Thursday, July 06, 2006

The New Job, The Pancakes and The Bloody Long Island Rail Road

So, yesterday Mrs Stevie began her new job, leaving the one she has held for lo these many years for greener, or at least, more pastel shaded pastures. This meant that she was quite nervous, and she rose at around 4:30am for her inaugural cup of Espresso Grande waking the entire household in the process.

I managed to remain in bed until my more accustomed 7 am by dint of extreme bloody mindedness, and rose to find hostilities 'twixt Mrs Stevie and the Stevieling well underway with much screaming, gnashing of teeth, name-calling and so forth very much the order of the day. The Stevieling was also joining in the badinage. The basic diplomatic sticking point between them revolved around the Stevieling's desire to dawdle over her pancakes and Mrs Stevie's desire to leave this minute for her new job lest she be a couple of minutes late. I decided to derail any further internecine warfare by offering to ferry the Stevieling to her grandparents (from where she embarks for the trip to the music camp she is attending all summer) rather than allow the good neighbours of La Chateau Stevie to witness the fun, despite the fact that this would definitely cause me to miss my train and make me a minimum of twenty minutes late for work. Mrs Stevie snarled something that approximated to agreement and left, the Stevieling eventually finished her flat batter puddings and was driven to her grandparents and I arrived at Wyandanch station just as the rain began to fall.

It was all proceeding rather along predicted lines until we reached Mineola (named after a long-unavailable miniature electronic keyboard) where the train stopped and an announcement was made to the effect that we had a medical emergency on board and the train was being held indefinitely until assistance could be rendered.

The announcement was repeated every five minutes as the rain steadily increased in volume and force.

After the third time I stood up and yelled "Look, this is stupid. We are two hundred feet from Winthrop hospital! Let's get four hefty guys and carry the poor sod to the Emergency Room!" This suggestion was brutally snubbed in favour of an alternate plan. The conductor told everyone that they could cross the tracks and board a train that would arrive "soon". Everyone around me began the "I think we should do it. Should we do it? I'm going to. Are you?" chant with me slipping in the occasional "No" when called upon to respond to the catechism. About ninety percent of the passengers disembarked into monsoon conditions and I snuggled down in my suddenly palatial-width seating. The train arrived. It was a double-decker and was packed so full of people that it looked like some student stunt from the 1930's. No-one was getting on it from what I could see. At which point the conductor says "we're moving" and prompts a stampede of soaking wet would-be passengers back into the train they had abandoned five minutes before, lured by the lorelei promise of "another train".

We eventually made Jamaica station, only to have to wait for another train parked in front of us to move. Apparently, our train was not expected to actually arrive there and so no-one had cleared a track for it. I changed trains and we proceeded to Brooklyn as the heavens showed us a thing or two in the line of deluges of biblical proportions. I viewed this increasingly inclement weather with a jaundiced eye, partly because I have jaundice but mostly because my anti-rain protection consisted of an "outback" style Aussie fedora, shirt and light slacks. Had I planned for such weather I would have traded that outfit for a diving helmet, oilskins, waders and a canoe.

I arrived at work late and so wet I would honestly have been drier if I had leapt into the Hudson River. I contemplated putting my shirt into the microwave for a few seconds, but reflected that with my luck running the way it was I would probably end up melting the buttons and setting it on fire. As it was it dried out, mostly, by lunchtime, at which point someone tipped half a cup of coffee over it so I had to wet it down again to remove the stains. Thus I arrived home that evening wrinkled like a prune on account of having not dried out for eight and a half hours.

I wandered round to the swimming pool, still sporting its winter cover that I had deployed on July 4th in order to prevent a repeat of last year's fiasco-a-la-Joe1, only to find said cover now contained about 25 gallons of rainwater which would have to be drained in order for me to remove the cover and let the sun get at the solar one underneath it. Failure to do that would of course provoke one of Mrs Stevie's "turns" so out came Mr Siphon pipe2 and the process of draining it off began. It took only about five minutes to maneuver the cover so that a single, deep pool of rainwater was formed that could be easily drained3 and to siphon the water out of the cover and onto my legs and feet. Fortunately they had just about dried out from breakfast time and so my sneakers were able to contain a couple of pints that would otherwise have drained uselessly away into the (waterlogged) ground.

With the solar cover now exposed, several goals could be met: a) the sun could warm the top three inches of water and trick Mrs Stevie into thinking the pool was "warm", 2) any further rain would go into the pool (as opposed to into the ground thence into my basement) and replace the three inches of water splashed out of it by bloody kids over the weekend and γ) nothing else that springs to mind. Fortunately I still had the presence of mind to remember to ask Mrs Stevie how her day went. She, following some feminine instinct, knew better than to ask me about mine and simply sniggered humorously as I squelched around looking for fresh clothes. I finally donned a pair of swimming trunks. Ironically, they were the only clean, dry pants I had by then.

1: Yet to be told. Watch this space.
2: An old segment of filter pump hose that had been hit with Mr Lawnmower once too often. 2 ½ feet long and an inch in diameter, I keep it around to hoover out the crap that dumps into the skimmer every time I pull the filter for cleaning. It siphons very strongly on account of the sheer volume of water that can be sucked through it every second.
3: If you have never tried to remove a water-filled pool cover, consider the weight of a full-to-the-brim five gallon  Home Despot  Orange "Homer" Bucket. Then consider the weight of four of them tied together. Then consider that the sidewalls of the pool are at nipple height. Then consider that the water is about eight inches below that. Reflect on the nature of moment arms and human arms. No, wait. Forget all that. Just take it from me that it cannot be done.

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