Yesterday I was supposed to screen the floor and give it two coats of polyurethane and I would be done with the suite on Central Park West that I’d started on two Mondays ago.
I got up in the morning wishing I could just stay home and watch TV and just forget about it. I had reached my limit, my peak, I’d done everything I could and wanted to do no more. But I had agreed to do the floor and the guy was moving in this week. I said what I meant and I meant what I said, so…
When I had given the estimate to the guy’s wife, I’ll call her Sue, she asked about the floor. The floor looked pretty bad even in the low light of a Friday upper West Side evening, and I said “I don’t do floors,” despite the fact that I’d done one for a friend just last month. I’d done that one because the guy had a car and we’d gone to pick up the sander together and he’d paid for everything. All I had to do was the actual work.
“I don’t have a car or a sander,” I told Sue.
“Couldn’t you rent one and have it delivered?”
“They don’t deliver floor sanders, Mamm.”
She persisted, and I said I would ask a friend for a ride, maybe. We left it at that and I started work on Monday. For those who didn’t read my last post it was a lot more work than I’d bargained for or even made allowances for, I thought I could fix the place up in a couple of days, paint it in one, and sand the floor on Friday.
Yesterday was the second Friday, and it wasn’t till the day before that I’d actually finished painting.
I wasn’t able to secure a ride, and I called the guy from a car service that had driven me and my ladder to the job the first day. A local guy called Chicho. Don’t ask. Chicho agreed to meet me in front of Home Depot in the Bronx, and I got on the Bx 6 for the ride to River Avenue. I was lucky and caught the Bx 13 to Home Depot down River Avenue.
There was no one in the tool rental and a woman from another department agreed to help. I found the machine I needed, picked out 2 gallons of water-based polyurethane and the attendant supplies, applicator, sanding screens, etc. I checked out and dragged the 100-pound machine up the ramp to the street through the parking lot. I waited for Chicho and fought off entireties of “taxi, taxi” form all of the out of work guys who bring their vans and SUV’s to Home Depot everyday in hopes of making a buck.
“I already got somebody, thanks,” I would tell them. Chicho was a half hour late and more than once I wished I’d taken one of those rides.
Chicho drove me to 95th Street and agreed to pick me up at 4 PM, the time I had to be out. He charged me $30.
The porter took me up to the 13th floor and I got to work. I started patching some of the bigger gaps in the floor with plastic wood. The parquet floor tiles were loose, and I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get to every crack. I did the worst spots, and saw that I was right to suggest a screening, this was mostly the original 84-year-old floor and it really needed to be replaced. Any sanding and there would be nothing left to it.
I spot sanded a few tiles with an orbital sander and decided to start with the machine. It was after noon already and I wanted to get the first coat of poly on by 1.
When I stood up and put down the pad and screen I noticed that I had not taken the power cord to the machine.
This is the moment when a less mentally stable person runs to the window and throws it open and shouts, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” before going out the window like Woody Allen’s documentary subject in Manhattan. I love it when Woody Allen reads the suicide note, “I’ve gone out the window.”
I would have at least had a nice view of Central Park on the way down.
I felt like the biggest idiot in the world, how can you rent a machine like this and forget the power cord? I just wanted to quit, to walk away and just leave everything, call Sue and say, “find someone else.” But what I did do was put on my coat, get the paperwork from Home Depot and make my way to the D train to the Bronx. I got off near Yankee Stadium and checked my Bus Time app and saw that the next Bx 13 bus was 8 minutes away. I started up the hill to Home Depot a half-mile away.
I knew I would not be done today, so I called Sue’s husband, who is the one occupying the office in the first place. I asked if I could come back in the morning to put an additional coat down. He said OK and would meet me there in the morning to let me in.
I wondered if the Home Depot staff would believe me that I’d forgotten the cord, but the girl at the tool rental was pretty cool, “are you sure this is the right machine? The cords are different, you know.”
It was a three-prong cord and I pointed to what I thought was the machine I had. Luckily I chose right.
“That’s a $100 cord, don’t cut it on me,” the girl said.
“I promise not to cut it.”
The plan had been this, I would put down one coat of poly, and while that was drying I would take my Mile vacuum cleaner home on the subway and have lunch, go back by 3 PM to put down another coat and then take the car service back with the machine after I was done. This was out of the question now.
When I exited Home Depot a black man that was whittling a point onto a pencil with a big knife approached me.
“How much to 95th and CPW?”
“$15.” Just then I spotted a Hallal guy manning a lunch stand. I walked up to the stand with my new driver in tow. I agreed to the ride and ordered a chicken Gyro.
We waited silently for the Gyro, me with my big yellow cable slung over one shoulder and taxi driver whittling his pencil point as the Arab guy chopped, scrapped and built my Gyro.
“White sauce, mister?”
“Yes, please.” Taxi driver finished his point and handed the knife to the Hallal guy, who handed me my finished Gyro. I handed him $4 and we walked over to the guy’s car. I wondered if he would have charged me more if I had that big stupid machine with me.
He dropped me by the building, and I rode back up with Ralph the elevator porter.
“Almost.” Ralph has been taking me up and down every day for the past 2 weeks. He and the rest of the staff are eastern Europeans, a little nepotism at work. I know they are not Polish, I recognize Polish by listening to Danusia talk. I haven’t heard tak or dobra once, so I know they aren’t Polish. I suspect they are Serbs, but I didn’t ask.
I wolfed down my Gyro while staring at the park, I am going to miss the view. When I was done I attached the cord to the waiting machine and went to work.
When the three pads I bought were thoroughly trashed I was done. I vacuumed up, mopped the floor and emptied out the room. I put down the first coat of poly and was done at 3:40, just in time to change and go down to meet Chicho. He showed up a little after 4.
Today I showed up and met Rod; I’ll call him Rod, Sue’s husband. We went up to look at the suite and he was very pleased with the work.
“Sue had an accident, so I will have to take care of you, how did you leave the payment?”
“Well, we never really discussed it, but here is my invoice.”
“How do you want to be paid?”
“A check is fine,” I said. He agreed to come and meet me after I was done with a check. He left and I spent the next 2 hours putting down 2 more coats of poly and cleaning up. I called Rod when I was done and he met me in front of the building. He handed me a check for the amount I’d asked for, and added a very generous tip on top. He was very happy with my work. I was very happy too.