Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Waiting for Godot

"Where is he?" the plumber hollered at the fence.
"Not here," I said letting Michael into the backyard.
"I bet he won't come."
"We'll find out soon enough."
"Nothing to be done."
"Except… wait."

Ahhh, Waiting. It's an exercise in patience whether you're waiting for a pot to boil, a pay raise to happen or Santa Claus to bring you Barbie's Malibu Beach House, the Exclusive Pinktastic version.  But all that pales in comparison to waiting for the City Inspector to approve the work on your house.

It took several months of back-breaking work but after digging a trench, hiring plumbers and electricians to do the work, the day had now arrived when we'd learn if everything had been done correctly. I thought Michael's plumbing work was professional and Jeffrey's electrical work was stellar, but my opinions didn't matter if the City Inspector didn't think so. In home improvement the City Inspector is the judge, jury and king. And it's very good to be king.

Hoping to impress the Inspector, our plumber arrived first thing in the morning wearing a clean t-shirt and jeans to answer any questions the City Inspector might have about Michael's work. Only the plumber--not the electrician--was required to be present for the inspection. When I asked why this was Michael said there was a pecking order in home improvement inspections: The Inspector is the Emperor, the Electrician is the Empress and the Plumber is the Court Jester.

"That means you're funny," I said before Michael gave me a dirty look and retreated to his car to make phone calls, proving that Court Jesters don't necessarily have a sense of humor. After waiting three hours in his air-conditioned but still hot car, Michael marched up to The House.

"He's not coming."
"He'll be here."
"I'm tired of waiting. I'm leaving."
"No!" I said thinking fast. "Can I get you something?"
"You have a phone charger?" Michael had made so many calls that his phone was dead. I handed him a battery charger and he stomped off to his car. Two hours later he reappeared.

"He's not coming."
"He'll be here."
"I'm leaving."
"No! Uh, how about a drink?" I said filling a glass with ice water and handing it to him.
"I'm not thirsty" Michael sniffed. He'd been sitting in his car for five hours and it was 102 degrees Fahrenheit in my kitchen freezer, of course he was thirsty. And hard-headed and the antithesis of Court Jester funny.
"Drink it," I pushed the glass at him. Michael accepted the beverage and gulped its contents in 2.6 seconds. I refilled his glass then watched as he proceeded to drink enough water to fill Hoover Dam. Twice. But still, the Inspector did not come.

"Where is he?" Michael stamped his foot then retreated to his car to listen to music.

An hour later Michael pounded on the door.
"He's not coming."
"He'll be here."
"I'm leaving now."
"No! Uh, how about lunch?"
"I'm not hungry," Michael growled. He'd been at our house for six hours waiting for the City Inspector, of course he was hungry. And stubborn and the dictionary definition of "not funny".
"I'll make smoothies," I said pouring fresh strawberries, yoghurt and juice into the blender. I whirred its contents at the exact moment Michael was shaking his head and protesting. I popped a straw into the glass and handed it to him. "Drink it."
He sipped some then stopped.
"This is good."
"I used Greek yoghurt."
"You went to Greece to buy this?" Michael asked with a slight upward tilt to his mouth.
"Specifically, Athens. There's a joint next to the Parthenon that sells yoghurt two for one."
"Ha-ha!" Michael said sporting a full smile. Maybe the Court Jester did have a funny bone after all?

In the shady backyard we sat at the table and cracked jokes. We devoured our smoothies and the refills. Michael said my avocado tree looked lame because good avocados can't be grown in Los Angeles. I protested. He said Mexico had the world's best avocados. For the honor of our countries' produce, I challenged him to an arm wrestling match. We were laughing, our forearms locked in battle, when a voice over us sounded:

"I don't want to interrupt you and your friend but I'm the Inspector." The 50-something man said peering down at us.
"We've been waiting for you all day!" Michael and I said in unison.

The City Inspector came! He approved all the work! The Court Jester was free to go!

"And I was having so much fun," Michael said kicking the dirt with his shoe. "So, I guess this is... good-bye." He lingered at the gate, reluctant to go. I thought about future jobs in The House.
"Do you do bathroom repairs?"
"All the time."
"I'll call you."
"You better," Michael said leaving with a smile.

Sometimes the waiting is the worst part, and sometimes, it's the part that makes everything worthwhile.