Homecoming and Dodgy Behavior

In the last 15 months, I have lived in five different places: a Red Cross shelter, a budget motel, a hotel suite, a rented house, and a one-bedroom apartment. A couple of weeks ago, we moved back into our home again.

It’s not exactly the same as our old house, though it is on the same lot and same foundation. In the aftermath of the tornado, we were able to make a few modifications to the plans. We enlarged the master bedroom to accommodate a reading nook with two comfy chairs and a standing lamp. We enlarged the downstairs bathroom and put in a shower. This made my study a little smaller, but the convenience has proved to be worth it.

My study (or “the smallest bedroom,” as our contractor called it) is a definite improvement over where I did my writing at the last place we lived, the one-bedroom apartment. There I had to do my work and write my blogs in the apartment’s supposed laundry area, with my computer propped up on four totes and two boards. The cat box was located there too, which inspired me to write quickly.

Much of our furniture was ruined in the aftermath of the tornado, so we had a veritable shopping spree replacing it. What we acquired was an eclectic mix of new high-quality items (the insurance paid for these), secondhand or antique furniture such as a huge hutch and a grandfather clock (one of Dan’s lifelong dreams), plus assorted cheap-o stuff that we ordered off the internet. (My study’s comfy chair turned out to be a pleasant surprise, being as comfy as advertised and fitting in beautifully with my warm spice-colored walls.)

It was during one of these furniture deliveries that my husband learned something he had never known about me. When our furniture and appliances were delivered, I tipped the delivery guys for their sometimes-considerable efforts. Dan’s curio cabinet was a different matter.

The delivery instructions only covered placing the huge (already assembled) item inside the front door. It needed to be upstairs, in my husband’s study (“the small upstairs bedroom”). As we gathered inside the front door and looked at the giant package, I piped up, “I’ll give you $20 if you take it upstairs.”

“Where upstairs?” Delivery Dude asked.

“The room right at the top of the stairs.”

The two guys looked at each other.  “Okay, ” they said. (Little did they know that I would probably have given them $20 or thereabouts simply for having toted it down our long, sloping, unpaved driveway.)

Dan looked at me in astonishment. Apparently he had never imagined that I knew how to bribe someone.

My career in bribery is not extensive, but I have had my moments. Once – before 9/11, of course – I bribed a curbside redcap to put my bag on a plane other than the one I was ticketed for. (My boss had made me change my departure time to arrive at the business convention earlier than planned.)

A coworker had described the official procedure, which was to dangle a $10 bill from the hand that clutched the handle of the luggage. I added my own twist to this by clutching the money with one hand while I dug in my purse for the elusive ticket that “I was sure my boss gave me.” A little helpless female pantomime (which I loathed myself for), and the bag and I both traveled on the earlier plane. (I exchanged my ticket once I got inside the terminal.)

It turns out, of course, that my husband was grateful for my underhanded skills, since it got him his curio up the stairs without his having to strain his back. But I don’t think he’ll ever look at me the same way again. After over 35 years of marriage, it’s good to know that I can still surprise him.

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