I decided to haul all of the building materials myself. Am I not a country boy? Can I not survive? If I can skin a buck and run a trot line I damn well can deliver a load of shingles!
Mrs. Curmudgeon (who had arrived independently in her own car) saw the writing on the wall, gave me a hug, and skipped out before things got too interesting. Wise woman. I’m sure she monitored the cell phone for the rest of the day; anticipating either a call from the emergency room or the police.
I’d ridden there in a contractor’s truck. (If it gets the job done well he will be elevated from “contractor” to “hero”.) While I’d been haggling over shingles he’d been picking out a bunch of dimension lumber. He showed up and shook his head sadly at the thought of delivery trucks which are unavailable. He too knows a society which lacks trucks and drivers is going to hell in a handbasket.
Together we went to the “yard” intending to pick up the load. We had his 3/4 ton Chevy. We were towing a car trailer which had been intended for just the lumber. I was optimistic the trailer would work with shingles too.
I learned something new that day.
Shingles are heavy.
Like the sodden and compressed soul of a politician, shingles sag toward the earth and crush anything in their path. I might as well have been stacking depleted uranium. You don’t know heavy until you’ve played with shingles.
A forklift put what looked like a tiny little load on the trailer. The truck sagged precipitously. I was worried.
“Dude, you’ve got to drop the trailer and leave it here. Let me come back with my dually.” It was a reasonable and cautious idea… therefore entirely unacceptable. Like all rednecks, my contractor wasn’t about to bail on a job simply because he was risking a busted axle.
“I got this.” He said.
I had my doubts. He looked worried too. The tires were smushed.
While we were eying the tires I watched a particularly dense forklift operator drop a bunch of 2″ x 6″ planks. (Which were neither 2″ nor 6″ in size because… shut up.) They almost hammered a little Honda SUV that was parked nearby. I sure was glad that forklift driver hadn’t been loading our trailer!
Returning to the tires (they resembled crushed marshmallows) I decided we were doomed.
“Are you sure.” I waved at the squatting truck, “you want to drive that?” He looked at the tires and whistled. Nothing good comes from an exploded sidewall.
Then he checked the pressure. “Does 20 pounds sound low to you?”
“Only if you want to live.” I responded. Soon the tires were pumped up to 50 pounds and things looked much better. Huzzah! We zigged and zagged down the road with questionable steering, low speeds, and brakes that weren’t up to the task. Surprisingly, we made it to my house in one piece.
This was about a third of the shingles. The majority remained back at the yard. Life is like that.
At my house we discovered that his Bobcat (which I lust after!) could lift no more than 15 “bundles” of shingles. We’d stacked it much taller than 15 bundles. The Bobcat did an epic pirouette. Luckily it didn’t face plant.
(For reasons only known to J Edgar Hoover and the Pope, shingles are sold by the “bundle” and estimated by the “square”. It takes 3 bundles to make one square which isn’t quite 100 square feet worth of material depending on the manufacturer as interpreted by the lunar cycle and the growth rings on barnacles found in the North Sea and… did I mention that those bastards shaved 1/32″ off my plywood? But I digress. I’m sure it makes sense if you’ve been punched in the skull.)
Manfully facing the inevitable, I shifted bundles by hand. Each one weighs about the same as a bag of feed and smells like burning money. Eventually we got them all off the trailer. (Did you know there are people who think “jazzersize” is hard work? They live on the same planet. Yeah I know. Me too.)
More in Part IV.