Now here is a holiday that the every day average Joe/Jane can wrap their arms around. A day set aside to honor them, their hard work, the sacrifices that they have made, the hours spent away from their families, the struggling to make ends meet. The missed ball games because their boss told them that they had to work overtime. It’s the end of another great summer one more good weekend to barbeque. While this day isn’t full of fireworks, parades or concerts in the park, quite frankly I can’t understand why not, it is just as important if not more as any of those that are. Where would this country of ours be without the workingman? I’ll tell ya, we’d be right where we were before the industrial revolution.
I would be remiss if I didn’t write something about this day, this holiday, this honored day, this great day… okay I might be getting a bit carried away just a bit, maybe just a little. A day that is generally marked by one last trip to… the lake, the river, the desert, or just to the backyard for one last blow out barbeque of summer. While summer is still with us for a few more weeks it for all intense purpose is over at the end of the weekend. The kids are all ready to go back to school in just a couple of days and you’re into the fall weather, whether or not you’re ready. Leaves are turning making you think of just how close winter is and how many things you promised yourself that you would do before the first snow fall, heck who are you kidding, you promised you’d do it before now. You spend the only holiday that is actually about you in a flurry of activity, because face it all the others are about someone else or something that; while important isn’t about you. For example, Christmas, we know why we have that and it isn’t for us, then there’s presidents day, memorial day that is about dead people and face it if you’re celebrating you ain’t one of them and on it goes until you reach this one day of the year that is all about you, me, and every Robbie and Rosie the riveter with a job.
You wake up on Friday morning and ask your spouse or significant other just what they want to do.
‘Well,’ they say, ‘we could get our friends over and have a barbeque on Sunday.’
You wince as you remember that she has been after you all summer to finish the patio/deck and you know that with everything a mess she wont let any of her friends come over and see what you still haven’t finished. But, you know if that patio isn’t finished it will be the talk of her circle when the girls all come over for the big Christmas bake-athon.
‘I suppose I could finish it on Saturday and it will be ready by Sunday afternoon.’ You tell her all the time knowing that there ain’t no way in the world that the eight by twenty foot slab of concrete you have to pour would be ready by Monday let alone Sunday.
Remembering a home improvement show you watched several years ago on the learning channel you change the concrete to paving stones or better yet you think, why not pieces of slate or field stone that would look nice.
Later on you find yourself out back, where your patio is supposed to have been two years ago, that’s how you know it will be the talk of her circle, in your bathrobe measuring to see just how much of the silly stuff you’ll need. Its not that it was the first time you ever measured it, its just that you never can remember where you put that dang piece of paper although you’d think that you could find any one of the ten or so from the times before, then again who has time to look. So you measure and then get ready to go to work, now you know that it’s not going to be easy to find everything you need to have for to finish your project in time for Monday, what you’re soon find out is that it is going to be even harder finding the help that you’ll need.
By quitting time you have made forty phone calls to various hardware stores looking for the material that you’ll need. You also spent six hours surfing on line at work looking for the plans to the deck/patio that you want. You printed out five different plans and cut them to the exact configuration to fit your house. Now it’s just a matter of calling your friends and trying to line up extra help so that you can be sure that you’re finished by Sunday. It should be an easy task or so you tell yourself after all none of them are supposed to be doing anything all weekend and since your wife has called all of their wives to invite them over for a barbeque on Sunday or was that going to be Monday. Either way you had way too many things to do by yourself before you can light that grill whichever day it is.
After your first three phone calls without any luck landing any help, you begin to think that there’s a conspiracy lining up against you. You call your wife again to make sure that you are calling the right people hoping that there’s a slim chance that she had given you the wrong list. She of course assures you that you have the right list and that all of their wives have insisted that their husbands were more than willing to come over on Saturday to help you finish the patio. With a grumble you head back to the phone and renew your search, after two hours of playing phone tag with the rest of those on your list you give up and begin to think that you never needed the help anyway.
