After living in the house for 28 years, we were in need of a new roof. The original roofers managed to botch the first job in several ways, and were not on the list for a repeat performance. Looking in the yellow pages, I saw an ad for Careful Roofers, and knew that it was owned and operated by a longtime acquaintance. They calculated the cost of removing and hauling off two layers of shingles, and replacing them with a fine new set. They were hired to do the job.
At 6:30am on a beautiful summer morning the work crew arrived in their high-rise dump truck complete with ladders, long handled shingle removing tools, and a wrecking crew of two burley workers. They parked on the edge of the road, extracted the ladder, and placed it on the nearest corner of the house.
As the homeowner, I figured they would be able to get in a full day’s work before the heat of the afternoon arrived. I conferred with them about where to set up the truck for hauling off old shingles. Then I watched them crawl up the ladder and walk across the roof. Having little more to do, I turned around and headed for the house.
Suddenly, one of the men on the roof yelled out in perfectly clear English:
“Holy S#%*,” he exclaimed, in the vernacular not uncommon for construction workers,
With that, I stopped in my tracks, and turned around to see what was happening. The truck was parked on a slight downgrade, and was inching forward very slowly down the hill. On seeing this movement, the driver was terrified, as he was up on the roof. He ran across the roof to the ladder, scampered down three or four rungs, then turned and jumped the remaining six feet to the ground. He sprinted across the yard and into the road toward the truck. When he caught the truck, he grabbed the driver’s side door by the handle, and yanked it open, but by this time, the truck was moving quite swiftly, and was dragging him along as fast as he could run. He was unable to get into the cab of the truck, which was a high two steps off the ground. He may also have noticed the truck was headed just to the right of a power pole in the neighbor’s yard across the street, and he could be crushed between the door and the power pole had he tried to jump in. In desperation, he resigned himself to his fate, and watched the inevitable from the middle of the road.
The truck, weighing several tons, and standing possibly seven feet over the road, barely missed the telephone pole on its left side, and was headed directly toward the corner of Peter Liu’s house about 100 yards from its original parking spot. As we watched, the right front of the truck hit the corner support of Peter’s side-opening two-car carport-garage. The support wall was made of a decorative brick pattern, with two supporting piers on the corner and the middle of the front wall. The truck shattered the corner support, spraying bricks across the garage, and came to rest against the middle support structure, damaging it, as well. The corner of the house was resting on a few loose bricks on the cab of the huge truck.
In the house, Peter Liu’s brother, Michael, sister-in-law, and baby son were in the midst of their early morning routine. Michael did not see anything, but he felt and heard the awesome impact.
“Holy S#%*! What is this?” Michael shouted, as he came running out of his back door into the garage. On arriving, he saw quite clearly that a truck that was much too large for his garage had enlarged the entryway and was holding up his roof. He was stunned beyond belief, half clad, and angry that his house had been severely damaged by a truck parked halfway in his garage. The truck’s path is shown below directly over the pampas grass and into the corner support of Peter’s garage.
“Just where is the idiot that was driving this truck, and why is it sitting in my garage?” Michael asked.
The driver explained that it was supposed to be parked in front of my house, where they were just starting a new roof job. He mentioned that the emergency brakes had not been working well recently, and should have been repaired long ago.
After what seemed like an eternity, the owner of Careful Roofers parked in front of my house, expecting to see his crew busy at work on the roof. Scanning the area, he spotted his crew down the hill and across the street.
“Holy S#%*!” Bob exclaimed when he realized the truck holding up Peter Liu’s roof was his truck. During the next few moments he also met Michael Liu, who was still angry, and half-clad.
“We are terribly sorry about this mess,” Bob said. “We will certainly take care of this whole problem, remove the truck, and repair your place like it was new,” he added.
After the early verbal exchanges died down, Michael conferred with me privately about the incident.
“Do you know these guys you hired to do your roof?” he asked.
“Yes, I have known Bob for many years,” I added. “He is honest, and ethical, and I would certainly trust him.”
“He just told me he has a work crew that is fully capable of repairing my house, and doing a perfect job,” Michael continued. “But I have a serious problem with an outfit that doesn’t keep the brakes on their trucks fixed, particularly when they park it up the hill from my house. I am also worried about what is going to happen to my roof when they back that truck out of my garage. It looks like it is resting right on the cab, and I am not anxious for this outfit to do anything more for me this morning. I think they have already done quite enough,” he finished. Michael was still angry, miffed at the outfit I had hired, and half-clad.
In that moment, I reflected upon Michael Liu’s serious concerns. I realized that the guys now back on my roof were the same ones that had just demolished the corner of my neighbor’s house. They achieved this in their first five minutes on the job. Now they were swinging weapons of mass destruction at my roof and had three full days yet to go.
“Holy S#%*,” I said to myself, repeating the phrase that characterized the opening scene of this beautiful summer morning.