This post originally appeared in the November 26, 2008, edition of The Smith Mountain Eagle.
Howdy! Ida B. Peevish coming at you from Ida’s Salon of Beauty & Live Bait Shop in the heart of downtown Rock Bottom US of A, where we running our Thanksgiving “Hair for the Holidays” special, because we know y’all got lots of company coming for dinner and you naturally want to look better than them. Now lessee what we got in the mail:
Dear Ida B. I don’t generally leave Rock Bottom, but my wife’s truck needed a new transmission after only 270,000 miles and, what with Rock Bottom Transmissions R Y’all gone out of business, I figured I better go to the big city and get her one so I could get my own truck back. Well, not having access to my own truck since my wife was using it and hating to drive where there is hills (unlike Rock Bottom where everything is flat), I asked Bubba Joe and DeeWayne to go with me to Big Mall City. Since Bubba Joe’s truck has the most legible “Farm Use” tag, he got to drive. Once we got the passenger door wired shut so we wouldn’t fall out, we was good to go.
Anyhow, we was tooling along the highway—Did you know them city folks drive like they were NASCAR drivers? Well, they do!—about 35 miles per hour, which is pushing it on account Bubba Joe’s truck generally can’t get above 25 mph without something shaking loose, when we come to the big city and we seen what looked to us like either a plane crash or a building had collapsed. We couldn’t tell what, but whatever it was didn’t have any windows broke and it had plenty of them. We figured we might be able to salvage something we could sell to defray the cost of the new slightly-used transmission I was going to get, so we turned off the speedway and drove near it.
Ida B, there was a powerful lot of folks milling around but none of them looked liked they’d got hurt by the crash or the collapse or whatever it was. They wasn’t even upset.
Well, Bubba Joe parked his truck in the middle of the road where there was plenty of room for other drivers to go around if they wanted, and we got out and went over to where a lot of folks were. I asked one guy, “Hey, Buddy, whatcha doing?” and he said they were looking at Art. We couldn’t figure if this Art guy got hurt or what, so we pushed into the line and went in. We never did find him, but there was a lot of pictures on the wall. They didn’t have price tags, so we figured they might be free. They didn’t have any Elvis on velvet, but they had a few that might look good over the TV to hide the stain that happened the time I missed my spit-cup and that my wife still gives me grief for. So I pried one off the wall, and we left.
There was a policeman leaving a note on the truck window, which I thought was a real neighborly thing to do, but we didn’t have time to stop and chat. We barely made it to pick up the transmission before the place closed so as it was.
My wife was real thrilled with the picture, too. But Ida B, we never did figure out what happened to that building or airplane or whatever it was. Can you clue us in?—Big Earl
Dear Big E. From what folks tell me, it was a museum that you saw and it was supposed to look that way because it is art. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Also, you better give that picture back. I hope your wife hasn’t got attached to it. Here’s a hint to help with that wall stain. Just duct tape a frame around it and pretend it is a unique piece of art. Likely your guests will not know the difference.
Dear Ida B. I am a heavy equipment operator, and not long ago I got some work out at Slick Water Lake from one of them out-of-town developers. I thought I was doing good when he didn’t even hesitate at the price I quoted him (the standard Rock Bottom price plus the added 150% fee for outsiders). Granted the phone connection wasn’t too good when I talked to him, but I thought I understood him pretty well. He told me to go over the whole place and I told him I could do that. Anyhow, I went out to the lake and proceeded to scrape the whole place as flat as I could. It was tough going on account of a lot of big rocks. I even scraped off a bunch of spindly pines that never would amount to anything. Come to find out, now he refuses pay me. He said he contracted me for landSCAPING, not landSCRAPING, and he meant for all them hills and little pines and big rocks to stay. He says I owe him for all the damage I done. Ida B., I improved his development. Now he has room to crowd in a whole bunch more over-priced condos. I figure he owes me a pile of money. What do you think?—Bull Dozer
Dear Bull-Headed: I think you better chalk this up to experience and not charge the man. Also, you might think about changing the name of your business as well as your own name just in case he tries to track you down.
Well, that’s it for this go-round. Remember, you get what you pay for, talk is cheap, and my advice is free.