Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Flattery in a Time of Hurricanes

Maybe there's something about Tuesday nights.  I have had some strange encounters these past two weeks.  If I was a character in a Flannery O'Connor short story, I'd have had a different ending (perhaps the writing prompt for which I've been yearning?).  But I'm me, unable to figure out how the story will end or if it has already ended or if there's anything there at all.

I came home early yesterday to be sure I was on time for the insurance adjuster, the next necessary step in filing a claim.  Of course, the adjustor was running late, but that was fine with me.  I prepared a statement of all of our losses and loaded photos onto a data stick that the adjustor could take with him.

I got a lot of grading done while I was waiting for him.  By the end of last night, I was finally caught up with my grading--and we'd had our visit from the adjustor.

As I sorted through the photos, I was reminded of all the damage--and as I showed the adjustor around, I was worried that he won't stress the damage.  But he has the pictures.

He kept telling me what a beautiful house I have and how he loves these old houses.  I felt a bit embarrassed about the disheveled state of the house but reminded myself that I haven't had electricity for a whole week yet, and I have been focused on other projects than the vacuuming and the food shopping and all the other tasks left to be done.

It was when he exclaimed about the beauty of our flat roof that the situation began to seem surreal.  He told me about other flat roofs he's seen, roofs with peeling paint and huge pools of water.  He said, "Your roof has clearly been cared for."

My spouse has spent days talking about how the whole thing will need to be replaced, how the elastomeric seal is trapping moisture.   I spent part of yesterday mopping up water from the roof leak over the laundry room.  And here is the insurance adjustor waxing euphoric about the state of the roof.

The adjustor finished up just as it got dark.  I thought about last week, as I sat on the porch, waiting for my spouse to come home from teaching, hoping that I would hear an FPL truck.

A pick-up drove slowly down the street--the guys inside looked like they might be looking for an address.  I went into the front yard and said, "Are you from FPL?"

In retrospect, it was stupid.  If I was a female character in almost any mainstream movie, I'd have just sealed my doom.

The guys said, "No, we're a tree service.  Do you need any work done?"

I said, "No.  I need my power restored."

The guy driving the truck said in a sultry way, "The power's on at my house."

His buddy shot him a look, and he said, "If you wanna come over and watch the kids or something."

It was awkward.  I thought of many things I could say, none of them quite Mae West enough.  Instead I said, "There's a lot of trees down a few blocks that way.  Maybe you'll find work there."

They drove off, and I spent a few minutes castigating myself for giving away too much information and leaving myself and the house vulnerable.  Luckily, I am not a character in a Flannery O'Connor short story.  I do not need to be taught a lesson about God's grace by suffering some horrible violence at the hands of everyday thugs and creeps.

I finished last night by watching the next episode of the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Vietnam documentary--we're up to the late 60's, to Nixon, to society unraveling.  It's not a peaceful way to end the day, as I see so many similarities to our own polarized time.  So far, I'm not learning a lot that I didn't already know, but it all feels important, and it's compelling storytelling/film making and so, I watch.

It seems a metaphor for much of life these days.

1 comment:

Franklin Stewart said...

A flat roof is really not the ideal roof type to have. Because it lacks the slope needed to drive water into the gutters, you'll eventually find pools and pockets of water on its surface, or worse within the decking. Your spouse is right about replacing the roof altogether. Consider having a gable-type roofing so you won't have to worry about leaks anymore.

Franklin Stewart @ Muller Exteriors