Saturday, July 29, 2006

My Sunday Feeling

The day job required that I spend 2 days in the air and 1 day in Long Island last week. We were supposed to have a 3 day hearing while we were there. But the other side and I worked out a tentative agreement on 3 of the 4 issues and have agreed to keep negotiating about how much money it is going to take to make this go away. So our hearing got put off pending the resolution of settlement negotiations and the next day I was headed back to the People's Republic of Hillcrest. Evidently, there was much activity in and around my neighborhood while I was gone.

This Old G#*&%$#* House: As you might recall, just before I left, I discovered an amusing gas leak that was wafting up from somewhere in my little eighty something year old house. After Centerpoint cut the meter off, the foreman for the plumbers came out to give me an estimate. After crawling around for a bit he told me, " This won't be any kind of a job at all. Maybe 5 hours tops. I think we can get you out of this for around $500"

In golf, we rarely give ourselves over to rosy predictions or even permit ourselves the faintest glimmer of hope lest we give offense to the Gods of Golf, who despite being otherwise distant as the stars, hear such pronouncements and punish them severely. There must be a corresponding deity for plumbing jobs as well because my little house was pimp slapped mightily by fate after the foreman aired these hopeful predictions.

By 3 o'clock last Friday, the plumber crawled out from under the house to tell me the happy news that everytime he tried to test the system he found a new leak. Not only that, he found a water leak that I didn't know anything about. Long story short: Cold showers for the weekend.

My excellent neighbor Betsy informed me that "it was quite a circus" over here last week with guys in and out of the house for the three days I was gone. Indeed, she called me on Tuesday with the amusing news that they had managed to set the alarm off despite me giving the foreman the security code.

They forgot.

The bottom line is that my little 5 hour job, having been cursed by the Gods of Plumbing, turned into a 3 day job, I will get a citation from the City of Little Rock because they had to send a policeman over when the alarm went off and I will be presented with a bill considerably heftier than the 500 buck number I was quoted originally.

But at least I can take take a hot shower now and could light a cigar (if I still smoked cigars) without fear of blowing myself to bits.

I'll let you know if it was all worth it after I get the bill.

Welcome to Little Rock: My cell phone got quite a workout Tuesday. The plumbers called me with their grim "progress" reports. Betsy called to tell me that they had set off the alarm. The church called me. They heard the alarm all the way over on Woodlawn and were making sure that I was ok.

And then J called to tell me about some guy who had beaten a couple of people with a section of rebar while they were trying to eat lunch at Leo's about 5 blocks from here. Seems these folks were in town from Oregon to visit a relative who lives around here and had decided to eat lunch outside at Leo's when this damned fool appeared out of nowhere with the aforementioned rebar, accused them of being "white devils" who were carrying on with his wife and proceeded to beat the living hell out of them. Welcome to Little Rock!

I might have mentioned in passing that we have something of a problem with violent crime in our fair city. Indeed, they were forced to release this idiot last week because they didn't have room to hold him on the "failure-to-appear" warrant they picked him up on. Well, he's locked up now pending a trip to the forensics unit for a mental status exam. That's for sure. It's just too bad that he had to injure somebody before he was taken off the street.

We like to think of ourselves as immune from such ruffians around here. We sometimes act like the problems of society here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. This episode is a reminder that we are not.

It was not too long ago that I was joined on a walk by a gentleman who hooked up with me from a side street. He seemed normal enough until, out-of-the-blue, he informed me that his attorney was Houston's Racehorse Haynes and that Haynes had gotten him acquitted of a rape charge down there. It got even crazier after that.

" You ever hear of Jeff Bagwell?" he asked.

" The one that plays for the Astros? Sure. Why?" I asked.

" Friend of mine. Took an interest in my case. Paid for my lawyer."

" Jeff Bagwell paid for Racehorse Haynes to defend you."

" Yeah. That's what I'm sayin'."

" I seeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

Clearly a loon. I told him that while I would love to chat further, that I needed to go home. He accepted that explanation and I took my leave.

The point is: We can't pretend that we are our own little Switzerland around here where we get to claim diplomatic immunity from society's ills. The cops have got their hands full with violent offenders. The nuts and the riff-raff are going to be turned back on the streets. And some of them are going to make their way over here.

Until we get more jail space, that's just the way it is.

I am glad to be home. I would like to go back to New York when I have more time and when I am not lugging two briefcases full of documents.

Maybe after I pay the plumbers.

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