Oh yeah. Here it is…the moment you have all been waiting for…the funniest thing that ever happened in my life – #1.
What happened to number 3 and 2? Well, as you can clearly see, I have had a little trouble with motivation. I thought I would jump to number one and then follow up with the others later. Trust me, they are almost as funny.
You know the times when you just laugh and laugh? If it’s during dinner, you usually blow milk out of your nose. Yeah, I remember those times. They don’t roll around that often anymore, but when they do, they feel really good. If you get a stomach ache, even better.
Craig owns a tree service. He has probably run it for fifteen years. One of the main problems he has is finding good employees. Things are smoothing out now, but locating good workers has always been a tough hunt.
Early on, it was even harder. Sometimes a customer would call up and want a job done. Craig, being eager to please and equally as eager to make money, sometimes had some tough choices to make. Should he hire a full time professional, or…err…just get the job done. That’s where Rob and I came into play. Can you guess which choice we were? Yeah, we would bust on the scene and clean house.
Oh, how many times we have heard, “I will never work the two of you together again in my life.” Even that statement made me chuckle because I knew I would be standing in his driveway at 7AM the next morning, smelling the diesel burn, while his truck warmed up. In a few minutes Craig would walk out of the house and ask, “Where’s Robert?” I would say, “I don’t know.” “He’s in bed, that’s where he is. Let’s go get him,” Craig would say. I always knew Rob was awake and just running late, but I liked to make waves. For some twisted reason, I always got a kick out of watching Robert get yelled at by Craig. Craig was always yelling and Rob was always trying to explain his way out of it. I really wish you could meet these two guys.
This particular morning was a very nice one. It was summertime and it was a perfect day to work…warm enough in the morning, but cool enough not to sweat all that much. We had a small job to do in Westchester before lunch and then another one across from one of Westchester’s many reservoirs after.
There we were, sitting in Rob’s driveway, honking the horn. “This guy, I swear,” Craig said. “What’s up with Robert, anyway?” I was sitting there thinking to myself, “Why do you call him Robert?” A few moments passed and Rob flew out of the basement door and ran towards the truck. Craig couldn’t stay mad at Rob for too long. I’m not sure anyone can. I hopped out of the truck to give Rob the middle seat. He never complained because he knew how much I liked to sit near the window. Craig put the truck in reverse and we started heading toward Sunoco, down in town, for breakfast.
Craig always bought. He probably still does today. That’s just the way he rolls. I could win the lotto and Craig would still grab the check. This always happened, except for one time when Craig, Laura and I were in Vermont. Craig informed me that I was paying for dinner while he was in the middle of ordering another main course. He and Laura were drunk. She was trying to cut her pork chop, when it flung on the floor (carpet). Craig leaned over and picked it up. He put it on his plate and proceeded to eat it. That is another story for another time.
As usual, Rob and I were standing at the counter ordering our bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. This guy at Sunoco always made the best sandwiches. This, of course, was before the time when the guy handed Rob and sandwich and informed him that the eggs were “a little gooey.” Rob didn’t like that very much and never ordered another sandwich from that gas station again. This morning was different. We ordered our sandwiches while Craig filled the tanks of the truck and chipper with fuel. What’s wrong with this picture…we order breakfast that Craig will pay for while he works…
Anyway, we hopped in the truck and started to eat. We slowly made a left turn out of the parking lot and headed down the road towards town. Craig always said he didn’t want a sandwich, but continuously asked Rob for a bite of his. This was during the era of “Mustache Craig” and one of the other reasons I liked to sit near the window. Rob would hand Craig his sandwich and I would watch Craig take a big, wet bite out of it and hand it back to Rob. I always watched Rob look at the sandwich…inspecting it to see if there were any mustache hairs in it. Poor Rob’s stomach is easily turned and I’m sure this would’ve been it for him.
I don’t remember the first job all that much. We probably did our thing and got in a fight. That was typical. Craig would scold us in the truck and express the importance of not yelling at any passing cars or people while there was a huge sign with his business name and phone number on the side of it. I guess he was right. We would go eat lunch at some deli and take a nap for a few minutes. The hardest thing was always trying to get up from laying on the ground under some apple tree on the deli’s property. I always dreaded what job was next.
I used to hate the days with two jobs. I wanted to go to one, get it done and leave. I wanted to go home, take a cool shower and then walk out in the road a few minutes later in my nice, clean jeans and no shirt. Craig would usually stumble out of his house a little while later and we would discuss current events. Rob? I am not sure we would see Rob again until the next morning.
We pulled straight in the driveway of the customer’s house, stopped and put the truck in reverse. We backed out to park on the side of the road.
I remember the job well. The house was big and beautiful…typical Northern Westchester. It was white with some stone work. The driveway was a straight incline, aimed directly at the house. There was a large oak tree in the front yard and across the street was a reservoir. Along the road was a row of tall pines. That was our job…to remove some of the pine trees. I am not sure why. Perhaps they were too tall? Blocking the view? Who knows… Yet, we were there to get the job done.
We worked for a few hours until the hard part of the job was completed. I really think we worked well during that portion of the day. There were no incidents. Craig would cut the brush from the tree while Rob and I would drag each branch to feed it to the chipper. It was grunt work…that was part of the problem with finding good employees.
When the big stuff was done, it was always time to clean up. This is what separates the men from the boys. Some companies come to your house, make a mess and leave it there. Real companies leave your place the way they found it, or better. We were a real company.
There were usually some tools we would use to clean up a property…rakes, a big barrel for sticks and a backpack blower. You know the kind of backpack blower I am talking about…it straps to your back and you hold the tube in your right hand and walk around like a tornado. They are pretty fun to operate.