On your way home you stop by the local hardware store, Home Depot, Loews, Wal-Mart, Bi-Mart, and finally Costco. Picking up or ordering for delivery the next day all of the things you have decided that you need. After which it becomes increasingly clear to you that there is no way on God’s little blue planet that you can do everything on the time table that you so painfully worked out just hours ago. Crossing your fingers you decide that it would be a good idea to get started after dinner or maybe even instead of having dinner. You pull into your driveway to find that your in-laws have decided to drop by, unexpectedly, or so you think, because you know your wife never once mentioned that they would be there. She will tell you for hours and hours that she told you on more than one occasion that her parents would be by for dinner or was that for the weekend. You mutter under your breath knowing that they will inevitably point out to you that your project was supposed to have been done two years ago, all the while offering no help unless of course you call getting in your way and telling you that when they did their patio they did it this way or that way. Suddenly you wish that you had taken that overseas job after all, at least this way you would know when they were coming by, it’s kind of hard to show up in a foreign country unannounced.
That night you skillfully avoid spending too much time outside knowing that if you do you will be pursued and hunted down by one of your in-laws wondering where you are. Not that you got anything done, but you did manage to move a few things out of the way and lay down an outline of where you plan your build. Just before mid-night you check the internet again to make sure that you didn’t forget anything that would stop your build. Crawling into bed your wife asks if you’re sure that you have enough help coming, you explain to her that you had not had any luck lining up the extra hands that you needed.
“I can get Daddy to help,” she whispers.
You just look at her and kiss her on the cheek before turning out the light. Then it starts, somewhere in your toes, that shiver that takes over your body every time the thought of him helping you comes up making your body shake uncontrollably for a good five minutes. At three in the morning you wake in a cold sweat at the thought of his help knowing what it would consist of. Why don’t you do it this way instead, when we did our patio we used different stuff, this isn’t the way I would have had it done. Around four you realize that the two and a half hours of sleep you just finished will be the only sleep you get. Slipping out of bed so as not to wake your wife you make your way to the kitchen, putting on some coffee you concede that it’s going to be a long day.
Once you have your coffee in hand you make your way to the back yard, grab your shovel and start working in the light of the one flood light that was aimed so carefully two years ago when it was put up. By daylight you have successfully cleared the same ground that you did two years ago. Not that it’s a huge accomplishment considering that it was already done once, you did change it a bit but not enough to make your two hours of work impressive. You manage to rearrange the stakes that were already in the ground and begin to run your leveling string before you father-in-law peeks out of the sliding glass door. You don’t see him but you know he’s there because you are shivering again.
After breakfast the stuff you ordered the night before begins to arrive. Lumber, cement, etcetera and by noon its all there and you have not accomplished anything else. With lunch your wife serves you the news that your father-in-law will be out to help you once he returns from seeing an old friend. With your wheelbarrow in hand you begin the process of building your patio and by dinner you’re surprised to find that you’re actually ahead of where you thought you’d be.
Your father-in-law returned just in time for dinner and with a sigh of relief from you he announces that tomorrow he and your mother-in-law will be going to a barbeque at his old friends home. You tell him that you are sorry that he wont be there to help you finish the patio but that you understand that old friends are important.
That night he looks over your design and your plan nods a few times and then tells you how he would do it and that you weren’t doing it exactly right. You nod your head and listen to him as he tell you how he would finish it off and be done by noon. Being polite you sip your drink and continue nodding as he drones on.
As you crawl into bed your muscles hurting you’re asleep before your head hit’s the pillow.
Waking late you curse yourself for not going to bed earlier knowing that you’d do just as you just did. The evil eye you get from your wife as you grumble toward the back yard your coffee cup in hand. It’s mid afternoon before you place your first patio stone looking over your shoulder you realize that there is no way that you can finish this. Your wife informs you that she needs to go to the store and pick up the food that you need for your barbeque. What does that have to do with you ask yourself as you tell her goodbye, just as you begin to remember that all that stuff you ordered is sitting in back of both vehicles. You let out a line of curses that would have caused your father to have cuffed you up side the head had he heard you. Moving everything to the back yard outs you even further behind. Figuring that you can’t get too much more done you decide to just pour the pad the you need for the fire pit that you want to build. At least you can have a good solid place to put the grill when everyone comes over tomorrow, and that’s when you discover that you only have half the cement that you need and you forgot to get the stone you needed.
So, to you my friends, enjoy the weekend, enjoy the day, wrap your arms around Labor Day, and kick back with your friends’ co-workers and loved ones. Raise your glass and toast the labor pool for if it were not for them this day would be just another two day late summer weekend. What’s that you say what about the barbeque and patio? The barbeque was great, of course none of your friends bothered to show up, but her friends did and the questions and ribbing have already begun. As for the patio, there’s always next year and you promise this time you’ll finish it before Labor Day. One things for sure it’s going to be a long, long winter.