He’s a plumber/steamfitter in a small town, so his life is very different from mine. I’ve always prided myself on my physical strength and ability to figure out how to ‘make do’. What a shock when I realized this weekend that I don’t remember how to do anything outside the usual house cleaning and very minor repair. Used to be I’d have confident support of men and women in my network around me, to help figure out a solution for whatever outdoor problem had arisen, but no one else around me now has that skill set either. Weird.

This weekend I remembered a lot of sights and smells of my childhood, which was incredibly comforting. I hadn’t realized how removed I am now from my roots. I work in an office, I have lily-white hands, I studied English Literature, I manipulate words. I occasionally pay others to do manual labour at my house. We had a new door installed a couple of weeks ago, by a handyman we know. Despite all of this evidence, I still believed I was a down-to-earth, can-do-it person. I mean, I can write the absolute shit out of a technical document or anything else sent my way. But that’s all so…intangible a skill set. My abilities seem so imaginary; made up, even. I know that’s not true, but compared to the skill of putting up a fence, I doubt I would survive very well in a post-apocalyptic world unless someone needs a written manifesto.

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