Rob and I would usually race to get to the backpack blower. Whoever got to it first was the lucky one because they could just walk around blowing things off, while acting like some sort of a supervisor. The unlucky one would get stuck raking and filling that awful barrel with sticks and leaves. The heavy barrel had to be emptied in the back of the truck multiple times, which really sucked.
This particular day, I made it to the backpack blower first. Yes, I was the lucky one. Rob grudgingly grabbed the rake and barrel. We worked for about fifteen minutes. There wasn’t all too much to rake up, because the trees were right off the road. This put Rob in a good mood. I just walked around the whole time, happy as a woodpecker, blowing off the driveway and road. We were both eyeing one another, looking for a cue that our clean-up job was good enough.
One of the most annoying things about tree work is wood dust on your clothes and skin. The dust would get on you and make you very uncomfortable. It would make you itch and scratch. The wood dust, mixed with a good dose of body odor, wasn’t much fun. Rob and I, while working with Craig, had a long standing tradition of using the backpack blower to blow the dust off one another at the end of each job. Now, you have to remember that this backpack blower is very strong. If it is pointed at your face, it could make your skin ripple. This day was no different than any other, so I began to blow off Rob’s clothes and hair with the blower.
Rob must’ve gotten drunk the night before, because he did something very odd. Right at the point when I was pretty much done cleaning him off, he bent over and looked right at me. He opened his mouth and told me to point the blower at his face, so the air would fill up his mouth and make his cheeks really big. I guess he wanted to act like a dog, hanging his face out the car window, while driving at 120 MPH. I didn’t really understand why he wanted me to do this, but who was I to argue with Rob, who was just trying to have a little fun at the end of a hard day’s work? The real question was why Rob would trust me to do this. Did he really think I was going to simply point the blower at his face and then walk away without doing anything else? To this day, I wonder what gave Rob the impression that I wouldn’t mess with him. Poor Rob.
I had a little stirring in my stomach as I raised the end of the blower tube up to Rob’s face. I just couldn’t believe that it was actually Rob’s idea for me to do what I was about to do. In neighboring towns, you couldn’t pay someone to let you do what I was doing.
I lowered the throttle and began to lift the tube to Rob’s face. He looked so eager. He thought he was a genius. He had such passion in his soul. His cheeks have never been as big as they were about to be. His eyes were wide. He was just thrilled. I raised the tube and pointed it right at Rob’s mouth. His cheeks immediately filled with air and expanded like a hot air balloon. YEAH, he was doing it…ROB WAS DOING IT!!! He was flying high, higher than he has ever flown. I raised the throttle to full speed and the force of air got much stronger. It was like a rush of water being forced out of a fire hose. If you put your finger right next to the stream of air, you would feel nothing. If you moved your finger a quarter of an inch towards the air flow, your finger would flip backwards. The end of the tube was about a foot away from Rob’s mouth. I am sure there has never been more air in anyone’s mouth in this part of the state. Rob’s cheeks were huge and his hair was blowing around like he just jumped out of an airplane at 30,000 feet.
Then I spit. Right in the air flow.
Yes, you read correctly. Maybe it was Rob’s nice parents who raised him to look at all the good in the world…to trust others. Why Rob didn’t think I was going to do this is probably best left for the great thinkers of our time.
Thwap…right to the back of poor Rob’s throat. We had been drinking sports drink throughout the entire day, so there was some good ammo.
I think I started giggling even before I let the beast out of my mouth. My knees were shaking from all the joy I was about to experience.
At the moment of impact, Rob’s head snapped upward and his eyes bulged at least a half inch larger than normal. His whole world came crashing down around him. I can only imagine the thoughts shooting around in Rob’s head at that moment…”What just happened? Where’s Craig? Who am I?” The molecules in Rob’s head were bouncing around in overdrive. Our eyes met and Rob’s look of question turned to horror as the whole idea of what just happened began to gel. A look of betrayal quickly took the place of horror.
I couldn’t believe I hit the target. The chances of this adventure actually being executed this perfectly in someone’s lifetime are statistically nonexistent. My lips began to quiver as every muscle in my body lost its strength. My legs slightly gave out as I burst into the heartiest laughter I have ever experienced. Rob began to run.
He followed his instincts. Earlier in the day, he noticed a hose attached to a spicket on the side of the house. He ran towards it with me in tow. I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t turn the throttle on the blower down. There I was, chasing Rob up the driveway with the backpack blower on full blast. The tube of the blower was whipping around like a garden hose turned to full with no one holding the end of it. It was like one of the snakes on Medusa’s head having a spasm. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I almost didn’t make it.
I wanted to see what Rob was going to do with the water. How he kept from swallowing the whole run up the driveway, I don’t know. Rob grabbed the hose and turned it on. The angels were on Rob’s side that day because water started flowing out of the hose. Can you imagine if the hose didn’t work? Rob shoved the end of the hose into his mouth for a few minutes until there was nothing more he could do. I stood there laughing; now with the blower on idle. I turned it off and hovered over him, looking at a mere shell of what once was a strong and vibrant friend. His face was all wet and dripping with water. He was completely beaten down. Who knew that such a promising day could end like this? We walked back down to the truck.
The good thing about Rob is that he never stays mad for very long. We probably made up within minutes and things probably returned to normal. I am not sure if he is aware of the gift he gave me that day…the gift of experiencing the absolute, number one, funniest thing that ever happened in my short stay on this planet.
Now that the job was complete, we walked over to Craig and asked him if he needed us to work the next day. Craig replied, “I will never work the two of you together again in my life.”