Every once in a while I get requests for jobs that might seem a bit unusual.
No, they do not involve me installing skylights in shorts so my junk dangles over the new window like the worlds longest teabagging. Its more the difficulty of the job, like the guy that figured he needed industrial parking fence installed around the perimeter of his roof to prevent his cat from getting trapped in his eaves trough. Like the woman who wanted two different shingle colors in three-foot wide lines across a long ranch style bungalow.
The difficulty becomes even more prevalent when you factor in the job being on an island. As fun as it may seem to some people to have a home or cottage on an island, someone had to build the damn thing and I am willing to bet the echo of screamed profanity still echoes around the waters it sits in.
The job we were looking at was a huge six family cottage laid out in a wheel pattern of six small cottages joined in the middle by a giant hexagonal great room, It was impressive to see in the first place but what was more impressive was the fact it was built on the top of a rocky outcropping of an island that overlooked the water. There was a wooden staircase of over seventy steps that rose from the boat dock to a landing that presented the first look of the job as a castle atop a hill.
The oooooing and awwwwing can stop right now. The first thing we had to figure out was how we were not only going to get material up to the house but how we were going to get the garbage out. We looked at several ideas but the only one that really worked was renting a barge and literally hauling every ounce of new and old material up and down the stairs. Once the details of that were worked out with a local boat rental facility, we submitted a price to the cottage owner. I could literally feel my shoulders sag as he happily accepted the price without so much as a batted eye. He told me that of all the contractors he had called we were the only ones crazy enough to submit a bid on the job. Looking back, I should have charged him double.
We met the boat rental proprietor on the dock the first day of the job where he presented us with the chariot that would ferry us to the island. A barge that likely should have been retired before it took the cast of Gilligan’s Island on their three-hour tour sat listing in the shallow water. I felt like Luke Skywalker the first time he saw the Millenium Falcon. What a hunk of junk. The owner was all smiles as he started the engine and motioned we should start loading our gear on board. After we were loaded, my brother Dart and I hopped down into a little aluminum boat that would get us to the island before our dad and the rest of the team.
As we motored off we decided to have a bit of fun. We accelerated away from the barge and spun an ever increasingly tight spiral around the slow-moving vessel. In no time we were throwing massive waves at the team and soaking them and all their gear. We laughed our asses off as they began throwing nails and anything else at us they could. I think at one point a chunk of bologna from someones sandwich stuck to the side of the boat like a vagina colored barnacle.
The day was as miserable as you could imagine. We shuttled bundle upon bundle of shingles up the stairs and wheelbarrowed load after load of garbage and waste material down the stairs to be loaded on the boat. By midday, the barge was sitting ridiculously low in the water and we all eyed it speculatively hoping partially that it would sink right there and then.
As the day was winding down we realized we still had to unload the barge when we got back to the other shore. It caused almost all of our shoulders to sag as we looked at the small mountain of garbage awaiting us. Once again, the team loaded up with my dad piloting the barge as Dart and I sped ahead to get the truck down to the dock to unload into. We decided that soaking a boatload of guys that were headed home was a great way to end our day so we yet again began to slosh waves up onto the barge.
As we sped off, we looked back and noticed the guys on the barge were frantically throwing garbage at us and then when that failed to reach us they started throwing tools at us. It struck me as odd but I had no desire to have a hammer embedded in my skull so we quickly motored away only to hear….
“WOULD YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES GET BACK HERE!!!! WE’RE SINKING!!!”
Dart and I looked at each other briefly knowing we had likely slogged enough water up onto the boat to cause their current predicament. We pulled up beside them and grabbed as much gear as we could and pulled a couple of the guys and hauled them on board with us too. I have no Idea how many tools they had jettisoned to lessen the weight on the barge but from the look on my dad’s face it was likely a ton. The boat was barely out of the water as it was and our now overloaded boat wasn’t in much better shape.
Slowly we made our way to the dock thinking at any point we would sink but it was almost a blessing as we wouldn’t have to unload the barge. Yes, I know that’s not environmentally friendly but at that point I wouldn’t have cared if we sunk a Titanic made out of old McDonald’s styrofoam containers to avoid unloading that garbage and my fathers likely murderous wrath.
As we pulled up to the dock, my dad was just about to blast into me as he stepped towards the dock and missed completely. He dropped with a splash into knee-deep water and I couldn’t help it as I burst out in laughter.
” Fuck that captain goes down with the ship crap,” Dad growled at us from the water ” You two can take the barge tomorrow and swim home if you have to.”