Unbelievable. My second vinyl fake wood floor is letting go of the subfloor again, and I am getting perturbed, which is a combination of per(fume) and turb(ulent), i.e., turbulent smelling, in the Australian dialect, “Crikey Mate, don’t maaahke may explaaain.” I am mystified yet again why flooring adhesive that is universally accepted by other subfloors and composite vinyl floor products refused to bond in my office hallway. It’s not in vitro fertilization here. It’s basically just a big peanut butter sandwich on the floor… but the peanut butter is mysteriously disintegrating. What?>>>??

I imagine the chipper sales guy at the big flooring store is going to have to get tough and throw down on this one. He was quite accommodating on the first floor failure, a regular Guy Smiley. “Hey, it happens now and then. Chet probably didn’t let the glue set up long enough. We all make mistakes. Sorry about the inconvenience.” I’m thinking that this time it won’t go as gently and he will have to blame the customer for crimes against plywood substrates or something just as ludicrous. He’ll probably send out his fixer dude, like the Mafia does, to clean up messes with a lot of bleach.

“Hi, Lawrenc Proctor, from CSI… ” chews audibly on spearmint gum, “Customer Service Intervention. Friends call me Larrrrry. Enemies don’t call.  Heh, heh. After  a cursorory inspection, I can see clearly that your building has excess moisture and/or vapors that seep into our very reliable products. Bottom line is this: the failure of the adhesive to bond is exclusively on your side of the equation, my man. See, my company has paid two unrelated guys to install quality flooring twice already. We can’t go three.” Demonstrates with fingers next to a menacing face.

Continues, “Makes me wonder if we don’t have Munchausen’s vinyl floor syndrome. Ever hear of it? Only known cure is full exposure to the light of truth.”

“I’m aware of Munchausen’s Disorder and Munchausen’s by proxy. Both involve the  factitious presentation of illness in order to gain unjustified attention from high status medical personnel. What on earth does that have to do with your flooring not sticking twice?”

“I think you do know what’s up, Doc. I am a doctor too, in a manner of speaking. Floor doctor.  Flooring people are drawn to my aura like moths to flame.  But the flame is hot, let me tell you.”

Whipping around dramatically with a finger in my face, “Did you spray a silicone product on your floor prior to the first installation. You installed the subfloor, right?”

“No! I mean, Yes! I did install the subfloor, but your own installer actually complimented my subflooring installation. I know in my spleen that’s not the problem. No, I did not spray anything on it. Besides, why would I sabotage my own floor for which I paid your imbecilic company $800?”

“Simple: Attention. You work alone all day. I’m sure it gets hard and lonely at times, huh Buddy? You’d like to hang out with the big dogs, right?  Maybe write your own blog. I get it… but there are healthier ways to relate to flooring professionals. You could go to the annual conference in Rochester, just for starters.”

“I can’t believe this. Don’t start patronizing me, Larry. You are welcome to inspect my subfloor after you remove your second sucky vinyl floor application. Munchausen’s!! Unbelievable!”

“Lemme tell you why that’s not going to happen. I believe you know that the silicone would have been absorbed in the first layer of vinyl and left a residue that polluted the seal of the second. You are good, Mr. Burrito. Crazy good, leaving no evidence except the faint scent of WD40, which I detected as soon as I reached the top step here. Ahh, yes, the almost perfect flooring deception. You nearly pulled it off.”

“I’m willing to grant that one of us is insane, but I’m not surrendering to that label just yet, okay? Ever hear of Lawsuit Syndrome? It happens when a jerk contractor  defrauds his customer and tries to slink away from contractual obligations and product warrantees. It’s only known cure is expensive litigation in court.”

“Now, let’s not get testy here, sir. No need to get upset. I’m sure our regional manager can help you reach resolution to your problem. He’s in our Harrisburg office, next to the state hospital, and I ‘m sure he’d be glad to meet you up there or at the coffee shop of the hospital, just off Second Street and Chestnut.”

“No. You are not going to pawn me off onto someone else who lies better than you do. What is he? A floor surgeon or a floor psychiatrist? Here’s what’s gonna happen:  You are going to replace my floor and get it right or else refund my money and I’ll have a competent floor installer do the job. Or we can do this in court over an expensive lawsuit with court costs that you will pay. This is not my first rodeo with a bad business dude.”

“Are you threatening me? You need to know that I have a permit to carry and discharge a 50,000 volt Tazer. If I were you, I’d stop resisting.”

“Okay, that’s it! I’m calling the police. And I need to warn you that I am carrying idiot spray, also known as bug and hornet foaming pesticide. I can accurately shoot a disabling jet stream within a two inch target radius from 22 feet, Larry. Draw!!”

Before the crackles and zaps of Larry Tazer even began to sputter, I had hit him with a liquid ounce of Spectracide Wasp and Hornet spray at the bridge of his nose. Predictably he began to gasp and cry that he was blinded and could not breathe. I grabbed him by his ear and he begged for mercy. “Take me to the hospital, man, for the love of God!”

I told him to take a message back to his boss– “Larry Proctor does not sleep with the fishes… yet. Don’t send fools to do a wise guy’s work.”

Baron Burrito von Munchausen



304. Wrestling Pythons

There is a cop in the alley behind the church, across from the drive up bank, tucked in at an angle where he can see the parking lot without attracting too much attention. Why?  Maybe speeders in the cut through alley; maybe a bank robbery. (Who robs a drive through bank? “Could you give me that in two tubes of twenties?  Thanks. Uh and a lollipop for my kid.”) Oh, how about a drug deal in the parking lot? I think I’ve witnessed one or two between a guy on a bicycle pulling up to an Escalade. They didn’t seem to go together for any good reason I could think of. Cop pulls out– nothing but powdered sugar left behind his acceleration. Gone. Nothing!! I had front row seats for action that vaporized… a pregnant rain cloud that broke into dry steam. Crap! I have to face real work now, calling insurance companies and faxing stuff. But wait…

Oh, good, the floor guys are here today for some distraction before my haircut at 11:30. They have already peeled off the vinyl fake wood floor that bubbled up on me after months of trying to get someone to lay it. In mere minutes these three guys have wrestled a vinyl python into submission.

It is now a fake wood floor covering, but I think of it as a flayed python skin glued onto the subfloor. My hyper-fertile imagination takes over…

“Yes, I bagged this bugger in the Amazon Basin in 2004. Had me in his coils, so he did, alone beneath an enormous Brazilian old growth mahogany tree I was admiring. Before I knew it, he was squeezing tight as a bad vice while I exhaled. Panic began to fill my over pressurized frame.

Climber Pocket Knife (Red)Then I remembered my all purpose utility tool attached to my belt. Fortunately my hands were at belt level and I could manipulate my fingers to open the tool for the grill brush attachment. As it popped open I felt a reassuring thud against the belly of the mammoth beast. I knew I had engaged the brush and began to wiggle it against the pale scales of the muscular monstrosity. Eyeball to eyeball we faced one another, its flickering tongue tasting the salty sweat of my fearless face. My training told me that when a constrictor savors its victim, the next step is opening the jaw for the one piece gorging which follows. I stared into his soulless eyes.

“That’s when I heard a whisper of a breath of hope. The beast’s belly convulsed and the serpent tried not to giggle or show any weakness. I kept methodically wiggling the grill brush, and then it happened. The leviathan laughed out loud with breath that reeked of gastrointestinal decay and putrefaction. With each helpless giggle I felt it loosen its grip on me. I prodded harder with the grill brush against one of its twenty or so sternums. Now I saw fear in the serpent’s vertical pupils. It knew that I had not just one upper hand but two. I grabbed the slippery slitherer by its meaty throat with my left hand, never stopping the tickling with my grill brush. ‘Who’s laughing now?’ I whispered to the once cocky worm.

“When it was completely helpless and recoiled by laughter, I switched the utility tool to its filet knife attachment and proceeded to surgically separate the beast from its scaly hide. Twenty two feet of snakeskin without a drop of blood involved. With a final flourish I snapped the snake’s entire bulkiness out of the souvenir skin. It wriggled away– naked, afraid, and defeated. Oddly pink as if sunburned in this rain forest. ‘He won’t last long in this jungle’, I muttered to no one. Meanwhile I rolled up the hide into a neat tube for office flooring.”

Now I am fully aware that none of this ever happened to anyone at any level of society or at any point in history. But such limitations do not disturb or even challenge me. I plod on against the boredom of the moment as the flooring guys make remarkable progress mere feet from my laptop. They have cut the vinyl beast precisely to fit my S-shaped hallway in the time it took me to fantasize about snake wrestling and fileting. Now they are carefully gluing down the coveted skin. It’s a ticklish process, to be sure. I thank the Lord for my Belgium made utility tool as I watch them cut and paste the complicated vinyl edges. Yes, it’s good to be alive.

Reality, however, is not all that sexy, folks, let’s face it. Some days just don’t pass the excitement test. Elvis, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Jimi Hendrix… all dead and gone. So it’s up to me to juice up reality. If speeders won’t speed, and robbers won’t rob, and dealers won’t deal,  I need to create an alternate universe where entertaining things do happen. In my world flooring contractors show up with a wild serpent in a tube. Otherwise I’d die of ennui, which looks like emu from a distance. Now there’s a thought, the mighty Emu rushed out of the bush with murderous intent, drawn like a religious fanatic to my orange towel as I shaved in the early Australian dawn…